There is a lot to be said about growing up in Punjab. For starters, its the rustic charm of the place and its warm, friendly people. Then there's poetry and music. Not just bhangra, but also heer and mirza and sufis of Bulleh Shah's stature.
And then, the food. The stories of mounds of butter on sarson ka saag (mustard greens) are all true. So are the legends of huge lassi tumblers. But then, Punjabis have always been farmers toiling away on their land all day and needing nutrition to match. Not surprisingly, Punjabi food is heavy on fats and dairy. My mother would still cook all her curries in ghee. Olive oil? What's that!
Ever been invited to a vegetarian Punjabi home for dinner. You don't need to tell me the menu, for I can guaratee it was either chhole or rajmah. And a paneer curry - there's always paneer on the menu when guests come over. I don't have guests coming over today, but I am in a mood to indulge so there's paneer on my menu too. This is the paneer curry my mother would make - it's so much like your paneer makhani or paneer butter masala and yet it's not.
Punjabi Home Style Paneer
Cube 200 gms paneer. Grate 2 onions, or chop them finely. Also puree 2 tomatoes (or do what I did : grate them, but leave the peels out). Heat a tbsp of ghee in a pan, add a tsp of cumin seeds and let them splutter. Add onions and fry until lightly browned. Now add 1/2 tsp turmeric and stir for a few seconds. I know you would usually add turmeric at the much later stage, but adding it now will take away the raw turmeric flavor you don't want in your curry.
Stir in tomatoes and stir fry until the onion-tomato mix is well cooked and oozing ghee. Now add salt and red chilli powder. Add a cup of water to the pan, bring in to a boil and let the gravy simmer for a few minutes. Now add paneer and cook for 5 minutes or so to let the flavors mingle. Your curry should be fairly thick by now. Just before serving add 1/2 tsp garam masala.
This goes on as an entry to Srivalli's Curry Mela. And now that I notice that this also fits another couple of events, here goes to:
Vandana for Paneer - a delicacy, and
Sangeeth for Eat Healthy - Protein Rich