Paneer was introduced to India, and the neighboring countries, Pakistan and Bangladesh, by the Afghan and Persian invaders. Today is is considered to be the quintessential of 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 bot unusual and wonderful. This Rajasthani recipe is rich in flavor. The soft cheese, sorry I do not fry it to make the dish healthier, is slathered in a yogurt based tomato-onion sauce that is spiced with chilli and spices. The addition of roasted green frying peppers, you can use large stuffing green chiles, Italian frying peppers, or Hungarian wax peppers, brings a wonderful flavor 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 recies 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 chili powder, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 cup yogurt, 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 color, 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 colored.
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 chili and turmeric powders and cook for 1 minute. Add the yogurt and turn the heat down to medium-low and cook till the yogurt 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, and add the paneer and simmer till the curry thickens. Add the peeled green chilies in and submerge 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 the cilantro.