So Archna and I made paneer. Well, that’s not really all we did. It was a Saturday to be remembered. We got up at about 9:30AM… I had my first beer by 10:30. It all went downhill from there and it wasn’t pretty. Picture two people splayed out on a couch in front of a TV blaring the Food Network, the coffee table in front of them littered with cheese, bread, and newly emptied bottles of wine. We managed to capitalize on our sporadic moments of motivation to extricate ourselves from the siren call of my couch to push on in making the paneer and engineering its starring role in one of my favorite dishes of all time, muttar paneer.
It went a little something like this:
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, grated (I grated both the ginger and the garlic on a microplane. You could also pulverize the garlic in a food processor if making a large batch to store).
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp chili powder
1¼ cups water
1/3 cup frozen peas
1 tomato, chopped (we used about 12 cherry tomatoes, halved)
A pinch of sugar
Fried paneer (really don’t know what amount to give… as much as you would like to add? Not very scientific, I know. I think our half gallon of milk yielded 1 – 1½ cups of paneer and we added it all in).
- Toast the cumin seeds in canola oil until they turn pink and begin to release fragrance.
- Add onion, ginger and garlic, sweat until the onion softens.
- Add the ground spices (cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chili powder), cook for another 3 minutes or so.
- Add water, bring to a boil.
- Add tomatoes and simmer on med high heat (a fairly potent simmer) about 10 minutes, mushing up the tomatoes slightly to homogenize.
- Add frozen peas and fried paneer.
- Add more water if necessary to cover the paneer.
- Cook another 10 minutes to infuse the paneer with the spices.
- Add a pinch of sugar to bring out the sweetness of the peas, salt to taste, serve over rice.
Oh it was wonderful! The paneer was tasted like the essence and soul of milk, condensed into a resilient fried nugget. It was creamy yet firm, with a fresh taste that you can only get from farmhouse milk still warm from a cow. Totally gross description, I know, but having experienced it, I find little else to compare it to.
The paneer was luscious and rich but had the little squeak of a fresh cheese curd. The heat from the chili powder, sweetness from the peas, acidity from the tomatoes and slight punch from the ginger were all in perfect balance with each other and generally got on famously. The pops of the peas, the squeaks of the paneer, and my grunts of approval harmonized beautifully.
I would have been happy to eat the fried cheese all by itself but felt we should have something more involved to show at the end of our day of Gluttony and Sloth. And we did. We had muttar paneer and we had Pride. It was a great day.