Mama’s Punjabi Recipes: Paneer Te Katti Sabziyan (Cheese & Mixed Vegetables)

Recipe 1in

All over India, and certainly in New Delhi, paneer (fresh milk soft cheese) is used in so many dishes served at restaurants that sometimes it’s frustrating making a decision on what other vegetarian item to order other than daal (lentils) or chole (chickpeas)! This just shows how much demand there is for the milk product: it is even available on some pizzas as a topping!

The nationwide consumption of paneer has only grown rapidly over the past dozen years and before then it was considered a specialty item used in select dishes like palak paneer (spinach and cheese). But with commercial farming has come the abundance of milk, leading to wholesale production of paneer, which has a higher profit margin. In the West Delhi district of Tilak Nagar, there are rows of shops that have machines to churn out the fat from milk and then make huge bricks of paneer which are kept in large vats, ready for sale.

One of the consequences of this overuse of paneer is that people are getting fatter and heavier, especially since many paneer dishes are also cooked with cream. And then there are appetizers like paneer pakoras, paneer samosas, paneer paranthas to tempt you!

Most recipes for paneer have some turri (curry sauce) in them and are time consuming to make. But there are a few paneer dishes, like this one, which you can make quickly and without much preparation yet have lots of flavor. This recipe also allows you to use leftovers in your refrigerator, like the small bits of vegetables and the milk that is about to go bad to make paneer (though If you prefer, you can use store-bought paneer). It’s a quick and simple dish that most enjoy!

Ingredients for making paneer:

1 liter doodh (whole milk)
½ cup sirka (white vinegar)

Ingredients for dish:

1 tbsp tael (olive oil or vegetable oil)
100 gm paneer (fresh milk soft cheese)
Left over vegetables: piyaaz (onions); tamater (tomato); mutter (peas); gobi (cauliflower); Shimla mirch (bell peppers)
Spices: 2 tsp dhania (coriander powder), ½ tsp garam masala, 1 tsp lal mirch (red pepper) and salt to taste.

1. Pour the milk into a pot and let it come to boil over medium heat. When it begins to boil, add the vinegar and the milk will begin to separate into whey.

2. Pour the liquid through a strainer lined with a soft cloth to capture the whey. Tighten the cloth into a ball and tie it off in a knot and let the water drip from the ball for an hour.

3. Peel and chop the vegetables and keep aside.

4. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat then pour the vegetables in. Stir to coat and cook for 10 minutes till they are slightly brown and tender. Add the lal mirch and salt and stir.

5. Now add the paneer to the onions, crumbling it in your hands as you drop it in. Mix it lightly but thoroughly. Cover the skillet to let the flavor of the paneer mix in and cook for 5 minutes.

6. Add the garam masala and dhania and stir in. Cover the skillet and turn the heat off and let it sit for 5 minutes. This dish tastes best with warm paranthas or roti.



Making raita or the yogurt-based side dish that is customary to find in an Indian meal, especially one that serves rice, is an art by itself. All too many restaurants cut the yogurt with too much water and milk that it comes out thin and watery, almost like a sauce. In fact, many places that serve kababs give you a cup of this “sauce” to add when eating the meat!

Many Indian meals of rice, palau or paranthas can be eaten simply with some yogurt or raita, so it is important to have a firm texture. Just as important is that the raita, if made earlier, has not gone a bit bitter or sour. If it has, you can make it sweeter again by adding some fresh whole milk, but be careful about proportions so as not to thin it out too much.

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Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur, India before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her mid-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share some of her delectable Punjabi recipes.