Monday, August 10, 2015

Curried Peas and Cheese a.k.a Muttar Paneer ( Curry paste instructions included! :)

I ventured to the grocery store the other day, intent on picking up stuff for a very traditional curry, "aloo gobi," or, 'potato & cauliflower,' though wouldn't you believe it- I forgot the cauliflower! 

I'd had it in hand, with everthing else I needed (no shopping cart/not basket), though dropped a tub of sour cream. In cleaning the bit that had made its way to the ground, and having to put everything down, I left the cauliflower behind. 

It didn't even dawn on me til today (2 days later). 

I've been so immersed in designing, that cooking was a side gig over the weekend- and so much so, that eating too, wasn't of much importance as I was fed by creativity. 
In any case, there came a single moment when hunger struck after many hours, and I just started cooking, without knowing what the end result would be. That's precisely when this unplanned and super quick dish came about. 

I went through a paneer making phase last year, and made tons of the stuff, but wanted to try Slovak "tvaroh," or quark. It's basically the same thing as paneer, in my mind, so I went for it. 

I cooked it up lightly beforehand in mustard seeds, cumin, chili & salt. In fact, that wasn't a really necessary step, as the quark didn't hold its shape like traditional paneer cubes. It was more crumbly, so the idea of browning it fell through rather quickly. Never mind, it was but a few minutes, and the result was still fantabulous- no word of a lie. :) 

Also, you're getting two for one here, as I go step by step how to make curry paste -yes finally! I even wrote down everything as I was doing it, and took pictures for those of you, who like me, are visual learners. ;) 

Finished Cheese, (Paneer/Tvaroh/Quark).
-The recipe-
For the Cheese:
1 tbsp Coconut oil 
1/2 spoon cumin seeds 
1/2 tsp mustard seeds 
Pinch of chili flakes 
250g quark/tvaroh/paneer (I'll get a recipe up for you soon ;))
Pinch of salt 
Simply heat the oil in a pan, add the seeds, salt, & chili. Heat until the mustard seeds start to pop. Add cheese- cooking until water is released, and mixture is dry. 

(There may not be any excess water depending on the type of cheese you use- in any case, your cooking it to assimilate the flavors, & sure you could skip this step altogether, & just add the uncooked cheese to peas). 
Set aside. 

**Curry Paste Instructions 
Relative size of Onion/ginger/garlic

2 small onions 
8 cloves of garlic
1"square of ginger 
Handful dried curry leaves 
2 tbsp Ghee
1 tsp mustard seeds 
1 tsp cumin seeds 
1/4 tsp chili flakes 
2 tbsp tomatoe purée (approx 1/2 medium tomato) 
1 Heaping tsp garam masala 
1 cup water 
450g / 1 bag of frozen peas 

Mustard, cumin, tumeric & salt 

1- In a blender, combine onions, garlic & ginger. 

2- heat up ghee, on medium heat. Add mustard, cumin seeds, chili flakes, curry leaves & salt, until mustard seeds start to pop. 

3- Add onion/garlic/ginger purée, and cook for a few mins, adding water, if it starts to dry out. Give it a taste and see what you think at this stage. Remember, we're playing and co-creating :) 

Curry paste pre- tomatoes 
4- Add tomato purée turmeric & garam masala, and again, have a taste. Should be pretty heavenly by now. (Keep adding water, a little at a time, if it's drying out- unless you fancy a dry curry). 

5- Add the peas- no need to defrost, and the extra water will wet the whole curry. Cook time is very little, just until the peas are soft. A couple of minutes. 
Masala in! 
Tomatoes in! 

Peas please :) 
6- last but certainly not least, time to add the cheese. Mix everything & you're done :)) 

**Please note that even though I've given measurements, they are fairly general, and I really encourage you to play with the tastes. The most important thing is that you get the balance between the gharam masala, salt & liquid/cream that you choose to use- (water, coconut milk, yoghurt, sour cream, cream...etc). If you can maintain this balance, you'll win over many hearts, whether you're a beginner or not. :)) 

I didn't even think to make anything along with the curry as I wanted to get back to designing- though surely this dish is well paired with cumin rice or roti/ paratha- whatever you please. 

I may have skipped the rice/ roti, but definitely not a dollop of sour cream! 

I ate it for three meals, and each time it was better and better :)) 

Try it yourself a few times, and if you're really stuck, you can always drop me a line, and I'll personally come round and show you the way, (if you're in the vicinity, or Skype ). :) 

PS- I know it's not the best looking meal in the world, but I assure you, the below curry - made of the things I had on hand- potatoes & cabbage, was another winner. My husband mentioned something about marrying me again  ;)) 

FYI- it was based on the same curry paste used above (just more of everything), and I used sour cream at the very end to make the dish more creamy, as requested by Yurai, and of course, the whole thing was doused with love ;) 

**Play with your food! 

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