Today’s recipe is a Himachali dish – Chana Paneer Madra. Its a quintessential Himachali dham item which is cooked with whole spices which makes it very flavorful and aromatic. The dish is also very rich (thanks the amount of Pure Ghee which goes into it). Madra is generally made with Rajma (kidney beans) or Chana (Chickpea) or Black eyed peas but then there are other variations with Paneer (Indian cottage cheese) or Potatoes or Mushrooms. There are places in Himachal (like Chamba and Kangra) where the quality of the dhaam is judged by the number of Madra dishes in it :). You would have to attend a Dhaam to know what I am talking about. I am working on other Dhaam recipes like Mahni and Kali daal and will post them soon.
The original Himachali recipe calls for equal amounts of pure ghee and yogurt but I cook it with much less. You can further reduce the amount of ghee but going too low takes away the taste and also makes it difficult to eat with rice. So instead of making this too often with less Ghee I make this dish once in two months or so with the right amount and indulge :).
Helpful tips –
- If you don’t like biting into whole spices I recommend taking them out once the dish is done.
- While adding the whole spices keep the flame on low.
- Keep stirring (a lot!) so that the yogurt doesn’t burn. It may curdle but that’s Ok.
Would love to know how this recipe turned out for you. Give it a try!
- Chickpea ( kabuli chana) - 11/2 cup (soaked and boiled)
- Paneer (indian cottage cheese) - 260 gm (cubed)
- Yogurt (full fat) - 3 cups
- Desi ghee (clarified butter) - ½ cup
- Bay leaves - 2
- Cinnamon sticks - 2
- Green cardamom - 4
- Cloves - 4-5
- Black peppercorn - 4-5
- Star anise - 2-3
- Whole red chillies - 2-3 (broken)
- Coriander seeds - 1 tsp (crushed)
- Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
- Turmeric - 2 tsp
- Coriander powder - 2 tsp
- Cumin powder - 2 tsp
- Red chilli powder - 2 tsp (or to taste)
- Sugar - 1 tbsp
- Salt - to taste
- In a large pot, add ghee and on very low flame add the whole spices, the bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, green cardamom, cloves, black peppercorn, star anise and whole red chillies. Give it a stir.
- Keeping the flame on low, add the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and turmeric.
- Saute for half a minute, be careful and don't let the spices burn.
- Then add the yogurt and stir quickly, be careful as the yogurt can splash.
- Saute the yogurt in the ghee for at least 15 to 20 minutes. We want most of the water from the yogurt to be evaporated.
- Then add the boiled chickpea and stir. Cook for another 10 minutes. Crush some of the chickpeas using back of the ladle to make the gravy thick.
- Lastly add the cubed paneer and stir, just let it simmer for just 2 more minutes. You do not want to overcook the paneer.
- Serve hot with plain white rice. Madra tastes great with some black lentils on the side too. Enjoy!