Dine as much as you want in all the premium fine-dine destinations of your city, but the urge to pull over at your favourite dhaba, for a bite of that greasy naan and creamy dal makhani is something only true, desi foodies would understand. Dhabas, for the uninitiated, are small, modest eating joints that you find on highways, and even inside the cities since it does not take a big investment to build a dhaba. Sometimes just three pateelas, a makeshift stove, and a tarpaulin sheet are enough. And if you have something delicious to offer, you will find your loyal base of customers too.  

One of the things that we enjoy the most about the Dhabas of North India, especially the ones in Delhi, Haryana and Punjab is the bevy of Paneer dishes. Chopped, sliced or scrambled paneer can be cooked in at least 26 types of gravies, each tasting better than the other. You know if you have ordered a paneer dish in a Dhaba, there is no cutting corners when it comes to spices or butter and you are up for it, aren’t you? Pairing these hot gravies with fresh naans and rotis screams indulgence. And yet, when you try recreating the same magic at home, you fail miserably, don’t you? What are the secret masalas they are using, or the cooking technique that makes it so special?  

Unsplash | Dhabas are an inevitable part of Indian food landscape

We fetched a recipe for you, that may help you imitate the similar taste and feel. And now that you are cooking at home, you can also be doubly sure of the quality of ingredients used. This recipe for paneer lababdar is just ideal for your lunch, or a picnic or potluck. You can even serve it at your house party. This is so delicious, that it will find its takers everywhere.  

The word ‘lababdar’ means ultimate indulgence, and we cannot think of a name more befitting for this recipe. Paneer lababdar is a popular North Indian curry, in which cubes of paneer are tossed in a creamy, tomato-based curry, it may or may not be thickened with cashew paste. Oodles of butter, and a hint of cardamom makes this curry flavourful and balanced at the same time. You can pair it with roti, naan, or rice, the choice is yours.  

Here are some tips you should keep in mind while making this curry.

While preparing the paste, take some water and on medium flame add cashews, green cardamom, cloves, ginger, garlic and tomatoes. Bring it to a boil and then let it cool. Now grind this mixture, it will be much more flavourful we bet.

For the gravy, do not use oil, use some butter and heat it. And on medium flame, add bay leaves and mix. Then add some onions, once they are golden brown, add the paste, Kashmiri red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and mix well. Then towards the end toss in the paneer, along with shredded paneer and cook the gravy well, with the lid on.

Here’s the complete recipe for Dhaba-style paneer lababdar. Try it at home and let us know how you liked it.