Paneer in Tomato Sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    4 to 6

    As a Main Course

Appears in

This interesting cross between a sauce and a curry has echoes of the Indian subcontinent but is distinctively Burmese. Paneer is a fresh firm cheese that does not melt when heated; it’s available in South Asian groceries. You can also, nontraditionally, substitute pressed tofu for the paneer. The taste is a little different, but the result is very similar.

Made with paneer and soy sauce or miso, this dish is vegetarian; with tofu, it becomes vegan. Serve it over rice, pasta, or rice noodles. To reduce the heat, cut back the amount of chile powder and/or strip the seeds out of the cayenne chile.


  • cups roughly chopped ripe tomatoes or 5 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • Generous ¼ cup peanut oil
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ cup chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons minced or pounded garlic
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons Red Chile Powder, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste (ngapi), or substitute 1 tablespoon fish sauce or soy sauce or 1 teaspoon brown miso
  • About 1 pound firm paneer (see the headnote), or substitute pressed tofu
  • 4 to 5 green cayenne chiles, cut into ½-inch-wide slices
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 1 cup minced scallion greens
  • Scant 1 cup minced coriander leaves and stems


Place the tomatoes in a food processor and puree. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a wide pot or a large wok over medium heat. Add the turmeric and shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, chile powder, and shrimp paste, if using, and stir to mix well. Add the tomato puree and fish sauce, soy sauce, or miso, if using, and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice the paneer or tofu into ¼-inch-thick slices about 1 inch long and ½ inch wide. Add the paneer or tofu, chiles, and salt to the pan and simmer for 10 minutes. A couple of minutes before the dish is ready, stir in the scallion greens. Taste for salt, and adjust by adding salt or fish sauce, as you wish.

Turn out into a serving bowl, add the coriander, and stir; serve hot or at room temperature.