Thursday, April 22, 2010

Paneer with Peas, Tomatoes and Mint

Matar Paneer

This vegetarian recipe comes from the Punjab region in the north, This recipe works best if you make it ahead of time and let its subtle flavour develop as the cheese absorbs the blend of spices. It can, however, be served as soon as its ready.

Serves: 4

Frozen peas - 1 lb
     or Fresh peas - 1 1/2 lb
Fresh tomatoes - 2 cups, chopped into small chunks
Mint - 5-6 sprigs fresh, chopped finely
           or 1 tbsp dried
Coriander - 5 -6 sprigs fresh, chopped finely
Green chillies - 3 (or as desired)
Fresh ginger - 1 inch thick piece, coarsely chopped
Water - 1/4 cup
Ground coriander - 2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Paneer - 1 1/2 cups, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Fennel seeds - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Sugar - 1 tsp
Garam Masala - 2 tsp
Vegetable Oil - 1/4 cup, divided

1. If using frozen peas, remove from the package and place in a strainer, rinse under cold water, and set aside. If using fresh peas, remove from their shells and measure 1 cup and set aside.
2. Combine together the green chillies, ginger, water, ground coriander, turmeric and grind to paste using a blender.
3. Add 2 tbsp of oil or ghee to a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat the oil over medium heat. Add about 1/3 of the paneer cubes and lightly fry them until they just stat to turn brown.
4. Use a slotted, metal spoon to toss them around gently to brown them evenly. Be careful not to break the cubes. Remove the cubes to a bowl and repeat this step until all the cubes are browned.
5. Add mustard seeds to the pan and wait for them to splutter. Once they are done popping add the cumin and fennel seeds and fry until their colour deepens.
6. Add another 2 tbsp of oil and then add the spice paste to the frying pan and stir well to combine. Fry the paste for about 2-3 minutes, then add the chopped tomatoes.
7. Cook for about 8-10 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by one-half.  Add the peas and bring back to boil. Add the salt and sugar, cover, reduce the heat to low.
8. If using fresh peas, cook for 15 minutes. If using frozen peas, cook for 5-7 minutes. Add the paneer cubes, gently stir to combine, and heat through for 5 minutes.
9. Remove from heat, cover the pan, and let it stand for 30 minutes to 1 hour. When ready to serve, reheat on low for 5 minutes, or until warmed through. Sprinkle garam masala, the chopped mint and coriander, and serve warm.

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