Sunday, March 28, 2010

Muttar Paneer

Since discovering the Indian grocery store near our house, I have happily been experimenting with paneer recipes. I really love paneer because it's a cheese but it cooks like tofu. You can brown it, stir-fry it, cook it in liquid - whatever - and it still maintains its beautiful consistency. I love it.

Muttar Paneer basically means, "Let's cook the paneer and mix it with a literal ton of peas." I was underwhelmed by this dish (perhaps because I was overwhelmed by all the peas), but he really liked it. He made an astute observation that it seemed like a British Colonial influence on Indian food, since "The Brits really like their peas." That was an interesting statement since the recipe comes from British celebrity chef Nigella Lawson! Is she still airing on Food Network here anymore? I liked her. Anyway. I don't think I'd make this again. I still prefer the butter paneer.

Changes: I very, very significantly reduced the amount of oil (maybe 1 tsp total?) and I didn't bother pureeing anything.


Muttar Paneer
Nigella Lawson, via Food Network

1/2 cup vegetable oil
8 ounces paneer, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 onion, halved
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1-inch piece ginger, roughly chopped
Sprinkling of salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 (10-ounce) packets frozen peas
1 teaspoon tomato puree
1 cup vegetable stock

Special equipment: food processor

Heat the oil a large skillet and add the paneer cubes, in 2 batches, and fry until they are golden. Remove the golden cubes to a double thickness of kitchen towel. (It is possible to dry fry the paneer cubes in the pan with no oil, to avoid the oil splashing you. Then continue with the recipe below.)

Pour all but about 2 tablespoons of the oil out of the pan. Put the onion, garlic cloves, and ginger into a food processor and blitz to a coarse pulp. Fry gently for about 5 minutes with a sprinkling of salt. Stir in the garam masala and turmeric and cook for another 2 minutes before adding the still frozen peas.

Dissolve the tomato puree in the vegetable stock and pour over the contents of the pan. Stir again and turn the heat down to low, cover with foil or a lid and cook for 15 minutes, tasting to check that the peas are tender. You can cook muttar paneer up to this stage, if you like, uncovering and then reheating gently with the diced, oil-crisped cheese, or proceed directly now.

In which case, take off the foil and add the paneer cubes to warm them through before serving.

Yield: 8 servings

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