Oh paneer how I love thee! Paneer is a homemade Indian cheese from North India. I've made it only twice, but usually I'll buy a brick of it at the Indian store. It's good to have in the freezer and you can throw it in almost anything. I'd say the consistency is like a really firm tofu and most resembles a tangy ricotta cheese in taste. When I was younger if we had a paneer curry, I would save the paneers for last. That's when you know you really love stuff - hence this paneer glamour shot:
no idea why it got all glammy but makes me laugh.
For this curry, I marinated the paneer with yogurt and a tandoori paste I got from the Indian store and fried it up with some peppers and onions. Tandoori paste is made from ginger, garlic, tamarind and spices and is usually used to marinate chicken that is cooked in a tandoor or clay oven. This paste is especially good for vegetarians at a barbecue because you can use it for marinating tofu or vegetables for grilling instead of eating a boring veggie burger:(
On Tuesday, my friend Sabra had a clothing swap potluck and I brought this curry. It's very versatile because you can have it as an appetizer with chutneys, rolled in a roti or tortilla or even on pizza. Sabes made a roasted red pepper soup and we were mixing a few spoons of the curry into that, which was quite tasty.
Oh and I love this tupperware. It's from the 70's and my mom said she bought it from my cousin Srini when he was in grade school. I guess kids sold tupperware instead of overpriced candy bars to raise money back in the day.
14 oz. block fresh frozen paneer, thawed out and cut into 1 in. cubes (Nanak brand is good)
4 tablespoons Patak Tandoori Paste (mild)
3 tablespoons yogurt
3 tablespoons oil
1/2 large red pepper, large chop
1/2 large green pepper, large chop
small red onion, large chop
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
pinch of hing (asfeotida)
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/3 teaspoon turmeric
red chili powder to taste
salt to taste
juice from 1/3 of a lemon
Put out paneer block to thaw (you can also defrost in the microwave, but make sure not to make it too soft, it starts to fall apart easily). In a bowl, mix the tandoori paste and yogurt well to make the marinade. Cut the paneer and put into a baking dish. Carefully coat all of the paneers with the marinade and put in the fridge for about 3 hours (I didn't have this much time so mine were marinating for about an hour).
In a non-stick fry pan under medium-high heat, warm 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil. When hot, put in pinch of hing and cumin seeds. Shake up the pan. Once the cumin seeds start to brown, put in the onions. Fry until they become translucent. Put in the coriander powder, turmeric, chili powder and some salt. Mix well. If it is a bit dry, you can add little oil. Then throw in the peppers and mix well. Cook until the peppers are a bit soft, but not too soft. Turn off heat and place in a dish to the side.
In same fry pan*, place 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil under medium heat. When hot, carefully place the paneer pieces into the pan. (There may be some sputtering from the marinade so be careful.) Watching closely, fry the paneers until they start to lightly brown and turn them so at least two sides are browned with marinade (mine are a bit darker in the photos because I like it cooked more:) Try not to mix it too much because the paneers will break. Make sure not to cook it too much because it will get rubbery. *If you don't want to fry, you can grill the paneers or bake them in an oven until they start to brown.
Mix them up carefully with the peppers and onions so they don't break. Ideally, lay the curry out on a flat dish and squeeze lemon on top just before serving (or in my case put the lemon in and shake up the tupperware!)