October 20, 2006
Paneer, or Indian cheese, is one of those wonderful ingredients that once you discover you wonder how you ever lived without. Making it from scratch is comparable to opening a massive box of shoes only to find flip flops inside it. Sorry boys – think big garage little skoda.
If you want to have a go, try the recipe by Kate in the Kitchen. I’d rather focus my limited energy on making the dish. Besides paneer is readily available in Indian food shops and larger supermarkets.
This recipe is tradional Punjabi fare. It’s so simple and effective. Serious QIC staple and great choice for a Diwali meal.
This recipe serves 4-5 hungry souls:
2 medium white onions
1.5 long stick of ginger
3 fat garlic cloves
3 chopped tomatoes, chopped into little bits
1 cup frozen peas
3 tbsp plain Greek yoghurt
3 tsp coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
Â½ tsp turmeric powder
Â½ tsp extra hot chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
250gms paneer or Indian cheese, chopped into 2cmx1cm cubes
3 tbsp sunflower oil
The magic ingredient is 1 tsp kasoori methi, soaked in 1 tsp of hot water, but don’t worry if you don’t have this.
Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan and when hot, fry the paneer until golden in colour on two opposite sides. Remove from the oil and set aside.
Puree the onions, ginger and garlic in a food processor. Add the third tablespoon of oil to the pan the paneer was fried in. Heat the oil and when hot, fry the onion mixture, stirring regularly. The paste needs to fry until it turns a pale green and then starts going brown in parts.
Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric and chilli powder. Keep frying the mixture, until the masalas lose their pungent smell. If the mixture starts sticking to the bottom of the pan, add a little water.
Then add the chopped tomatoes and keep frying. When the tomatoes disintegrate, lower the flame and let the mixture simmer.
In the meantime, give the yoghurt a little whiz in the food processor. This will introduce some air in it and prevent it from splitting when you add it to the mixture.
When the mixture in the pan starts oozing oil from the sides and through little holes, turn the flame up and add the yoghurt. Fry this for a while, mixing vigorously.
Taste the mixture to make sure the onions are cooked. The colour of the mixture should have darkened. When the onions lose their raw taste, add one cup of shelled peas and half a cup of water. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.
When the oil from the masala and peas mixture floats to the top, add salt and the kasoori methi and water. Mix in the paneer cubes and simmer for five minutes. Serve immediately.