As I mentioned before, I ran for cover every time it was known that Mom was making Paneer (Indian cheese) for dinner. However, if there was one Paneer dish that I liked, and yes, there was one, it was Paneer Keema. For my meat eating friends who are familiar with Keema (a dry minced meat dish made with goat, lamb, beef or chicken), this is the vegetarian version.
A dry dish, it is quite delicious with an Indian bread (Naan, Tandoori Roti or Paratha) of your choice. However, like all good food, there are no rules, you can even have it with sliced white bread if you like. In fact, I would go so far as to say, made with more tomato than the recipe calls for below, this might be worth trying on with spaghetti as an alternative to Bolognese sauce (Note to self. Need to try and Paneer Keema Spaghetti dish): a little Indian-Italian fusion, if you will.
As far as making this dish goes – if you know how to make Matar Paneer, then you know how to make it. Start with the Paneer: if you are making it from scratch, and you should be making it from scratch, just collect the curds. No need to weigh them down and make a cake out of them. The rest of the process is very similar to Matar Paneer except you want to end up with a drier texture of the dish.
INGREDIENTS (to serve four average adults as a main dish)
Paneer made from 1 US gallon of milk
Cooking oil (I used Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
2 tbsp cashew pieces
1/2 onion – chopped
1 tsp garlic – minced
1 tsp ginger – minced
2 tomatoes – diced
1 bay leaf
4 green cardamom pods
1 stick cinnamon
1 tsp kasoori methi (fenugreek – you can get this at an Indian store)
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp cumin + 1 tsp coriander seeds – ground
1 tsp Garam Masala
Salt to taste
1. Heat the oil on medium heat (1-2 tbsp).
2. Add cashews and cook till they just start to turn golden brown.
3. Add onions and saute till the onion starts to become translucent.
4. Put in garlic and ginger and cook for 3-4 minutes.
5. At this point the garlic+ginger+onion+cashew mixture should not be smelling raw but should not be browning. Add the tomatoes.
6. Cook till tomatoes are pulpy.
7. Remove from heat, cool and puree.
8. Take a saucepan and heat 1 tbsp of cooking oil.
9. Saute the bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon till the cardamom pods start popping. The bay leaf should be barely starting to brown.
10. Add the Paneer curds and brown them slightly then add frozen peas.
11. Add the puree and add water to make the gravy of the consistency needed. You want the dish to be quite dry in texture.
12. Add the kasoori methi, red chili powder and the cumin/coriander ground powder.
13. Cook for 6 minutes on medium heat.
14. Put the Garam Masala and Paneer in the mixture.
15. Add salt to taste.
16. Let it simmer for 5 minutes on low heat and you are done.
17. Garnish with some cilantro serve hot with a bread of your choice.