My husband made paneer mattar tonight without following a recipe. He just “threw in” paneer, tomatoes, onions, peas and masala, and it came out great! I can’t help but be envious – I want so much to be that kind of natural cook who can just whip something up without a recipe, but I’m not. I have to make my peace with the old recipe book, and taking an hour longer than my husband to make the simple things. Ugh!
On another note, my friend Kate’s new book, The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking, was published last month, and I just got my copy last weekend. I’m really looking forward to reading it and blogging about it, especially the “Life After Restaurants” section about cooking at home!
I haven’t been cooking for a long while, hence the lack of posts. I am proud of myself though, because tonight I whipped up some paneer kathi rolls and channa masala in less than 1 hour. The true sign of an up and coming cook – not taking 3 hours for a simple recipe. Score!
My husband and I are thinking about taking the 28-day Vegan Challenge as a way to break the dependency on animal products and jumpstart our fitness. Indian food lends itself quite well to veganism – you can avoid meat and dairy if you try. So stay tuned for some new recipes!
While I wait for my mother-in-law’s saag paneer recipe, I decided to try the one in my Indian Cooking cookbook. It wasn’t until after I made the recipe that I realized that the author’s name is Beverly Leblanc. Hmm. Is this why it was $3.99 at Marshall’s?
Nevertheless, the recipe seemed simple enough so I gave it a whirl. I cubed and pan fried paneer, then put it aside. I then sauteed an onion in ginger garlic paste and water. I added 3 bunches of fresh spinach leaves and simmered with the lid on until it was soft. I added garam masala, salt and chili powder. It didn’t taste like anything. I added more garam masala. Nothing. Finally, out of frustration, I added a teaspoon or so of sabji masala. Bingo.
In the end, it tasted good, though it was a little wetter than I would have liked and I probably should have drained it. It also didn’t really taste like any saag paneer I’d had before. My husband pointed out that I should have chopped the spinach fine. It wasn’t until after he said that that I realized that that was exactly what was wrong with it. The spinach leaves were too long.
Recipes from the web:
I suspect that my Indian Cooking cookbook, beautiful as it is, is geared towards non-Indians. When I added the amount of spices mentioned in the recipe, it didn’t have any taste. I think I need a new book – any recommendations? From Mom with Love looks good.
I looove kathi rolls, and so does my husband. I never thought it would be something I could make at home!
Before I made Mattar Paneer, my husband bought some ready-made paneer from the Indian store just in case. Fortunately, my dish came out well, so we still had an entire package of paneer to use up. A few nights ago, I didn’t feel like intense cooking, so I sauteed onions and peppers with ginger garlic paste, then added the cubed paneer and sabji masala (the veggie masala I mentioned in an earlier post). I wrapped it all in whole wheat chapatis and added mint chutney. Perfect!
The excellent thing is that we can still have kathi rolls without feeling guilty about it. When you buy them from a restaurant or street vendor, they are extremely greasy. I didn’t use any oil beyond the small amount of olive oil I used to saute the veggies and paneer.
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:
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.