Thursday, September 25, 2008

Paneer yogurt curry

After a somewhat forced sabbatical from my food blog because of computer problems, I’m feeling quite happy to be back! And oh, the relief of not losing all the unposted recipes with the accompanying photographs that were stored on the hard drive…! It was very disheartening to think of losing everything when my computer crashed, and although I had a laptop in its absence, it just didn’t feel right and I couldn’t raise the enthusiasm to even take photographs of recipes, much less post them on my blog. Anyway, eventually Pete got around to restoring my computer – with everything intact – and now I’m back in business, with strict instructions to back up my photos regularly onto his external drive. Sir, yes SIR!

What I have today is a paneer recipe yet again, except that this time I used paneer that I made myself. Yeah I know, it’s easy to make and all that... but people who are unaware of the awesome hold that inertia has over me will simply not understand why I had never made paneer at home thus far. It just seemed easier to buy it, especially when it became available at Tesco and Sainsbury.

But last week I had so many bottles of milk collecting in the fridge that I just had to DO something about it. The milk had accrued because Pete had been working away from home at a client’s all week – basically, if he isn’t at home to drink coffee, the milk stays sober (which means the same as undrunk, yeah? Oh I'm funny! *heheh*), as it were.

So if I’d made payasam or some Indian sweet, it would have:

1. ...been enough to supply a large Indian marriage party for two “veLai”s (meals, in essence) – but since there would have been no large Indian marriage party anywhere within 100 miles of Shrewsbury in any direction, really, I would have had to eat it all...

2. ... thereby going into a diabetic coma from all the sugar, since there are no takers for Indian sweets at home and I would be the only person to eat it all...

3. ... mainly because I would have been driven to madness from making the sweet in the first place as I don’t have the patience to stir ginormous quantities of milk to half the volume, and that resulting madness would have made me the only person to eat it all...

See what I’m getting at? Madness to use huge up huge quantities of milk to make huge quantities of sweets using huge quantities of sugar, madness to even try making it at all, madness arising from the effort of trying to make it, and definitely madness to risk a sugar overload. Madness all around, to put in a few words that which I’ve already said in many many words.

So, to avoid all that madness, I settled for making paneer.

First of all, I was surprised to see how much milk it takes to make a reasonable amount of paneer. (But what to do with the quantities of whey is a problem I haven’t managed to sort out. It’s sitting in the fridge right now, while I wait for a brilliant solution to arrive in my head. It might take a while.)

Secondly, I was surprised at how very much tastier it was than store-bought (yeah, I can be as DUH as the next person, okay?)... Pete loved the paneer – the taste, its soft spongy texture as opposed to the store-bought stuff, even the irregular oddly cubic shapes (I wasn’t able to cut up the paneer uniformly, and he was under strict instructions to love it anyway – a Sir Yes Sir! moment for him there).


Lastly but not leastly - yay, this is a foolproof and idiot-proof way to use up excess milk, AND have fresh paneer every two weeks or so!

This recipe (yes, I bet you were beginning to think there was no recipe, weren’t you? I KNOW these things!) was very basic, and therefore it was very satisfying that Pete raved about it. I thought it was pretty good too, but really, it was such a simple recipe that to me it didn’t merit quite that amount of pride. Still – it’s not my opinion that counts as much as that of people who have to eat my cooking.

So, here it is –

Recipe for: Paneer yogurt curry



1-1/2 cups fresh-made paneer cut into 1" cubes
1-1/2 cups tomatoes, chopped
¾ cup onions chopped fine
1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
1 tbsp rice flour
2 tsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
¾ tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp red chilli powder (optional)
¾ tsp garam masala or chana masala
1 tsp grated or ground ginger root
Salt to taste

1 tbsp oil
2-3 tbsp raw peanuts


1. Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan and fry the paneer till beginning to turn golden. Drain and reserve.

2. Add the second tsp oil to the oil in the pan and heat, then toss in the grated ginger.

3. Stir it about for 10 seconds in the oil, then add the turmeric, cinnamon, coriander, red chilli powders and the cumin seeds. Fry for 30 seconds or till the seeds turn a darker colour.

4. Add the onions and fry till they turn soft, then put in the tomatoes. Cook till the tomatoes break down. Mash the tomatoes in the pan itself with a potato masher till they become homogenous.

5. Stir the rice flour into the yogurt and add it to the tomato mixture along with salt to taste, stirring it in quickly. Let this simmer for 5-6 minutes. Now add the paneer pieces and turn them gently in the sauce so that they get well coated.

6. Sprinkle the garam/chana masala over the paneer and stir again gently. Let the paneer simmer in the sauce for 5-6 minutes.

7. While the paneer is simmering, heat 1 tbsp oil in a small tempering pan and add the peanuts. Stir gently till the skins turn dark and the peanuts turn aromatic (about a minute). Remove from the oil and sprinkle over the paneer yogurt curry just before serving.