December 24, 2008
The pre-Christmas period has been relentless. Every time I heaved a sigh of relief and posted the last Christmas card I remembered someone else who slipped off the list. The venue for the big day changed, which meant more presents to buy last minute.
The man stopped work too. So he needed someone to play with in between crap movie fests. Not great for my writing plans.
And just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, I hurt my knee scrambling towards non-alcoholic mulled wine at the Christmas Fayre in Hyde Park. The curry Christmas Eve meal for eight would now have to be cooked with the most glamorous accessories of all – a hobble and knee bandage.
Still, I had promised a vegetarian Christmas curry option and here it is. Paneer Pasanda, a creamy and nutty cheese curry that is rich and decadent. If you ate this in an authentic restaurant, the paneer pieces would comprise slices sandwiched with cashew paste and fried in a gram flour batter before being layed in the pale curry. But I’m hoping you, like me, have better things to do that create paneer sandwiches for curry around Christmas.
Here is my quick version. Equally delicious and worth every effort. Happy Christmas and New Year to you and your family. If I’m missing in action for a few days, please forgive me. And don’t forget to have that extra alcoholic drink for me on New Year’s Eve, will you?
Dry roast all the whole spices apart from the black cardamom by placing under a hit grill for 5 seconds. Then powder in a food processor along with the ginger, garlic and a tablespoon of water.
Chop the onion finely and bring the oil to heat in a medium saucepan over a high flame. When it’s hot, add the black cardamom and as it sizzles, the onions. Fry the onions for about five minutes until pale golden and then add the spice paste.
Stir fry this for another five minutes and stir in the yogurt. Fry on a high heat for two minutes, then add a cup of hot water and leave to simmer for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, puree the almonds and cashewnuts into a paste with two tablespoons of hot water and stir them into the curry. When the simmering time is up, fish the black cardamom out and g straight into the pan with a hand blender and puree the masala into a smooth curry.
Now slice the paneer into 1 cm thick squares and lay them in the masala. Simmer the whole lot for a final 10 minutes until oil floats to the top. Finish by drizzling the tabelspoon of cream on top and serve hot.