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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Paneer and Peas

I have this idea in my head of what this blog would be like if I had all the time in the world. There would be a weekly post from the Farmer's Market in the summer. One of the weekly features would be a new curry recipe each week. I absolutely love all kinds of curry. It is also my favorite thing to cook for company as the spread of raitas and chutneys that can be made days ahead of time are always sure to impress. So, why don't I make curry more often? While it is true that there are many recipes that can be made quickly, I still prefer the recipes that direct to add one spice at a time building up the wonderful smell that fills the house. Also, I can not make curry without making Naan which always adds to the overall cooking time.
Paneer is something of a novelty here is Fairbanks as they don't sell it in any of our grocery stores. Lately I have been having David pick it up on his trips to Anchorage. Honestly, pressed extra-firm tofu works just as well in any Indian recipe that calls for paneer. Sometimes I use both in the same dish. This recipe is fairly quick and can be made on a week night.

Paneer and Peas
adapted slightly from Bon Appetit

2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 pound paneer or extra-firm tofu pressed, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch cubes
5 tablespoons olive oil or ghee, divided
1 large onion, cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 serrano chile, minced with seeds
1 14 ounce can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen peas, thawed
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Steamed basmati rice

Place flour in medium bowl. Add paneer to bowl; toss to coat with flour. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil or ghee in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Shake excess flour from paneer; add to skillet and cook until browned in spots, turning occasionally, about 4 minutes. Transfer paneer to plate; set aside. Reserve skillet.

Place onion pieces in processor. Using on/off turns, process until finely chopped but not watery. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons ghee in reserved skillet over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and stir until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add chopped onion and cook until beginning to brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add minced ginger, minced garlic, ground coriander, and minced serrano chile with seeds; stir 1 minute. Add tomato sauce, and turmeric; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium low; cover and simmer until mixture thickens slightly and flavors blend, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.

Add peas and cooked paneer; gently fold to incorporate evenly. Cook mixture over medium-low heat until peas are tender and paneer is heated through, folding occasionally, about 5 minutes. Fold in garam masala and cilantro. Season curry to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with steamed basmati rice.


  1. This sounds so good! I've never made curry at home, I guess it sounds intimidating to me. But I love to eat curry!

  2. Jeanne- I relate to your intimidation with curry. It wasn't until I made it with a friend at her house that I became brave enough to try it on my own. Honestly, if you get a good Indian cookbook it is pretty simple just to follow the directions. I find curries to be pretty forgiving and rarely even measure my spices anymore. Start with one of the Maddhur Jaffery books as they are simple clear instructions and lots of photos.

  3. Yummy..the curry looks delicious.

    Just curious!

    I didn't see coconut as a required ingredient on the page. I thought curry always need to come with coconut powder or any coconut related ingredients. I might be wrong..

    Jay Chua

  4. Jay- I'm no expert on this subject, but it has always been my understanding that curry is a blend of spices. Many cultures serve different types of curry. The curry you are referring to is very popular in U.S. Thai restaurants. I lean more towards Indian curries, which more often contain yogurt rather than coconut milk in my experience.

  5. I would never have thought about tofu. Great idea. Indian food and curry are in my top five of my most favorite food.


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