One of the most sought after Indian vegetarian dish is on the menu today.
Kadhai Paneer is an exotic recipe of stir frying cottage cheese with the combination of fresh vegetables, Indian aromatics and spices.
Before I got married, this was a regular on the menu at lunch. I was quite hesitant to make this for my husband, Avi because of his dislike towards the large chillies; the bell peppers. But being a mother and having all the motherly instincts of wanting her child to eat healthy, I gave it a go and to my surprise, him and the children, not only loved it but also asked for it again later on. Hooray to my victory in an unintended struggle!
This is a dish full of texture unlike any other popular paneer curries. The textures in here are from the cumin seeds, coriander seeds as well as the crunchy vegetables.
While I love the flavours from these aromatics, I do have a problem with the tiny bits in my mouth and as a child I created a fuss each time. To avoid all of that, my mother would grind all spices and I carried this on with my cooking. Trust me, it may sound unconventional but the flavours are just as authentic.
If you have been following my blog, you would know my methods by now. For those who have just joined us, below mentioned is first the non-spicy version of this recipe and if you scroll further down you will find the method of how to get the right flavours to satiate your love for spices. This is my means to making one dish to suit all, to save us mothers some more time and to encourage the same diet plan for the entire family. For toddlers, remember to chop the vegetables really small.
Ingredients: (serves 3-4)
• 1 tsp crushed ginger
• 1 tsp cumin
• 1 tsp black peppercorns
• 2 tsp coriander seeds
• 3 dried red chilli
• 5 tomatoes (pureed)
• 1 big white onion
• 2 green peppers (capsicum)
• 1 cup fresh paneer (cut into cubes)
• ¼ cup water (Adjust the amount of water as according to your preference but remember in it’s authentic state, this is a dry curry).
• 1 tbsp ghee (or any cooking oil of your choice)
• 1 cup oil (I used coconut oil for frying)
• salt & black pepper according to taste
• ¼ tsp turmeric powder
• ½ tsp cumin powder
1. On low heat roast cumin, black peppercorns, coriander seeds and dried chilli together in a wide sauté pan, until fragrant.
2. Turn off heat. Set aside to cool. Then grind the spices to a powder in a small food processor.
3. Heat oil in a frying pan, once hot fry paneer in batches until golden brown.
4. Scoop out the fried paneer with a slotted spoon and lay out on a prepared kitchen sheet.
5. In a hard bottom pan, add ghee and sauté the garlic for a minute.
6. If you are fond of texture in your dish, here is where you can add an additional teaspoon of cumin seeds. Let it crackle for a minute. (I skipped this step).
7. Throw in the bell pepper and onions and cook this for 3 minutes. (The cooking time depends on how soft or crisp do you like your vegetables. In my case, I am cooking for 2 little boys and so I make them quite soft)
8. Add in the tomato puree (leave about 1/3 cup of puree out for later use).
9. After 3 more minutes, season your curry with salt, black pepper, cumin powder (skip this if you have added the seeds in step 6) and turmeric powder. Mix well. Let it cook for another 2minutes.
10. Add water, only if the curry is too dry.
11. Add in the fried paneer. Give it a gentle stir and simmer for another minute or two.
12. Turn of heat. Garnish with some fresh coriander and serve along side some Indian bread. (This is ready for your child or any body who dislikes spicy food).
The version I mentioned up here is not as spiced up as most adult, or I would like. So here is what you can do to get the original kadhai paneer zing !
13. After step 11, remove the curry onto a bowl and set aside.
14. In the same pan, add the remaining tomato puree.
15. Once hot, add in 1 tablespoon of the spice powder you prepared in step1. Mix well.
16. Pour back the paneer curry from the bowl. Mix gently to avoid breaking the paneer.
17. Serve along side pickled onions, green chillies and Indian flat bread.