Aloo Paneer er Dalna (আলু পনীরের ডালনা ) or Bengali style Paneer Curry with Potato is an extremely easy, hassle-free Indian vegetarian curry. There are many popular Paneer dishes in North Indian cuisine, but Paneer is a contemporary inclusion in Bengali cuisine. In modern Bengali cooking, Paneer became a popular vegetarian protein option because of its easy access. Chunky paneer and Potato fried in oil and then simmered in moderately spiced curry sauce, so they suck up the flavour (not at all loaded with cream and fat) and create a big pot of delicious curry for your weeknight dinners or lunch. You won’t need to hunt any unusual spices that you don’t have in your pantry, or you won’t find in your supermarket.
What is Dalna?
Dalna is moderately spiced, no onion no garlic yet flavourful curry that you won’t get in your local restaurant. The origin of this curry is from Bengal. Different vegetables paired with Potato make different Dalna. Dalna is mainly a vegetarian curry, but Dimer Dalna is another popular curry in Bengali cuisine. Dim means Egg and in Bengali cooking, Egg considers as a non-vegetarian ingredient.
This Aloo Paneer er Dalna is a quicker version of Bengali Chhanar Dalna. Chhana is cottage cheese or acid-curd. Sweet made from Chhana is exclusive to Bengal. Sweets of Bengal and Chhana is another topic to discuss in another blog post!
As a kid, I have fond memories of walking into my Dida’s kitchen (maternal grandmother)and curry simmering in the stove. Even my mother often makes this curry for her weekly vegetarian menu. My grandmother, my mother, tried to avoid fuss in the kitchen as they had to cook and feed a big family.
The common ingredients in Dalna!
Ground spices- Cumin, Red Chilli, Turmeric, Ginger, Bengali garam masala.
Whole spices- Cumin seeds, Green Cardamom, Clove, Cinnamon bark, Hing ( optional)
Potato- diced or chunky potato is a must to cook Dalna! Potato paired with different vegetables, lentil cakes make different Dalna. like Aloo- Kopir dalna, Dhokar Dalna.
Pieces of equipment
- 2-3 Mixing bowls
- Vegetable Peeler
- Either a small grinder to make a ginger paste or Microplane grater will do the job efficiently.
- Wooden spatula
- Cast iron dutch oven
Benefits of using a good cast iron dutch oven
Almost every Indian stew, curry, Dhal recipes call for slow- cooking. A heavy-duty cook pot with lid preferred for browning, slow cooking, stewing. Not only for Indian slow cooking recipes but also for my daily meal I love to cook in a cast iron dutch oven. I have two Chasseur cast iron dutch ovens, one is pink and the other one is black.
In my opinion, Chasseur is the most suitable choice for those seeking to take their first try into cooking with cast-iron cookware thanks to its affordable price point. It offers excellent cooking performance and results. Not only perfect for first-time users but also useful for the collectors of cast-iron cookware without breaking the bank. It comes in all sort of colours. In addition, it will last for a lifetime if you care for it properly!
Everten is an excellent place to order not only the cast-iron cookware, but it also has a vast range of cookware and kitchenware collection. They also offer free shipping all over Australia. Check their website for more information.
Apart from that, as anybody who has ever used a cast iron dutch oven knows they are heavy and you get a free bicep workout every time you use it!
What to serve with Aloo paneer er Dalna?
Aloo Paneer Dalna
- 300 gm Potatoes - 2 medium-size potatoes cut in a cube
- 350 gm Paneer - cut in cube pieces
- ¼ cup Peas - 40 gm
- ¼ cup Tomatoes - chopped ~ 40 gm
Tempering / Phoron:
- 1 Bay leaf
- ½ tsp Cumin seeds
- 2 Cloves
- 3 Green Cardamoms
- 1 inch Cinnamon Bark
- A fat pinch Hing or Asafoetida
- ½ inch Ginger - grated ~ 10 gm
- 2 tsp Cumin powder
- ½ tsp Red Chilli powder
- ½ tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
- 1 tsp Green chilli- ginger paste
- 1 tsp Turmeric powder
- ½ tsp Ghee
- ½ tsp Garam Masala
- Salt - to taste
- ½ tsp Sugar
- 4 tbsp Mustard Oil
- 1½ cup Boiling water
- In a mixing bowl, rub the potato cubes with ½ tsp of turmeric powder and salt to taste.
- Next, in a shallow bowl, except Garam masala, take ginger paste along with all ground spices, salt and sugar, add a little bit of water to make a paste.
- Add oil in a preheated Dutch oven and heat the oil over medium-high heat till smoky hot.
- Reduce the heat to low, add in potatoes to the hot oil, sprinkle salt and over medium heat cook for a few minutes, until potatoes are done and developed a golden colour, remove from oil.
- Next, add paneer to the remaining oil, sprinkle salt and over medium heat cook for a few minutes to develop a golden colour, by that time get ready some hot water in a bowl, remove the paneer from the oil and transfer to the bowl.
- Add whole spices to the hot oil and stir for a few seconds over medium heat to infuse the flavour to the oil, then reduce the heat to low, add chopped tomato, the mixed spice paste, give a stir and add a little bit of water.
- Increase the heat to high and let the spice mixture comes up to a boiling or simmering point, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover with a lid and let it cook for a few minutes ( about 5-6 minutes)
- When you smell the raw aroma of the spices has gone and oil releasing from the mixture, then add your fried potatoes to the spice mixture, give a stir to mix and absorbed all the flavour.
- Add peas, then take the fried paneer from the water and add to the mixture, give a gentle stir again.
- Add the water, I prefer to add the same water where I soaked my paneer because according to me this water is way more flavorful than plain warm water.
- Give a good stir and let the liquid comes up to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer for few minutes to thicken up the gravy, the gravy should be semi-liquid.
- When you get the desired consistency, increase the heat to high, sprinkle garam masala and ghee for extra flavour, give a final stir, cover with a lid and remove from heat.