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  • Mattar Paneer
    Peas and Homemade Cheese

    YIELD: 7 CUPS / 1.7 L
    TOOLS: You’ll need a food processor; 2 small mixing bowls; and a heavy-bottomed, 4-quart / 4-L sauté pan or Dutch oven.
    VEGANIZE IT! Use 1 (14-ounce / 400-g) container of tofu, baked instead of the Paneer—you may not even notice the difference.

    In our house, this dish rules—especially on Tuesday, when my husband’s family avoids eating meat and eggs. For many Hindus, paneer is the key protein on days of religious observance

    • 1 medium yellow or red onion, roughly chopped
    • 1 (1-inch / 3-cm) piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
    • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
    • 1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
    • 1 black cardamom pod
    • 1 (3-inch / 8-cm) stick cinnamon
    • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
    • 1–2 fresh Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed and thinly sliced
    • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
    • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
    • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
    • ¼ teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne pepper
    • 3 cups plus 1–2 tablespoons /710 mL water, divided
    • 2 cups /270 g frozen peas
    • 2–3 teaspoons salt
    • 1 pound /450 g cubed Paneer (1½ cups / 350 mL)
    • 1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
    • Brown or white basmati rice, Roti, or Naan, for serving
    1. In the bowl of a food processor, grind the onion, ginger, and garlic into a coarse paste. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and set aside. No need to clean the food processor bowl in between. Add the tomato to the food processor bowl and grind into a watery paste. Transfer to a second small mixing bowl and set aside.
    2. In a heavy-bottomed, 4-quart / 4-L sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium–high heat, warm the oil. Add the cumin seeds, cardamom, and cinnamon and cook for 40 seconds, until the cumin seeds sizzle and turn reddish-brown.
    3. Add the onion paste from Step 1 to the sauté pan and cook, stirring intermittently, for 10 minutes, until the mixture is slightly browned. You must stir often to prevent sticking. If the mixture dries out, add a little water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
    4. Add the ground tomato from Step 1, the tomato paste, the fresh chiles, the turmeric, the Garam Masala, the coriander, and the red chile powder to the sauté pan and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes, adding the 1 to 2 tablespoons of water as you stir to make sure the mixture does not burn. Add the peas and cook for 5 minutes. Add the remaining 3 cups / 710 mL of water and the salt to the sauté pan and bring to a boil.
    5. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, partially covered, for 8 to 10 minutes.
    6. Raise the heat to medium–high and gently add the Paneer to the sauté pan. Bring to a boil and cook at a steady boil for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside for 30 minutes. It’s important that you don’t let the dish boil too long, or the paneer (if homemade) will start to crumble and fall apart. Letting the dish sit also enables the paneer to swell and absorb flavors.
    7. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the cilantro. Serve over the brown or white basmati rice (my way) or with the Roti or Naan (the way my husband prefers it).

Indian For Everyone by Anupy Singla. Copyright © 2014 Anupy Singla. Published by Agate Publishing. All rights reserved.

© 2016 Alta Editions LLC.