Matar Paneer

dsc_1620RECIPE #370, DAY #542

FOUR STARS

ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Green Peas and Indian Cheese in Fragrant Tomato Sauce”/”Matar Paneer” from Julie Sahni’s Classic Indian Cooking*

TIMING: 2 hours

DIFFICULTY: Not too difficult

TOOLS: Nonstick saute pan or wok

COOK TYPE: Stovetop

HEALTH: This is a nice, healthy entree, and vegetarian to boot. With cheese as the protein, it is full of antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients bursting from the vegetables and flavorings.dsc_1618

EXPERIENCE: When I started making the menu for Indian supper club, I knew that I wanted to include a dish with paneer. I love paneer, but dishes at Indian restaurants usually have very little paneer in them, and I never see paneer at the local grocer. I was really happy when I visited the Asian grocer at the corner and discovered they had both frozen and fresh paneer. The man there talked me in to the fresh and I splurged on the biggest block I could find.

In the end, this dish fell a little short of expectations. The sauce was not smooth enough, and the flavors were not complex enough. However, I would make it again, but just puree the sauce and taste for flavors. After all, it came from a classic Indian cookbook.

***

  1. Cut 1 package fresh or defrosted paneer into 1/2-inch cubes. Set out on wax paper. Toss with a couple tablespoons all purpose or white rice flour. Allow to dry out.
  2. In a nonstick saute pan or wok, heat 3 tablespoons ghee or butter over medium heat. Add the paneer so that it does not crowd. (It may take more than 1 batch.) Put a splatter screen over top and stir about once per minute, scraping up the bottom. Cook until browned on some sides. Remove paneer to a plate.
  3. Add another 6 tablespoons ghee or butter to the pan and increase heat to medium-high. Add 2 cups minced onion and stir until golden brown.
  4. Add 1 clove pressed garlic and 2 tablespoons grated ginger. Stir for 2 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1 teaspoons turmeric, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper. Stir for 10 seconds then add 2 cups diced tomatoes with juice.
  5. Cook about 10 minutes, until fat starts to separate from the pulp. Add 2 1/2 cups hot water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat. Process until smooth with an immersion blender.
  7. Return to heat and add 1/2 cup water, the paneer, 1 1/2 cup frozen peas, and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat again.
  8. Cover and allow to rest for 1 hour, then stir in 4 tablespoons minced cilantro and 2 teaspoons garam masala.

***

Serve with rice or buttered naan. Yum.

LEFTOVER IDEAS: Just warm up and serve with hot rice or naan in the few days after.

*Recipe changed from the original.

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