Paneer Kolhapuri is a spicy blend of two distinct Indian cultures. It represents both the Punjabi & Maharashtrian flavours together. The Punjabi style of cooking & the base of Kolhapuri Masala makes this dish unique.
Here the Kolhapuri Masala is our star ingredient. Instead of using a readymade one, I made it myself. Hence, I will be using homemade kolhapuri masala. Follow the link to read what it is & how it is made.
Before we get into the details of paneer kolhapuri, let’s explore the roots of the famous kolhapuri masala.
The Royal Touch & The Signature Kolhapuri Masala
The kolhapuri masala is spicy & rich in traditional flavours. It is well seasoned with whole spices to bring out the authentic taste. However, the term spicy is subjective because the locals of Kolhapur believe it to be otherwise. According to the localities, the kolhapuri masala is all about its colour. The teekhapan for what it is famous for comes afterwards.
This झणझणीत masala hails from the city of Kolhapur, the land of Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj. Apart from authentic cuisine, the city also offers a royal heritage.
Okay, now back to the paneer kolhapuri recipe. Since we are making it in Punjabi style, we need to counter a few things. Let’s see what they are.
Paneer Cream in Paneer Kolhapuri
A small tweak can deliver unexpected results & we will be doing the same here. For example, Paneer cream might sound like a fancy ingredient, but it isn’t. When you blend paneer, sugar & water, you will get a smooth & thick paste. That’s our paneer cream.
The creamy version is far better instead of grating paneer directly into the gravy. Moreover, it will reduce the fiery hot taste, if any.
There’s a fun fact about the paneer kolhapuri dish. You will be surprised to know that it is not served in Kolhapur. On the contrary, it is a staple item on the menu of North Indian restaurants. In short, paneer kolhapuri is the discovery of North India. It didn’t originate in Kolhapur. Even I didn’t know this.
2 Tips to Prepare Flavourful Gravy
The secret to making masaledar gravy lies in the process instead of ingredients. I bet you will agree with it. If you look closely, everything single item used to make the gravy is ordinary. I mean, you have been using it daily in other recipes. My point is there’s nothing out of the box we will be using. Okay, now, let’s discuss the secrets.
1. Saute Onions Separately First
First thing first, saute the onions well. The first secret to making a perfect base for the gravy. Next, the raw taste & aroma of onions shall go away. For this, keep the flame low & stir continuously.
Now when your onions are soft & mushy, add other following items. Doing this will thoroughly cook onions and integrate their sweet & mellow flavours into the gravy.
2. Saute Tomatoes with Masala
Now the second secret is to saute chopped tomatoes with masala powders. Do the same, just like we did with onions. Similar to onions, the raw taste of tomatoes needs to go away. But how will you know when to stop cooking tomatoes further? The trick is straightforward. When they melt and mix up with other ingredients, they create a thick paste-like structure.
Onion, tomato & ground masala powders make a thick base. The kolhapuri masala will add taste, colour & aroma to the gravy. Following the process & you will make precisely the same you see in the image gallery above.
Extra Shots for Paneer Kolhapuri
Simmer the gravy alone for 5-7 minutes on low flame. It will give time for individual flavours to mix & match. Stir occasionally so that it doesn’t stick at the bottom of the pan or kadhai.
There are three instances where we will be using tomatoes. First, to make the gravy. Second, after adding paneer & third, when the recipe is complete. The second & the third time when we are adding tomatoes is to mimic the restaurant-style. So go ahead & try it. You will love the taste.
Add water only if the gravy is too thick. Adjust the gravy consistency accordingly because water will make or break the recipe. You might have heard about evaporating the excess moisture in the gravy. Although this is true, still monitor the quantity of water. If not, you will end up adding, burning & evaporating water.
Avoid Nuts & Seeds
There’s no need to use almonds, cashews, muskmelon, and poppy seeds in gravy. However, you can use them if you are making this recipe differently. Refer to my Badami paneer or cashew-based paneer butter masala recipes to see how nuts & seeds are used.
Okay, now here is something that I wanted to share with you. Read below.
Paneer Kolhapuri Gravy 2 Ways
You are currently reading the first method. In this method, we haven’t made the kolhapuri masala. Instead, we have prepared the masala separately & then used the same in the gravy.
Moreover, we haven’t crushed or grounded the whole spice, tomatoes or onions like other Punjabi recipes. Here we have finely chopped onions tomatoes & further cooked until they melt to form a thick paste.
Doing this will allow individual flavours to mix & match with other items. Moreover, the ground spice & masala powders release their aroma & taste, making the gravy more delightful.
Now that was one way of cooking the gravy. So here’s the second one.
Saute whole spices, onion & tomato in cooking oil—no need to finely chop tomatoes & onions because we will crush everything in the end. Therefore, saute them nicely until you smell their distinct fragrance. I followed this method in Paneer Angara & Restaurant Style Paneer Butter Masala.
The second method, the one we are currently discussing, requires two steps to cook the gravy. First, saute the dry spices and onions, tomatoes & green chilli. Then crush the mixture into a thick paste. The paste must be thick. However, you can always add water to adjust the thickness.
We cook the paste until the oil separates. Doing this will eliminate the raw taste & aroma of the items present in the paste. As a result, you get nice, smooth & aromatic gravy.
So those were two unique methods of preparing paneer kolhapuri gravy. You can opt-in for any one of them.
Paneer Kolhapuri FAQs
Do I need to add tomato & onions twice?
The reason behind adding tomato & onion the second time is to add the raw flavour in the gravy. It is a typical restaurant style. If you are not a fan of adding them twice, skip the second time. However, it will deliver excellent flavours of tomatoes and onions in the gravy.
Why use paneer cream? Can I skip it?
How do I replace paneer cream?
There are a lot of flavourful substitutes that you can use instead of paneer cream. For instance, dry fruits like cashews & almonds. Dairy products like curd, yoghurt, milk or heavy cream. You can also use muskmelon seeds or poppy seeds.
Is paneer kolhapuri extremely spicy?
It is spicy but not extremely spicy. I mean, you can gorge upon this lip-smacking dish. However, since we are using the traditional kolhapuri masala, your dish will be a little hot in taste. If you don’t prefer a spicy & hot taste, reduce the kolhapuri masala or increase the quantity of paneer cream.
How to improve the extra teekhapan in the gravy?
If your gravy is too much spicy by chance, then add heavy cream, curd, or yoghurt. Either of them will decrease the hotness in the gravy & make it children friendly. Add them gradually, or else you will end up making the gravy tasteless.
So that was it with the paneer kolhapuri recipe. I guess you all liked it. Let me know your thoughts in the comment box. See you in the following recipe.