bits and pieces

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Homemade Paneer in Sweet Summer Corn and Green Pea Curry

sweet fresh veggies, softly spiced curry, and HOMEMADE
CHEESE. How awesome is life? 

As you may have noticed, I've been cooking a decent amount of Indian food. The reason for this is two fold: 

1. I would like to eat the tastiest food I can while also exercising the least amount but still fitting into my clothes. For me this means eating totally vegetarian while ensuring I'm not eating a baguette per day (as was the case last night). 

2. I went to the Indian Food Centre here in Regina and spent too much money on spices and need to prove to myself that I can in fact use them. 
Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly - Indian food is just fucking awesome. It's just so good. And once you figure out which spices taste like what, you basically just cook an onion, add your spice mix, add vegetables and then you have a meal. It's the best.

This recipe was easy and tasty and let me MAKE MY OWN CHEESE. That's right. I officially homemade cheese. For those of you who don't know - paneer is white, plain, Indian cheese. It's super yummy. While my cheesemaking was only semi-successful - it was still REALLY FUN. I say semi-successful because I think I still need to tweak my paneer a bit. Good paneer is creamy, soft, smooth cheese. It's irresistible. Mine was OK. Not as creamy as I would have liked, and not as soft. But believe you me - I'll try again. Home cheesemaking: just what my figure needed.

Other than the paneer this was bomb diggity. Corn isn't really a common ingredient in Indian cooking, but whatevs bra! I added corn because I had a bunch and wanted to use it. It was awesome. The sweet sweet summery goodness of the corn played really nicely with the fresh peas and HOMEMADE CHEESE. Go forth my minions, and make your own frommage! 

olive oil
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup - 1 cup of PANEER, finely diced. You can also buy paneer at Indian stores if you don't feel like cheesemaking. Or you can omit entirely if you're some sort of monster.
1 cup of peas
1/2 cup of corn
three medium tomatoes, roughly diced
1 tiny little chili (TLC) pepper, finely chopped / a big pinch of red chili flakes if you don't have tiny little chilis living in your freezer like me. But we don't want no scrubs.
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp + 1 more pinch garam masala
1/2 tsp kashmiri chili powder/any chili powder - I just have kashmiri so I can write that and be a jerk
1 cup of milk 
salt and pepper to taste

for the paneer:
4 cups of milk (2% or 3.25% works best)
2-3 tbsp of lemon juice OR 2 tbsp white vinegar

other things you will need:
for the cheesemaking!: 1 pot, 1 mesh strainer, 1 spoon, cheesecloth/cloth that won't leave fuzzies behind, something heavy to put ontop of your paneer to smoosh out the water (I used a big mason jar full of macaroni)
for the curry: 1 wok/big pot/saucier + a stirrin' spoon

  1. Paneer!!! Put your pot of milk on the stove and bring it slowly to a boil (aka do not crank it to high and leave it there. Start at medium and let it gradually heat). Line your strainer with the cloth. Once the milk boiling, turn it down to where you think a simmer would be and add your vinegar OR lemon and start stirring. It will curdle and look disgusting. Keep stirring for 2 minutes or so. It's going to separate into curds + whey. The curds are the gross vomit chunks and the whey is the gross death water. Pour into your cloth lined strainer. Wrap in the cloth and squeeeeeeze! Then leave in the bottom of your strainer (still wrapped) and put something heavy on top. This will push the excess water out. Leave for at least 20 minutes. I've been trying to find something to do with the whey but short of using it in breadmaking and vegetable preservation (which requires a bit of planning) I haven't been able to find any use for it. Suggestions???
  2. STOP! Curry time! Add some olive oil to your wok/saucier and heat. Add the onion and saute for a few minutes until fragrant and translucent. 
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook until they start to get all melt-y and falling apart-y. This is professional chef language, folks. This should take approximately 5-6 minutes. 
  4. Then add your peas + corn + spices! Cook for 2 - 3 minutes if they're fresh/5-6 if they're frozen.
  5. Add your paneer + your milk. Stir to combine everything and cook curry for another 7 - 12 minutes depending on how soft you want your curry. I like mine fairly mushed so I cooked it for probably 9-10 minutes. The paneer softens right up and most of the milk evaporates. Add a tiny pinch of salt and pepper if you like.
  6. Eat over rice with delicious naan. It's like replacement baguette AND it allows you to eat your homemade cheese with your hands. Prettayyy prettaaay good.

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