My first Indian dish was Mattar Paneer. My mother-in-law knows I’m a big paneer fan (which is why we bought the maker) and offered me the choice between Mattar Paneer or Palak Paneer for my first recipe. I love Palak Paneer, but the husband doesn’t. I figured I’d wow him from the beginning and then, later on, I’ll make the dishes I like 🙂
My mother-in-law showed me how paneer is made two years ago, and it looked really easy. All you do is boil milk, and then pour in either lemon juice, lime juice or vinegar. This causes the curds to separate. You take them out and put them into a special strainer to remove all the liquid. It solidifies, and then you can cut it into blocks. Simple!
I was secretly afraid that the fact that it seemed so easy would mean that it wasn’t, or that I would completely screw it up. I boiled the milk, then poured the lemon juice. The curds separated, just as they were supposed to. At first I wasn’t sure I had done it right – it didn’t look like a lot of curd. There were little pieces floating everywhere. But once I fished them out, put them in the strainer, drained all of the liquid and let it sit with a heavy book on it, as I was instructed, it all came out great.
I don’t feel comfortable sharing my mother-in-law’s recipes without her permission, so I’ve taken the liberty of collecting a few Mattar Paneer recipes from around the web for you. I can’t vouch for any of them but hey, give it a shot! I will say – and I hope this doesn’t make you lose respect for me – that I didn’t use all of the different spices the recipes call for. My mother-in-law gave me packets of masala from Calcutta – one for chicken and one for veggies – and they substitute nicely for all of the other spices. If you have a local Indian store, they might have something similar.
Recipes from the web:
- My Dhaba: Mattar Paneer
- Manjula’s Kitchen: Mattar Paneer (with video)
- Show Me the Curry: Mattar Paneer (with video)
Once the paneer was done, the rest was quite easy. The great thing is that paneer, like tofu, soaks up spices and flavors like nobody’s business.
Dish #1 = success.