Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Matar Paneer

Getting a beautiful color for the gravy is a challenge that most beginners face in the kitchen. In a bid to achieve that color, most people end up adding so many spices that eventually ruins the taste, though it might look the way they wanted it to be. This is a situation that I have faced many times in the past when I had just started off in the kitchen. The key to tasty and beautiful dishes, as I have learnt it, does not lie in the recipe. It lies within you and your patience to go through the crucial stages of cooking any dish. My paneer dishes have always lacked the color and consistency that I see in dishes prepared with the same recipe. I used to wonder the reason for the difference until recently when I realized where I was going wrong. Bhunoing (as it is called in Hindi) or frying the masalas until they leave a fragrant aroma and oil separating from the sides (you do not need to put extra oil to get that effect) is what gives Indian curries the look and taste as it should be. 

200 gms paneer
2 medium onions, chopped
1 inch piece ginger, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 medium potato, diced (optional; I added since my husband loves it)
1/3 cup green peas
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Fresh coriander leaves and green chillies for garnishing
1 tbsp mustard oil ( or refined oil)
Heat oil in a pan. Fry the paneer cubes until golden brown and keep aside. If the paneer pieces are not very tender, you can keep them immersed in warm water until used. 
In a grinder, put the onion, ginger, and garlic and grind to a coarse paste without adding any water. In the same oil where you fried the paneer pieces, add this paste and fry till the onions get translucent and golden in color. Now add the tomato puree and fry on a medium flame till oil starts appearing on the sides. If the paste gets too dry, you can sprinkle some water from the immersed paneer pieces or regular water. Add the dry spices except the salt and sugar and continue stirring until the masalas get mixed well and no raw smell is left. Now add the potato pieces and stir. Add 1/2 cup of warm water (or the water from the immersed paneer pieces) and cover cook on medium flame till the potato is cooked. Next add the green peas and the paneer pieces. Put in salt and sugar and mix. Cover cook for another 3-5 minutes adding additional water if required. Garnish with chopped coriander and slit green chillies and serve hot with roti/rice/pulao.

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