Paneer is an ingredient common across South Asian cuisine. It has, for instance, played a role in Indian cuisine – notably North Indian – for centuries, despite Indian food being particularly prone to development and change. Mutter Paneer, paneer with peas, is perhaps the best known of all these dishes – especially in the West – and since it’s such a quintessentially Indian ingredient, it seemed offensive to ignore paneer any longer!
Paneer is essentially a fresh curd cheese made using milk, a food acid (usually lemon juice) and salt. Indeed, of all the many cheeses in this world paneer is probably the simplest – for more information on how to make paneer click here… Simple to make it may be, but paneer is also widely available in shops at a cheaper price than other cheeses.
As you might imagine the flavour of paneer isn’t exactly robust; it foregoes any sort of ageing process and contains no rennet. Instead, its firm, meaty consistency and mild taste make it a satisfying and exemplary vehicle for flavour, perfect in this sort of dish. Enjoy!
• 250g paneer, in large cubes
• 2 medium waxy potatoes, cubed
• 100g garden peas
• 1 onion, finely sliced
• 3-4 cardamom pods
• 3-4 pepper corns
• 2 cloves
• 1 tsp mustard seeds
• 1 tsp turmeric
• 1 tsp whole cumin, ground
• 1 tsp garam masala
• ½ tsp salt
• Oil or ghee
1. Heat the cardamom, mustard seeds, pepper corns an cloves in 3 tbsp of oil or ghee. Once you’ve released their fragrance add the onion and cook for 5-10 minutes over a medium heat. Meanwhile, begin to fry your cubes of paneer in a little oil, cook them until golden brown.
2. Add the turmeric and cumin to the onions, followed by a splash of water to create a masala. Add the potatoes and cook with a lid on until soft – you may need to keep adding water.
3. Stir in the peas, garam masala, salt and golden-brown paneer and serve alongside chapatis and yoghurt.
Cost: As mentioned above, paneer is a relatively inexpensive ingredient. As such, this vegetarian option is a filling and cheap alternative to something like a chicken curry. Indeed, the entire dish should set you back no more than £2.50.