When it comes to curries, nothing quite beats the satisfying vegetarian favourite of paneer curry. A rich, suitably spicy gravy generously coats bites of tender paneer cheese, forming a dish that even meat-eaters can’t resist. Whether you’re searching for the vividly green palak paneer, or the rich butter version, here are five places in the Cape to get your paneer curry fix. Pro tip: don’t forget a side of garlic naan.
This hidden gem is the perfect place for a hearty mid-week curry. The palak paneer here, a brilliant green colour, is the stuff of dreams – it’s creamy, earthy and generously flavoured with ginger (R70). There’s also aloo paneer with potato (R60); matar paneer with peas (R70); paneer makhani with cream and cashews (R70); and kadai paneer cooked in a wok-style pan called a kadai (R70). All curries here are served with fluffy basmati rice, but a side of butter or garlic naan bread wouldn’t go amiss.
The Indian Chapter with Prim Reddy (Bloubergstrand)
Locals flock to this popular venue, which belongs to TV personality Prim Reddy, for a good curry fix. The tandoor oven is essential here, not only for the great naan breads, but also for the deliciously fragrant curry dishes. The menu is vast and the flavours can be made as hot as you like or toned down, with two kinds of paneer options to choose from. The creamy palak paneer (R85) comes freshly prepared in a sauce of spinach and spices, and the paneer makhni is served in a spiced gravy of tomato, butter and cream (R85). End on naan bread stuffed with minced cashews, coconut and raisins.
Maharajah Vegetarian (Rondebosch)
One of the most popular specialties at this exclusively veggie-friendly spot is the palak paneer (made with paneer cheese or bean curd paneer) in a light spinach sauce (R75). There’s paneer korma with cream, coconut and peas, or paneer butter masala with a creamy butter sauce (R75). Each dish comes in a roti wrap or is served with basmati rice, raita and sambals. The food here is also free of ghee (clarified butter), making use of olive oil instead.
Maharajah South Indian Restaurant (Tamboerskloof)
The paneer butter masala here is a firm favourite. It really is a winner, with beautifully marinated cubes of paneer, rich gravy and a creamy finish (R95). Matar paneer and palak paneer are also on the menu (R95). As with any Indian dish, up the flavour ante with accompaniments to enhance every bite – try it with poppadums, buttery parathas, fresh raita, or zingy mango-and-lime pickle.
Vanie Padayachee’s contemporary Indian eatery features a made-to-share offering of fragrant curries and North-Indian flavours. Vegetarians are taken care of with a creamy, light and perfectly spiced palak paneer, as well as the paneer korma with a mildly spiced gravy made with cashews, onions, yoghurt and a rich swirl of cream (R110). If you’re looking for something from the clay oven, the paneer tikka will hit the spot. Add a side of paneer-stuffed naan for extra measure. Filled with chilli, coriander, garlic, onion and paneer, it’s a creamy, fluffy bite loaded with flavour and could be a main on its own.