08.21.11_Paneer Tikka Masala and Naan

Last weekend I had hoped on making Indian food but had forgotten a key ingredient, garam masala, at my Mom's house. We decided to make the vegetable curry instead since we had had our hopes up for Indian and it was much easier. Now that I had the garam masala, I wanted to try to make Tikka Masala. This is my favorite Indian dish that I almost always get when I eat Indian, but I decided to subsitute paneer, the Indian cheese, for the chicken. I also wanted to try and make my own naan. I had looked around on different websites and ended up finding a recipe on allrecipes.com that had good reviews and seemed simple enough.

I decided to cut the recipe in half because the original recipe made 14 servings. This was somewhat difficult because I had to use half of a beaten egg and half of a package of yeast but luckily my eye-balling did not mess up the recipe! I found that the comments on the recipe were extremely helpful. The recipe did not talk about "proofing" the yeast but multiple reviews said to add sugar to the yeast and warm water mixture. The yeast package also said to do this. After proofing the yeast, I just had to add in the rest of the ingredients (sugar, milk, egg, salt, and flour), knead the dough and then let it rise for an hour in an oiled bowl. I put the bowl into my oven since it was a warmer space. 
The dough after rising for one hour.
The dough divided into seven pieces.
Grilling the naan.
The finished product!
After the hour passed, I divided the dough into seven equal balls, put on a baking sheet, and let rise for another 30 minutes in the oven. Once that was done, all you had to do was flatten out the dough balls and throw on the grill. Another reviewer had mentioned that rather than kneading the garlic into the dough like the recipe called for, they added the garlic to the melted butter. I thought this sounded a lot easier and would also distribute the garlic more evenly so I went for that approach.  Once the naan was on the grill you just had to brush each side with the melted butter and garlic mixture, and grill on each side for a couple of minutes. I decide to make this earlier in the day so I would not be overwhelmed trying to grill naan while making Tikka Masal for the first time. I just tented the naan and kept it in my oven until we were ready to eat and they were still just as delicious! The recipe did not make a very flaky or bubbly naan but it still tasted good and apparently if you want the bubbles all you have to do is add a little baking soda to the mix!

After the naan was done it was time to move onto the Paneer Tikka Masala. I decided to use Aarti Sequeira's (the winner of Next Food Network Star a few seasons ago) recipe since she was my favorite that season and I had not made any of her recipes before. The only thing I changed was substituting the paneer for the chicken. Finding the paneer was definitely the hardest part of this recipe. I originally thought about making my own (Aarti had a recipe online) but I decided I was already making enough and did not want to end up having no cheese for the dish. We went to Wegman's since we were in Fredericksburg and I was sure they would have it since they have everything you could ever imagine. Sadly, they did not have paneer, or at least we couldn't find it. The guy at the cheese counter had never even heard of it. We did find multiple frozen and prepared dishes with paneer in it, but not just plain paneer. I then called this local market in DC that I thought might have it and they said they didn't either. Lucky for us Whole Foods did. It was a little pricey but it was definitely worth it.

Anyway, after marinating the paneer while I made the sauce, I sauteed it slightly while the tomatoes for the sauce were simmering. We poured the sauce into the blender, gave it a quick spin, then added the sauteed paneer to the sauce and let it cook for another 10 minutes. We served the Paneer Tikka Masala over basmati rice with the homemade naan I made earlier in the day. I was so excited that the sauce looked and smelled right that I forgot to put the cream in at the last minute. We did not even notice until I opened the fridge to put the leftovers in and saw the cream staring me in the face. The dish was still delicious without it so maybe leaving it out is an easy way to cut a few calories out of this dish! Overall a yummy and impressive Indian meal!

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