Paneer do Pyaza
Paneer do Pyaza is a Mughlai dish in which soft paneer tikka cubes and onions are coated with semi-dry gravy. This dish tastes so delicious that you want to make it again and again!
The name itself lends to meaning onions two ways. The word ‘Do’ means ‘two’ and the word ‘pyaza or piaza’ is a Persian word which means ‘onions’. The word ‘do pyaza’ hence means onions twice.
During my research I came across the origins of this dish. Originally the dish was created by Mughal emperor Akbar Mullah Do Piaza by accidentally adding a large amount of onions to a dish. Hence the dish is named after him.
In this curry, onions are added at two stages. First, in the gravy lots of sliced onions are caramelized and cooked with tomatoes to make the thick gravy. Second, large cubed onions are added towards the end to keep them soft yet crunchy.
I feel this dish is extra special as paneer is cooked separately too giving it a BBQ taste. Paneer is marinated in yogurt/curd and grilled/cooked before adding it to the gravy. This dish should not be confused with paneer tikka masala as the gravy for both are different and taste different too.
I remembered eating this dish years ago on one of our trips to Delhi. I researched a lot to make this dish perfect for our taste and with lots of changes, I found the right balance. I feel Indian cooking can be so adaptable at times as you can easily add/change/substitute ingredients/methods of cooking according to your home/taste. I think this dish is an epitome of that as while writing this dish I kept thinking “or you can do this!” “or you can add that!” without compromising on the taste. Enjoy cooking this dish as it has become a favourite in our family!
Line a strainer with a muslin cloth or a double layered kitchen towel. Place the strainer on a bowl and pour the yogurt into it. Keep this in the fridge or a cool place for 1-2 hours and let all the water drain out. (You will be left with thick, hung curd or yogurt in the cloth. 1 cup of yogurt will give ½ cup of thick yogurt).
Take thick or hung curd in a bowl. Add all the spices given under marination and mix it well.
Add cubed pieces of paneer and mix them gently till all the paneer cubes are coated well. Cover it with plate or plastic wrap and let paneer marinade in the fridge for atleast 1 hour for this dish.
Heat ½ teaspoon oil in a nonstick pan/tawa or a well-seasoned griddle. Gently place pieces of marinated paneer in the pan. Fry at a low to medium flame.
Half way through turn the paneer to ensure even cooking. Keep these paneer tikka pieces aside.
Make a fine paste/puree of chopped tomatoes and cashew nuts.
Heat ghee/oil in a pan and add the whole spices (green cardamom, bay leaf, red chilies, black pepper and cinnamon).
Add chopped onions in it. When the onions are slightly golden in colour, add garlic, green chilies and ginger in it. Sauté them till they are golden brown in colour.
Add the prepared tomato and cashew nut puree/paste in it. Mix well and after a minute add Kashmiri red chilli powder, coriander powder and salt. Mix well.
Add milk and cover it with a lid and cook this on a medium flame.
After 7-8 minutes, add garam masala and kasuri methi in it cover it and cook it for around 5 minutes.
Add cream and cook it for 2-3 minutes.When the gravy leaves the oil, add paneer tikka pieces, diced pieces of onions and pepper/capsicum in it.
Paneer Do Pyaza is ready.
You can serve it with any bread like Butter Naan, plain roti, Lachha Paratha and/or with rice.