I distinctly remember my first encounter with paneer in the form of paneer tikka masala at House of Curries on College Ave in Berkeley. One of my vegetarian friends had ordered it and, when I inquired what it was, she authoritatively told me it was a kind of cheese. I nodded and remained supremely confident in my order of lamb biryani, imagining her receiving a disappointing order of orange substance that looked suspiciously like molten nacho cheese. I was surprised to instead discover these robust, small cubes of white cheese swimming in a savory sauce. I stared, waiting patiently for the cheese to begin to melt. Suffice it to say, that never happened. My friend graciously offered to let me sample a cube, and I have been a convert ever since.
- Paneer (stay tuned for a DIY recipe) 1 block, cubed
- Vegetable oil 3 tbsp
- Onions 2, chopped
- Garlic 2 cloves, crushed
- Gingerroot 1 inch, mashed
- Garam Masala* 2 tsp
- Tumeric 3 tsp, ground
- Chili powder 3 tsp
- Peas 2.5 cups, frozen
- Tomatoes 3, peeled and chopped
- Veggie stock 1/2 cup
- Cilantro 2 tbsp, chopped
- Salt & Pepper To taste
- Heat oil in large skillet.
- Add paneer cubes and cook until golden on all sides. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels.
- Pour off some of the oil, leaving around 2 tbsp.
- Add onions, garlic, ginger to pan and stir for 5 minutes.
- Add in spices and stir for additional 2 minutes. This mixture should release amazing aromas.
- Add paneer, peas, tomatoes, and stock. Stir to coat all ingredients with the spices. Season with salt and pepper. Let simmer until onion is soft. Be sure not to overcook the peas (we want to retain that vibrant green color).
- Top with chopped cilantro and enjoy!
*Garam masala is a spice mixture that usually contains, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, cumin, cardamom, etc. This spice mix varies from region to region but can also vary from household to household. Thus, yo mamma’s garam masala may taste nothing like my mama’s garam masala even if we’re from the same neighborhood. If you are a bit uneasy making up your own mix, you can buy some garam masala at the supermarket or you can find recipes online.