Saturday, June 7, 2008

paneer sabzi

My FIL came to visit us last weekend and brought a sealed packet of long life paneer. It has been ages that I have eaten anything with paneer here in Hamburg. And even longer since I made it myself. Atleast not since my son is born. Earlier, in summers, when we used to barbecue or were invited for one, I always made a lot of paneer and marinated it in Indian style on a skewer along with veggys to grill. Those were times....sigh! But every thing has it advantages and disadvantages, isn't it?!Well, it is not impossible now, but the motivation to spend hours in the kitchen just to make some recipe with paneer. So, when I opened the packet, I was very skeptical about how it looked. I found it much too hard. I pat dried it wih a paper towel and cut it into slices and remembered the conversation with my FIL from the last weekend where I told him that I had once tried a readymade paneer, about two years ago, which was too hard. He said that if I fry it nicely it will turn soft. But I was still a bit skeptical. I always found frying paneer very cumbersome and difficult. All the time it would stick to the base and by the time I could turn it around it would have a dark brown layer over it and break into pieces. Atleast with the self-made paneer.
Anyways, I still was enthusiastic enough to give it a try. I'm an optimist, when it comes to cooking!

I started frying them in a generous amount of oil in my large stainless steel sauté pan, leaving enough space between them to avoid breaking them while turning. I was doing it on a comparitively high heat, and as expected some pieces of paneer started to stick to the base and wouldn't turn. I reduced heat and started to scratch the base to free it of the paneer sticking to the floor. I reduced the heat further. And only after hald a minute I found the rest of them allmoving easily and not sticking any more. And then it struck me....oh yes....what a fool I've been all the time. I had been using tooo high temperaure! So, now i know it should not more thn medium heat while fring them sohtta they get a gentle golden yellow colour.. And this was fun to do too!

So, this is my recipe, where the only thing I missed was fresh coriander (cilantro):

Ingredients:

200 g Paneer (Indian cottage cheese), sliced into 1 cm x 3 cm strips, 1 cm thick
2 small onion, peeled and cut into slices
1 1/2 large tomatoes, cut into thick slices or large cubes
1 -1/2 green bellpepper, diced into large pieces
200 g crimini mushrooms, stalks removed and cleaned with a wet paper towel
1 cm piece of ginger, finely chopped or grated
1 pinch chilli
1 tbsp corinader powder
1 tsp pav bhaji masala
(optionally garam masala)
12 mint leaves, finely chopped
salt to taste

Method:

  • Cut the block of paneer into pieces and fry on medium heat in a generous layer of oil in a sautè pan on one side till a slight golden colour appears on them. Fry the other side till they turn soft. Set aside.
  • Sauté the mushrooms, green bellpeppers and onions together in the remainig oil on high heat. If required, remove excess oil before.
  • Reduce heat after 4-5 minutes to medium and add ginger and all the spices and salt. Stir. Cover lid and cook for a few minutes
  • Add tomatoes and paneer. Cook further and switch off the heat before the tomatoes lose shape.
  • Add mint, stir. Serve with indian bread, naan, or parantha.
We ate it with chana daal and a type of turkish or arabic flat bread, which looked a bit like parantha and a bit like naan, and a simple green salad with lemon-olive oil dressing. And I must say, it was not bad at all. I might very well try it out again, if I get a chance to buy this paneer.

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