2.13.13 Love Apple Curry
Tomato Curry with Paneer
serves 6 (recipe can easily be halved or doubled)
- — 3 1/2 cups crushed canned tomatoes
- — 1 pound paneer (fresh or store-bought)
- — 2/3 cup ghee, peanut or safflower oil, or raw sesame oil for frying
- — 1/2 cup minced garlic, or mashed to a paste
- — 3 tablespoons minced ginger
- — 3 cups diced onion
- — 3-4 cups water
- — 2 tablespoons minced, seeded green cayenne chiles
- — 3 brown cardamom pods, or 5 green cardamom pods, smashed
- — 2 whole cloves (optional)
- — 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- — 1 teaspoon pimentón, or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- — sea salt, to taste
Slice the paneer into small rectangles (slightly larger than bite size) and set aside. Fill a wide, heavy skillet with a little more than 1/4" of ghee or oil. Heat over medium-high, then add paneer slices in a single layer. Don't crowd, and brown in batches if necessary. Cook, turning once, until golden on both sides, 4-5 minutes per batch. Lift out, letting the oil drain off, and place on a plate.
Measure out 1/3 cup ghee or oil from the pan and pour into a large, heavy-bottomed nonreactive saucepan (your Le Creuset is good here), reserving the remaining ghee or oil for another use. Heat over medium-high, then add garlic and ginger, lower the heat to medium and stir-fry for a minute or so. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft and pale gold but not browned, about 10-12 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and stir them in, then add 3 cups of water. The mixture should be quite liquid. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the green chile, cardamom, cloves, if using, turmeric, pimentón and cayenne. Lower the heat to maintain a steady simmer, and cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. You may need to lower the heat a little more partway through the cooking as the mixture thickens and/or add a bit more water, as needed.
Add the paneer to the sauce and simmer for another 45 minutes. Taste and add salt.
Serve as a main dish with plenty of rice (I like brown basmati), and a stir-fry of greens in coconut oil.
Paneer (Fresh Cheese)
- — 1 gallon (16 cups) whole milk
- — 7-8 tablespoons lemon juice
Heat milk in a large pot over medium-high flame, stirring occasionally. (If you rinse the pot with cold water first, it helps prevent sticking.) Just before the boiling point (milk will start to steam), turn off the heat. One tablespoon at a time, stir in the lemon juice. Keep slowly stirring for several minutes as the curds separate from the whey and bob to the surface.
Place a large colander in the sink and line it with a double layer of cheesecloth or a large, clean gauzy dish towel (like a flour sacking towel). Pour the separated milk into the colander, letting the whey drain into a bowl so you can use it for something else. Rinse the curds with cold water to remove the taste of lemon. Let it rest in the sink for a few minutes to drain out liquid, then gather the edges of the cheesecloth and create a compact bundle, pressing the curds into a ball. I like to tie a piece of kitchen twine around the neck of this and hang it over the sink to drain out as much liquid as possible (see above). Place a bowl underneath so you can save the whey. If this sink arrangement isn't convenient for you, you can suspend it anywhere over a bowl.
After 3-4 hours of hanging/drainage, take the curds out and divide them into two balls. Flatten and mold these into two 4"x4" squares with your hands and wrap them separately in cheesecloth. Stack them on top of each other on a baking sheet and find a heavy pot lid or can to weight them down. Let them drain for another 3-4 hours, pouring off (and saving) any whey that drains onto the baking sheet. At this point, the paneer will be a firm, dry cake that is ready to eat. You can also wrap it in saran and refrigerate for up to a week.