Updated: Mar 5
Paneer was introduced to India, and the neighbouring countries, Pakistan and Bangladesh, by the Afghan and Persian invaders. Today is considered to be the quintessential Indian cheese and there are a number of classic Indian dishes that are made in every home and Indian restaurant.
I definitely do not cook as much with paneer as I would like. But here is a dish that is both unusual and wonderful. This Rajasthani recipe is rich in flavour. The soft cheese, sorry I do not fry it to make the dish healthier, is slathered in a yoghurt-based tomato-onion sauce that is spiced with chilli and spices. With the addition of roasted green frying peppers, you can use large stuffing green chiles, Italian frying peppers, or Hungarian wax peppers bringing a wonderful flavour that compliments the sauce. Together they are delicious. This is a wonderful side dish that compliments any meal and can be enjoyed with either rice, naan or chapattis.
This specialized volume of dishes from Rajasthan is packed full of traditional recipes from the region. The collection of recipes is quite exhaustive and every recipe I have tried has been well-received by my customers. The recipes highlight the arid landscape of the region and the book focuses primarily on meat and lentil dishes and of course the wonderful desserts.
For more recipes from the wonderful cookbook, click here.
1 medium block paneer, cut into large squares or rectanges
3-4 tablespoons ghee (optional)
6-10 large green chiles
3 tablespoons ghee
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek (methi) seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin (jeera) seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel (saunf) seeds
2 onions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 cup yoghurt, whisked with 2 teaspoons of gram (besan) flour
Salt, to taste
2 tomatoes, finely diced
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
Cilantro, minced and to garnish
You can fry the paneer in the first step to a nice golden colour, but I tend to avoid this step to cut down on fried foods. In addition, I do not believe that it affects the quality of the dish.
Roast the peppers in a single layer in the oven till charred and blistered all over, turning them every 5 minutes till done. Remove and cool. Remove the skins but leave them whole. Set aside.
Heat the ghee in a deep wide pot, large enough for all the paneer and peppers to fit comfortably in almost a single layer. Add the fenugreek, cumin and fennel seeds and sauté on medium heat for 10 seconds till lightly coloured.
Add the onions and continue to sauté till the onions are golden about 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the ginger paste and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add the chilli and turmeric powders and cook for 1 minute. Add the yoghurt and turn the heat down to medium-low and cook till the yoghurt has cooked off and the oils are released, about 5-7 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and salt and continue to cook till the tomatoes are broken down and dry out allowing the oils to pool out again. Add the water and cilantro, add the paneer and simmer till the curry thickens. Add the peeled green chillies and submerge them in the curry. Simmer for 2 minutes and turn the heat off.
To serve, heat the curry carefully, it may need a touch of water if it has dried out, so as not to break up the peppers. I like to serve the curry in a wide shallow bowl with the peppers interspersing the paneer. Top with cilantro.