Sunday, April 2, 2017

Delhi Food Memories

সবজি দিয়ে পনির 

Paneer with Carrots and Peas

Paneer with carrots and peas for a nice weekend lunch

I've spent quite a while attempting to recreate a fantastic paneer and mixed vegetable dish our housekeeper in Delhi used to cook. I've gone through various iterations - I added paneer to my standard Bangladeshi vegetable recipe (fail); and then I curried my vegetables like my meat, adding paneer at the end (another fail). What's finally been successful is this tweak of Kaushy Patel's recipe for mattar panner in the GuardianI trust her cooking from my meals at Prasad, which is why I decided to look up her recipes after my failures

To her recipe I've added carrot and toned down the spices, almost halving the ginger and powdered coriander. I've also done away with the deep frying - because who does that at home? Our housekeeper's dish was a lightly-spiced everyday affair, so I've altered Patel's recipe to aline it to that philosophy. Patel does have a paneer and mixed vegetable recipe herself, but that is so heavily spiced that I'm ignoring it completely. The results below aren't exactly the real thing - our housekeeper didn't use tomato as a base - but the dish is satisfying enough that I wanted the recipe written down for future attempts. 

  • 4.00 cm of ginger
  • 350.00g paneer
  • 400.00g of tinned tomatoes 
  • 2.00 teaspoons powdered chilli
  • 2.00 teaspoons powdered turmeric
  • 2.00 teaspoons powdered coriander
  • 1.00 teaspoon powdered cumin
  • 200.00 g frozen peas
  • 1.00 carrot
  • Salt, to taste
  • Fresh coriander, one handful

  • Prep the ingredients first - chop and crush the ginger, finely chop the coriander and cut the paneer and into bite size cubes. Set each ingredient aside separately.
  • Heat some oil in a wok - pouring in enough so that when the panner is added to the pot it is at least partially submerged. Test the oil temperature by adding a cube of paneer - if it begins to sizzle the oil is ready. Make sure to turn the heat down to medium-low before beginning to cook
  • Add the cubes of paneer to the wok, gently turning each cube (I use tongs) as they fry to ensure they are cooked evenly. Remove the paneer cubes from the oil once they've begun to go golden on each side, which should take 3 to 4 minutes. Be careful - the oil will sizzle and jump
  • Open the tinned tomatoes, and stab repeatedly with a knife to break up the flesh. Pour the fruit into the oil and mix, and allow to cook for a minute
  • Follow up by adding the ginger, dry spices, fresh coriander and salt. Mix these ingredients thoroughly into the tomato, and cook on medium low heat for 5 to 8 minutes. The base is unlikely to burn in a non-stick wok, but do stir it a little every minute or so just in case 
  • While the spice base is cooking, take out the peas and leave to soak in water 
  • Boil some water in a kettle
  • Chop up the carrot into bite size pieces
  • Add the carrots to the wok, followed by the paneer. Mix and let cook for a minute, then drain and add the peas
  • Pour in some boiling water to the wok - varying the amount based on how much sauce you want your dish to have. Turn the heat to high, and stir to mix everything together
  • Bring the dish to boil, then turn the heat back down to medium. Partially cover the wok with a lid and leave to cook for 8 minutes
  • Once done, turn off the stove and leave the dish to settle. I usually let the oil come to the surface at this point, and drain or scoop it away 
  • Serve hot with plain boiled rice or flatbreads

Additional Info
If paneer isn't available near you, try this with another squeaky cheese - halloumi - using the same ingredient amounts as above. Halloumi is a lot crumblier than paneer though, so be gentle with it. I've had trouble keeping it together during pre-frying, and I would consider brushing it with some oil and toasting it in an oven next time. 

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