Introduction: TJ's Masala Simmer Sauce Hack

Our favorite Indian restaurant closed unexpectedly a few years ago and since then we've been trying to find a suitable replacement. Since we've been doing more cooking at home and more experimenting, we came up with this pretty tasty masala hack using Trader Joe's Masala Simmer Sauce---which on it's own I feel is missing a lot of flavors and heat.


1 jar of Trader Joe's Masala Simmer Sauce

Substitute 1/3 can of cream of coconut or coconut milk for the 1 cup of water called for in the Masala sauce directions (start at 1/3 cup of coconut and then add more depending on your taste preferences)

1/4 cup water *optional

1 package of paneer

1 onion

1 bell pepper (or several mini peppers)

*optional 1/2 can of plain tomato sauce or chopped roasted tomatoes

Pinch of red pepper flakes *optional*

Step 1: Prep

Slice and dice onions, peppers, and tomatoes. Chop paneer into 1/2"x1x2" slices.

Step 2: Quick Cook

Lightly vegetables and paneer in a 400 degree preheated oven for 5-10 minutes, flipping once to make sure all sides are browned OR roast in a sauce pan with 1 tbs of olive oil for 3-5 minutes.

Do the same for the paneer, about 4ish minutes on both sides. You may want to sprinkle with garam masala or tumeric powder for a little added flavor.

Step 3: The Sauce

Pour the sauce, coconut milk/cream, and/or water, into a sauce pan and stir well. Then add vegetables and paneer. Lower heat and let simmer for really as long as you think it needs to simmer. I usually do about 40-60 minutes depending on how well I timed dinner.

I think the only difference between coconut cream or milk in this recipe is consistency and that the cream is a little sweeter. I used about 1/3 of a can of coconut cream and 1/4 cup of water to thin out the sauce. Using a full cup of water makes the sauce really bland. Increase the amount of coconut based on your preferences, but I'd start on the lower side.

I also put the coconut cream and water into the masala jar and shook it to get any remaining sauce.

Step 4: Cook

Let everything cook/simmer together over medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes. Serve with basmati rice and naan.

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