For the love of paneer

When willy and I started dating, I had never tasted Indian food. I thought curry was that powder that you bought in a jar at the grocery store, and I had no idea what roti, dosas, pakoras, paneer, or a host of other tasty treats were. Oh how things have changed! When we let the lils know that we were going on an adventure to India, Woo’s eyes lit up and he asked me in his serious voice, “does this mean we can eat paneer EVERY DAY?” While it is now a staple in our diet, both here and back home, I should not be surprised that so many people back home don’t know what it is. I am though. How can they be missing out on this tasty treat?!

Simply put, paneer is the Indian version of cottage cheese. It is firmer than Canadian cottage cheese, and not at all sour tasting. While you can easily make it at home by souring hot milk and pressing the curd into a brick, draining the excess whey, it is readily available in Indian grocery stores and now Loblaws back home, and everywhere here. I did make it once, and I now know that I will buy it for the rest of my life.

Paneer is a very versitile food. Since we have been here, we have had it prepared in a multitude of ways. In curries, like mattar (in tomato gravy* with peas), palak (spinach gravy), Makhani (butter and masala gravy); in pakoras and samosas; baked in paratha bread; grilled in a tandoor; in wraps; on pizza; and in lasagne (I made this one, not sure it is available locally). McDonald’s even sell a McPaneer! There are also sweet presentations as well, tho I have not tried them.

My favourite way to eat paneer is mattar paneer, which I made tonight for supper. It takes me a while, but the end result is guaranteed to please us all, so it is worth it.

I fry the paneer til it is just slightly golden



Add it to some veggies and spices



And voila!



It is delicious with some other local specialities…



Lilbunnyrabbitz mattar paneer
I can’t tell you how long this takes me to make, the lils are always distracting me. About 90 minutes :)

1 lb paneer

Curry paste
2 large onions, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 dried chillies (I omit these if the lils are eating)
1 tsp cardamon seeds (removed from green pods)
4 whole cloves
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 pieces cassia bark (cinnamon also works)

8-12 plum tomatoes, skinned and chopped
10 oz tomato paste
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp tumeric
1.5 cups frozen peas
2-3 tablespoons thick plain yogurt
Cilantro leaves (to garnish)

Cut paneer into cubes. Heat a fryin pan with 1 tbsp of vegetable oil and lightly fry cubes. Pat down and set aside.

Make paste. Combine all ingredients BUT the onion in a morter and pestle and grind. Add onion at the end and lightly grind and mix with the spices.

In a large saucepan, cook the paste over medium heat until onions are transparent (about 5 minutes). Add tomatoes and bring to a boil until juice is reduced. Add tomato paste and spices and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add the peas and continue simmering.

About 15 minutes before you want to serve, add the yogurt, stirring well, then add the paneer.

Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice or naan, or both!

*gravy is what sauce is referred to in Indian cuisine

Category: cooking, India, Photography | 6 comments

  • Sasha says:

    Yum!!! I was so excited when I discovered paneer at the Indian grocery across the street – just a month ago!! I love it, but had never tried cooking with it before. Looking forward to hearing more about your culinary adventures!

  • Lynn says:

    My mother-in-law makes this and it is yuuuuuummy. I had no idea paneer was so readily available. I might give it a try!

  • smothermother says:

    while i’ve voiced my dislike of paneer to you already, i do love a good mattar sauce. thanks for the recipe.

    just the mention of pokoras made my mouth water. have you had utapam (sp?) yet? one of my favs. and potato porotas. man, i miss good indian food!! :)

  • Brie says:

    Looks good! I haven’t bought it at the grocery store, ours doesn’t have it, but I will have to track it down.

  • Neeroc says:

    Well now I freaking want roti!

  • allison says:

    McPaneer! I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am – and delighted.

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>