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It seems to me that although you can find different recipes for each of the dishes described above, the gravy is basically the same, with the only difference for example between paneer butter masala and matar paneer is that matar paneer has peas in it.

(The gravy I'm taking about - frying cumin seeds, onions, ginger garlic paste, tomato, adding ground cumin, ground coriander, chilly powder, blending with cahshew paste and then adding cream and kasuri methi)

Am I correct in assuming this?

In addition - It seems to me that the same thing could be said about aloo gobi, channa masala, baingan bharta, and many other dishes - Basically the same frying of onions, ginger garlic paste and tomatoes, but with a different ingredient added at the end (for example eggplant for baingtan bharta).

If the recipes are actually the same, then it would mean a lot of the Indian dishes have a similar taste... I'm interested in the dishes as they are cooked in authentic Indian restaurants.

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    With the same mindset, you could describe most western savory dishes as being made out of onions, salt and pepper with some ingredients added :) – rackandboneman Aug 25 '16 at 15:01
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Paneer butter masala, malai kofta gravy and matar paneer are part of the North Indian cuisine where the base is mostly the same with some minor variations (like excluding cumin seeds).

So essentially, you have a common base gravy for sweeter dishes like these and then you have a spicier gravy for other dishes. Many Indian cuisines have this pattern. For example, Gujarati cuisine will have red chili powder, turmeric, garlic-ginger, mustard seeds, cumin powder, fenugreek, cilantro and jaggery, etc. as a general base with some additions and subtractions of the vegetable ingredients. Similarly, you'll be able to find common base gravies across Indian recipes and cuisines.

But, when you say: "In addition - It seems to me that the same thing could be said about aloo gobi, chana masala, baingan bharta, and many other dishes - Basically the same frying of onions, ginger garlic paste and tomatoes, but with a different ingredient added at the end (for example eggplant for baingan bharta)."

You are making a generalization which is not necessarily true. These recipes can vary quite a bit based on regional tastes, specially baingan ka bharta. This dish is a signature dish and needs a seasoned hand to deliver it right.

So, you are right when you say there is a common pattern across recipes. But certain dishes like aloo gobi will exist in different forms across the country. But rest assured malai kofta, paneer butter masala and matar paneer are only prepared in the North Indian style.

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Both three have some differences,they are not same in taste, texture and appearance. Paneer butter masala is a rich, creamy,cashew based gravy where red chilli powder and tomato gravy are used to prepare. Paneer butter masala taste less sweet, little spicy and having a thick smooth gravy. It is light red in colour.

And mutter paneer is a no sweet, spicy in taste dish,which is not thick smooth gravy in texture. It is light brown in colour. Additional use of green peas in mutter paneer.

Whereas Malai kofta is completely a sweet and salty dish in taste and is white colour in appearance. There is no use of red chilli,tomatoes.

You can check the recipe below for paneer butter masala to get an idea for it's taste, texture and appearance. Paneer butter masala recipe

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These are all post-colonization dishes and are in their nature fusion dishes, therefore aren't authentically a part of historic Indian cuisine. This is also why a butter paneer at one restaurant tastes drastically different than the other.

The post-colonization mire-poix-style equivalent core content for North Indian dishes is up to this part of what you're describing (frying cumin seeds, onions, ginger garlic paste, tomato) and then to this is added any spices (could be more spices than what you'd listed), cream/milk/cashew, etc and any vegetables.

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In an Indian restaurant in US they might use the same gravy, but back home it is different gravies.

  • Thanks for your contribution. Can you specify how they are different and which part of India is "back home?" That would greatly add to the answer. – moscafj Jul 22 at 11:17

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