Paneer, Cashew, and Apricot Masala

I’ll admit that I probably could have done a little more to make this red blob of a dish look more appealing, but I was so eager to eat it that I didn’t spend much time on making it look pretty.  Yes, this dish probably won’t win any beauty contests, but it sure is tasty!

A few weeks ago I posted a recipe for mixed vegetable curry and talked about my love of curry and Indian food.  I decided I should expand this interest to cuisine from other Southern Asian countries, and so in order to keep going on my curry kick, last week I tried a recipe from the Pakistan section of one of my cookbooks.

Making this dish required a trip to an international market, which was a fun adventure in and of itself.  The particular market that I went to had sections devoted to foods and spices from all over the world, including a South Asia section!  In that section, I picked up several large bags of spices, like garam masala, fenugreek, green cardamom pods, ajowan seeds, and spicy chili powder.   All of these spices and a few more went into today’s sweet, savory, spicy, and oh-so-delicious masala!

Paneer, Cashew, and Apricot Masala

Adapted from The World Food Café 2

Some of the spices in this dish can be found at a normal supermarket, but others will probably require a trip to an international or Asian market.  If you don’t have a market near you, you can probably order the spices online.   I had to leave out the fenugreek (because I couldn’t figure out how to grind the hard fenugreek seeds), but I wouldn’t recommend leaving out any of the other spices, especially the ajowan seeds—they have a great thyme-like flavor.  To make this dish, first make the tomato gravy and then add it to the paneer and spice mixture.


  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes (28 ounces)
  • 2 tespoons peeled and minced ginger root
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 8 green cardamom pods
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon ground fenugreek
  • salt

Paneer and Spice Mixture

  • 2 tablespoons butter (or ghee)
  • 2 teaspoons ajowan seeds
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1- inch piece of peeled ginger root, minced
  • 2-3 cups of paneer, cut into ½-inch cubes*
  • ¾ cup cashews
  • 1 cup dried apricots, cut in thirds (I used unsulphured)
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • chopped cilantro

*Paneer is a fresh cheese that can be found at Asian and international markets.  It is also very easy to make your own, which is what I did.  Here’s the recipe that I used.

For the gravy, put the tomatoes, ginger, garlic, chili powder, ground cloves, cardamom pods, and water into a large pot.  Bring the mixture to a boil and once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer until mixture has thickened a bit (it should be similar in consistency to a tomato-based pasta sauce).  Stir in the butter, cream, honey, fenugreek, and cook for a few more minutes.  Add salt to taste and remove cardamom pods.

While the gravy is cooking, heat up the butter or ghee in a large skillet or wok.  Add the ajowan seeds and then add the onion and ginger after the seeds begin to crackle.  Cook until onions are translucent.  Add the paneer, cashews, and apricots, and cook until the paneer starts to turn brown.  Stir in the chili powder, coriander, garam masala, and the gravy.  Cook for a few more minutes, and then serve over brown rice and top with chopped cilantro leaves. 

Tasty Easy Healthy Green Recipe Ratings:

Recipe Report Card Notes About Recipe Ratings

Tasty Rating


Four Chefs (Delicious!)

I didn’t think I could make a dish with these kinds of flavors at home. Now there is less temptation to go out for Southern Asian food when I can cook it up right in our own kitchen!

Easy Rating


Two Easy Chairs (A Long March…)

Making the dish was not that difficult, but because it requires ingredients that can’t be found at a normal supermarket, we are rating the dish a little lower on the easy scale.

Healthy Rating


Three Apples (Average Nutritional Quality)

While its tomatoes and dried apricots are relatively health, overall the butter, cream, and cheese add saturated fat that does not make this dish particularly healthy.

Green Rating


Three Leaves (Average Environmental Friendliness)

Many of the ingredients were organic, but not local, and the spices are not from around here.
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