Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Matar Paneer

Matar Paneer, or "Green Peas and Indian Cheese in Fragrant Tomato Sauce"

Paneer from 8 cups milk, should be firm but not hard, compact and not porous, moist but not wet. (dan's note: I just bought some paneer. It worked fine but was maybe a little harder than it should be, it didn't absorb all the flavor)
12 tbsp ghee (dan's note: I used a lot less, maybe 1/3-1/2)
2 c. onions, finely chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp ginger, minced
2 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
2 c. chopped or pureed tomatoes, or 1 1/2 c. canned diced tomatoes
1 1/2 c. peas, or 10 oz. frozen peas
2 tsp salt
2 tsp garam masala
4 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves (or 2 tbsp dried cilantro leaves)

Let paneer dry for 1/2 hr.
Heat 3 tbsp ghee in a big heavy (optionally nonstick) pan. Add cheese. (it'll splatter) Fry until lightly seared, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
Add the rest of the ghee, turn heat to high, add onions and fry until light brown (~5 min), stirring constantly so they don't burn. Add ginger and garlic, cook 2 more minutes. Add coriander, turmeric, red and black pepper, and paprika. Stir for a moment, add tomatoes. Cook until it thickens and the fat separates, about 10 minutes, stirring often.
Add 2 1/2 c. hot water, boil, simmer 20 minutes. Cool briefly, puree in a blender, leaving it a little coarse so there's some texture.
Return to the pan, add peas, salt, cheese, and 1/2 c. water, boil, simmer until peas are cooked. Let it rest an hour before serving, then reheat, add garam masala and cilantro, and serve.

Source: Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni, pg. 266-268

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