Indian cottage cheese or Paneer as it is commonly known is a versatile ingredient used in Indian vegetarian cooking. It has a mild flavour which is great as it soaks up all the goodness of spices. Paneer also cooks very quickly which makes it a great choice for a quick paneer tikka or in a curry. Similar to Halloumi in texture and does not disintegrate when simmered in gravies. I’m a huge fan of Indian cheese and all the more as I also rustle up homemade paneer using just a couple of ingredients (milk and lemon juice). It is also readily available in stores now.
2 tbsp Vegetable oil for shallow frying 500gms paneer
for the the CURRY
2 tbsp vegetable oil 2 onions finely chopped 1 tsp ginger paste 1 tsp garlic paste 1 heaped tsp ground cumin 1 heaped tsp ground coriander 1/4 tsp turmeric 1 tsp chilli powder 400g tinned or 4 fresh tomatoes blended to a puree Pinch of brown sugar (optional) Salt to taste 200mls water 200g frozen green peas ½ tsp garam masala powder 2 tbsp coriander for garnish
1. Heat vegetable oil for shallow frying in a pan over a medium heat. Add the paneer cubes in batches and fry. Make sure they get an even colour and go a light brown (this should take around 2-3 minutes) Drain over kitchen paper and set aside. (This step is optional - You can just add the Paneer without frying).
2. Heat oil in a heavy bottom sauce pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and fry for 8 minutes. Stir well as they begin to change colour turn the heat low and add the ginger and garlic paste. Fry well for 2 minutes stirring continuously.
3. Add the cumin, coriander powder along with the turmeric and chilli powder. Fry for a minute and add a splash of water making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and continue cooking the raw flavour of the spices for a further minute.
4. Add the blended tomatoes simmer the curry over a low heat for 8-10 minutes with lid on. Stir a couple of times through the cooking process. Add 200mls water along with the (sugar if using) and salt. Continue to simmer for 5 minutes with the lid on.
5. Add the frozen peas, paneer cubes and the garam masala. Stir well, making sure to coat all the pieces with the sauce. Simmer for 3-4 minutes and turn the heat off. Garnish with coriander and serve.
Serve with paratha or rice and raita.
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