Friday, April 9, 2010

Matar Paneer, Peas with Cheese

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(serves 4 as a main course)

This is another one of my favourite dishes. There's an Indian restaurant near where I live and their version of this is very good, which prompted me to try out my own. Mine turned out a bit different probably because of the combination of spices I chose, but in the end I liked mine even better. :)

I decided to make the paneer as it's really quite simple to do and ends up costing less than purchasing the ready made stuff (if you can even find it), and I wanted to use hormone and antibiotic free milk.

paneer (makes about 1/2 lb)
1/2 gallon of milk, (I used 1%)
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 tbsp white vinegar

Bring the milk and salt to a boil in a large saucepan, being careful not to let it burn. Remove from heat.
Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar and stir for about a minute until the milk curdles. If the curds don't separate enough from the whey, then keep adding 1 tsp of vinegar at a time until they do.

Place the cheesecloth in a colander over a large bowl (so you can reserve the whey)* and strain the curds. Pull up the edges of the cheesecloth and gently squeeze to remove any excess whey.

Place the cheesecloth and curds onto a large plate and weigh down the top with something like a heavy frying pan or cutting board. Leave this for about 2 hours, then either use the paneer or wrap it and refrigerate.

*I came across uses for whey at Chowhound . I added some to the Matar Paneer, and I'll use some for the rice which will accompany this.

Matar Paneer (can be made a day ahead and reheated)*
2 tbsp ghee, or clarified butter (or just plain unsalted butter)
1/2 lb paneer, cut into 3/4" cubes
1 large sweet onion, cut into quarters
2 large cloves garlic
2" piece of fresh ginger, skin removed
2-3 jalapeno peppers, seeded
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch or more of cayenne, to taste
1/2 6oz can tomato paste, (freeze the other half for another use)
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 cup water or whey
3 1/2 cups shelled peas, (1 lb bag frozen)
1/3 cup heavy cream (optional)
salt to taste
small handful fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat 1 tablespoon of  ghee (half) in a large non-stick skillet and add the paneer cubes. Fry them until they are a light golden brown. Remove and set aside.

Place the onions, garlic, ginger and jalapeno peppers into the bowl of a food processor, and process until smooth.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of ghee to the skillet, set the temperature to medium-low and add the pureed onion mixture. Cook, stirring from time to time until it thickens; about 15 minutes.

Stir in the garam masala, turmeric, cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon and cayenne. Cook for another minute or two.

Add the tomato paste, yogurt and water or whey. Stir well then cover and simmer gently over low heat for about 25 minutes.

Stir in the peas and the paneer, and simmer for another 8-10 minutes.

Stir in the heavy cream (or more water or whey if the mixtures seems too thick) and the chopped cilantro. Bring back to a simmer. Add salt if needed.

Serve with rice and/or naan.

*This dish seems even better reheated the next day.


Crepes of Wrath said...

I'm so hungry now!

Muneeba said...

My first time here! This recipe drew me in like a moth to a flame ... love muttar paneer!

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