Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mattar Panir (Paneer) Cheese and Peas from India

Cheese and Peas

Indian Mattar Panir

My Favorite Vegetarian Dish

Can be Vegan using Tofu, pressed, cubed and sautéed.  We called "Give Peas a Chance" on the specials board at the Café.

For the Cheese:
Heat to scalding:
2 quarts whole Milk
1/2 cup Yogurt
When bubbles form around the edge, add:
3 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
Turn off the heat.  The mixture should curdle.  Line a colander with cheesecloth and pour the curds and whey through. Reserve the whey. Bring up the ends of the cheesecloth around the curds and press into a ball.  Weigh down for 8 hours between two boards topped with a heavy cast iron skillet, or some item of equal heaviness.
Remove cheese from cloth and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

For the dish:
Sauté until golden brown on all sides:
3 Tbsp. Ghee
the Cheese cubes
Sauté for 1-2 minutes and remove from pan:
3 Tbsp. Ghee (clarified butter)
2 Tbsp. Ginger, grated
1 Tbsp. Garlic, minced
Sauté until translucent:
1 cup Onions, sliced thinly
Add and sauté for 2-3 minutes:
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Turmeric, ground
1/4 tsp. Cayenne
1 tsp. Coriander
1 Tbsp. Garam Masala
Add and cook for 3 minutes:
2 cup fresh Tomatoes, finely chopped
the reserved Ginger and Garlic
Add and cook for another 3 minutes:
1 1/2 cups Peas, shelled (frozen peas are fine!)
1 tsp. Sugar
3 Tbsp. Cilantro
the sautéed Cheese Cubes
1 cup of reserved Whey
Serve over steamed Basmati Rice with a garnish of fresh Cilantro Sprigs and crisp Pappadums.

Garam Masala

Garam Masala is a toasted blend of spices used frequently in Indian cooking instead of the ubiquitous Curry Powder.  It can now be purchased in the spice section of many Natural Foods stores, but it is easy and fun to make your own, and the results are astronomically better.  I often halve this and store it in a glass jar.  It keeps for quite awhile.

Roast together in one layer, at 200 degrees, for 30 minutes.  Cool and grind in a spice or coffee grinder.

5     3" Cinnamon sticks
10 Cardamom Pods, whole
1/2 Cup Cloves, whole
1/2-Cup Cumin Seeds, whole
1/4-Cup Coriander Seeds, whole
1/2 Cup Peppercorns, whole

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