Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Muttar Paneer

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.


Pam said...

That sounds like a fairly perfect rainy saturday :)

jo said...

I adore paneer and can't understand why anyone would buy that rubbery stuff in a box when it is so fun to make it and tastes infinitely better.
Next up. Make your own ricotta and subsequently a nice cannoli and some lovely pillows of gnudi or ravioli.
Ricotta recipe and technique supplied to your inbox upon request. I've made it many times now and it is really hard to go back. If only I could get Sheeps milk!

aimee said...

Looks and sounds delicious, I don't think I've ever tried paneer at all. I'm not sure I could be bothered with making it from scratch. Perhaps with an excellent drinking companion, I could. Everything is better with a drinking companion. I'm aching for a day like this, it sounds just lovely :)

Hoping the post to follow isn't about injuries sustained on the microplane...

Mai said...

i really like this picture. and the paneer sounds amazing.

are you ever at a loss as to what to cook? or is there a 3-month backlog?

Anna said...

Pam - It was just about the best thing one could do on a rainy day! Almost makes you wish for more rainy days. Almost.

Jo - I would love a ricotta recipe!! I have tried making it before but wasn't happy with the texture. It was dry and rubbery, not soft and creamy.

Aimee - Ha! You know me too well. No microplane injuries as of yet. Stay tuned though, I am sure to oblige some time soon.

Maiya - It's pretty rare that I am at a loss for what to write about. I usually have a pretty hefty backlog. I just look through all my pictures till something strikes my fancy. I can always rant when all else fails!

JC said...

That does sound like a perfect day! The dish looks great, and I'm sure it tasted even better.

Anonymous said...

good job Anna,

By the way, did you know that we use the word "paneer" to refer to any kind of cheese?


Anonymous said...

looks delicious! i wish i was there with you guys. :)

uma said...

by the way it's uma that left the last comment...reading this made me miss you guys! :)

leena! said...

Anna~ Drinking by 10:30am? I knew you were a food lover, but now I KNOW you are a champ. It sounds like the start of my last chili cookoff:)