Thursday, April 7, 2011

"Indian Inspiration Week" Recipe 1: Paneer Matter

Chris had a strong hankering for paneer recently so I told him I'd whip up something tasty 'n' cheesy for him. Then I started thinking of some other favourite Indian dishes that I hadn't prepared in a long time. One thing led to another and I found myself grocery shopping on Monday afternoon for a 3-night Indian food extravaganza! On the menu: paneer matter, pav bhaji and eggplant & chickpea curry with lemon basmati rice. Yum!!

Now it's Thursday afternoon, our fridge is well-stocked with a variety of delicious leftovers, and unfortunately I've come down with a nasty bug so I won't be able to enjoy them as much as they deserve to be enjoyed. Boo. But! On the bright side, most of it freezes well so we'll pull it back out on a rainy day and savour it then!
In the meantime, I'm going to share each recipe with all of you! A bit of a change of pace from all the baby talk & giveaways. ;) Enjoy!

Recipe 1: Paneer Matter (or "Peas 'n' Cheese"!)

This is a mild, rich and comforting dish with great flavour. Paneer is the star of the show (so it took care of Chris' craving quite nicely ;) and is accompanied by peas in a tasty sauce of tomatoes, cream, onion and spices. It is reaallly easy to prepare, so it was a perfect way to ease into things for meal #1!

My version of this dish is adapted from the terrific vegetarian recipe book "Spice of India" by Bharti Vibhakar. She used to own a dried goods shop of the same name in downtown Kitchener but it closed down a year or so back. I was fortunate to grab the book from the shop when it was still open, as it seems there's no longer a way to purchase it. The main difference between her recipe and mine is that hers adds a tsp of khuskhus (ground poppy seeds) into the blended mixture to thicken the sauce, but I didn't have these so didn't follow this step. The sauce comes out thick & rich enough without it, however feel free to try adding this in if you want to follow the original more closely. I also adjusted the proportions a bit (for example, upped the amount of recommended ginger as I heart ginger!)  That said, I should also mention that I don't generally measure things out precisely. I'm too lazy and I find that things usually come out perfectly tasty if you approximate. This is one thing I'm definitely NOT a perfectionist about! :) But enough preamble. Here's the recipe!

  • 250-300 grams of frozen peas
  • 1 package of paneer (400 grams)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • A chunk of ginger, diced (1/2 inch to an inch, depending on how much you like ginger ;)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 4 tsp masala (garam, korma or pav bhaji)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream


1) Cut the paneer into small cubes and fry in the olive oil on medium heat until golden brown. Remove.

2) In a blender, grind the onions, tomatoes, milk and yogurt until smooth

3) Fry the ginger in the remaining oil for a minute and add all the spices

4) Add the onon mixture and cook (stirring frequently) for about 5-7 minutes

5) Add the peas and cook for about 5 minutes

6) Add the paneer back in and cook for a few more minutes

7) Serve and enjoy! (Note: we made ours this time with basmati rice but it's tasty with naan as well!)


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