Monday, April 5, 2010

Rice with Paneer Cheese and Bell Peppers

Paneer Simla Mirch Pulao

Fried cubes of paneer add succulent, moist chunks of flavour and nutrition in the form of protein and calcium to this simple pilaf. The bell peppers and tomatoes add nuances of taste, texture and colour, along with their own nutritional value. The result is a remarkably wholesome and elegant Sunday lunch rice dish that gos well with a cool yogurt salad.

Serves: 2

Basmati or long-grain rice - 1 cup
Firm ripe tomatoes - 2 medium, quartered
Fresh ginger root - 2 tsp, scraped, finely shredded or minced
Hot green chillies - 1 1/2 tsp, seeded, minced
Bay leaves - 2
Black peppercorns - 6
Water - 1 1/2 cups
Ghee or oil - 2 tbsp
Fresh paneer cheese - 1 cup, diced into 1/3 inch pieces
Cumin seeds - 1 1/2 tsp
Green or red bell peppers - 1 cup, cored, seeded, and chopped
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Coriander - 2 tbsp, finely chopped

1. Clean, wash, drain and soak the basmati rice in warm water for about 10 minutes.
2. Combine the tomatoes, ginger root, green chillies, bay leaves, peppercorns and water in a saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat.
3. Reduce the heat to moderately low. Partially cover and gently boil for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and force the liquid from the tomatoes and spices through a metal sieve into a bowl. Add enough water to make 1 2/3 to 2 cups of tomato stock.
4. Put the ghee or oil in a pressure cooker over moderate to moderately high heat When it is hot, add the paneer cheese cubes and gently stir-fry until they are evenly browned on all sides. Remove the cubes with a slotted spoon and set them aside.
5. Drop the cumin seeds in and fry for about 2-3 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients other than the coriander, raise the heat and quickly bring the liquid to full boil. Pressure cook for one whistle.
6. Remove from the heat and let the rice sit. covered, for 5 minutes to allow fragile grains to firm up. Just before serving, remove the cover and fluff the piping-hot rice with a fork and garnish with coriander.

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