I pick up my phone and I dial “mom” just to hear her repeat the recipe once more. I just have to get it right. No other recipe for this will do. None other than my mother’s version of the Indian cottage cheese – “paneer” with bell peppers in a perfect blend of flavours from Indian spices.
Tawa Paneer originally is doused in a lot many spices, whole and ground. It can get a bit too much especially for tiny tummies. Sometimes it even leaves you with heartburn. But not this version, this version is mild and if you skip the red chilli powder the curry actually has a sweet after taste, which kids enjoy.
When I do get her on the phone, she repeats the recipe out patiently after which she says, “that’s it piami, isn’t that easy?” with a giggle.
Believe it or not, in this dish the masala is tastier than the main ingredient Paneer; which usually is the shining factor of any Indian vegetarian dish. You will find yourself diving in for the onions and bell peppers and may even be scraping off the last bit of the masalas from the serving spoon. I know I do (wink wink)
Without further ado let me quickly type down the recipe for you!
Ingredients: (serves 4-5)
- 250gms cottage cheese (diced into large cubes)
- ½ green bell pepper
- ½ red bell pepper
- 1 large red onion
- 1 tbs garlic, paste
- 1 tbs ginger, paste
- 3 tomatoes, pureed roughly
- ¾ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ¾ red chilli powder
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp coriander powder
- pinch of black pepper
- chaat masala (according to taste)
- 1 tbsp ghee
- In a heated flat surface pan, roast the cubes of paneer with just a spray of oil on the surface. Sprinkle some salt and black pepper over the paneer. Roast till you get a little brown on each side. Remove and set aside.
- In the same pan, with another spray of oil, roast the largely diced cube of bell peppers and onions. Remove and set aside.
- In the same pan, add a large tablespoon of ghee. Once hot, add in the ginger garlic paste.
- After a minute, add in the tomato puree. Followed by salt, and all the spices being turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, black pepper and red chilli powder. (Omit the red chilli powder if cooking for little children). Cook until it turns into a deep shade of red and you see oil on the sides of the pan. This should take about 5-7minutes.
- Add in the roasted onions and bell peppers. Mix well.
- Now add in the roasted paneer. Mix again.
- Garnish with a sprinkle of chaat masala. And finely chopped coriander if you like.
- Serve hot with Indian flat bread.