South Indian Style Paneer Mattar

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Yesterday was one of those days. Yes one of *those* days. I woke up early, feeling amazing with a big smile on my face, leapt out of bed with a huge bolt of energy and drew back the curtains to see…oh what have we here? Grey skies, rain, a sodden garden and general wetness and dullness…everywhere. I immediately let out a long grunt type noise, that phonetically spelt out, would be something along the lines of UGGHH. My first thought was to jump straight back into bed and stay there. I mean, Wednesday is nearly Friday which is practically the weekend…right?! I spent a few more minutes trying to rationalise the idea but then opened up my reminders app on auto-pilot, and saw my epic “To Do” list staring at me. Grave error – my dreams of returning to a quilty haven shattered in a single click of the Home button. 

Some may call me over dramatic (my other half regularly does) but I’m a huge believer that weather can truly affect your mood. I knew that I needed something to “pick me up”. After a quick visit to the gym, (they say you only start burning fat after 20 minutes of cardio – I thought 21 minutes on the step machine was as a solid time) I decided I would make lunch before I started my day. Cooking generally puts me in a good mood and I figured it would give me something to look forward to!

This brings me to today’s recipe. Have you ever made paneer before? I make it ALL the time. It’s so quick to cook, a good source of protein and super versatile. Paneer Mattar is a dish I cook regularly at home – it’s lovely and comforting. Imagine a creamy and chunky casserole but with a depth of warm spiciness and just a cheeky little kick.  This time round, I decided to “pimp” my usual recipe by giving it a South Indian twist with mustard seeds & curry leaves. Let’s just say my pre-lunch frown was quickly turned upside-down!

If you have never used curry leaves in your cooking before, you must try. They’re beautifully warm and fragrant and bring any dish to life.

Give it a go!

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South Indian Style Paneer Mattar
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 220g paneer, chopped
  2. 5-6 tbsp olive oil
  3. 1 tsp cumin
  4. 1 tsp mustard seeds
  5. handful of curry leaves, washed, dried & roughly chopped
  6. 2" ginger, grated
  7. 2 cloves garlic, peeled & grated
  8. 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  9. 1 1/2 tsp salt or according to taste
  10. 1/2 tsp paprika
  11. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  12. 1 tsp garam masala
  13. 2 tbsp greek yoghurt
  14. 2 plum tomatoes & 2 tbsp tomato juice
  15. 1 cup peas
Instructions
  1. Heat 1-2tbsp oil in a non-stick pan. Once hot, add the cumin seeds. When they begin to splatter, add the paneer and a pinch of salt. Cook for 2-4 minutes or until golden on one side. Turn over the paneer pieces and cook until golden on the other side. Remove paneer from pan.
  2. Add remaining oil to a non stick pan. Once hot, add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. You will see them begin to splatter immediately. At this point, add the ginger, garlic and chilli. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until golden.
  3. Now add the salt, paprika, turmeric powder & garam masala. Add the yoghurt and stir quickly. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the yoghurt blends well with the masala.
  4. Add the tomatoes and juice and mash well into the masala. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Now add the peas and 2 cups of water. Bring to boil. Now add the paneer and cook for further 2 minutes. Check for salt and adjust accordingly. Remove from heat.
  5. Serve with hot chapattis or naan bread!
Notes
  1. You can leave the skin on ginger, before grating - just make sure it's washed and clean. This way you have zero wastage from peeling!
  2. You can sauté the paneer in cumin before hand and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge until you want to use it. This paneer can also be used in salads as a tasty topping!
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

 

Band Gobi Mattar (Spicy Cabbage, Potatoes & Peas)

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This is a great Punjabi recipe that is full of flavour, healthy and easy to cook. Typically eaten with chappatis, this dish goes down a treat with the little ones and adults alike! It’s also a fantastic way of using up vegetable you may have in the fridge.

Band Gobi Mattar (Spicy cabbage, potato & peas)
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 3 tbsp olive oil
  2. 1/2 tsp asafoetida (optional)
  3. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  4. 1 chilli, finely chopped
  5. 1 potato, diced
  6. 1 carrot, diced
  7. 1/4 cup peas
  8. 1 tomato, diced
  9. 2 tsp tomato puree
  10. 1 cup green cabbage, finely sliced
  11. 1 tsp salt
  12. 1/2 tsp paprika
  13. 1/2 tsp garam masala
  14. 1/4 tsp amchur/mango powder (optional)
  15. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  16. Handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in non stick pan. Once hot add asafoetida, cumin and chilli and stir. When they begin to sizzle slightly, add the potatoes, carrots and peas into the pan.
  2. Cook for 3-4 minutes and stir continuously.
  3. Now add the fresh tomato and puree and mix well. Continue to cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
  4. Now add the cabbage and the remaining ingredients. Mix well and place a lid on the pan, stirring every couple of minutes. Cook for a further 5 minutes or until the potatoes or completely cooked (if a knife goes through the potato easily, it's cooked).
  5. Check for salt and adjust accordingly.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

Urad & Chana Dal Masala (Spicy Punjabi Dal)

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Urad & Chana Dal Masala otherwise known as “Maa Chole ki Dal” is one that is commonly relished in Punjabi households. Made from tempering a combination of split urad dal and chana dal (split bengal gram) lentils in a typical Punjabi masala, this dish never fails to satisfy at dinner time! This is a favourite of my Pops, especially when served with red onion, raw mango pickle and fresh hot tandoori chappatis. Creamy in texture and spicy in flavour, it’s not hard to see why it tops his list (well..he doesn’t actually have a list..but if he did, it would!). Check out the recipe below. Comments/tweets are always appreciated!


Serves 4

What we need:
1/2 cup split urad dal lentils
1/2 cup chana dal lentils (aka split bengal gram)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp turmeric powder
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
pinch of asafoetida (hing)
1 onion, finely chopped
2″ ginger, peeled and grated
2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
1 green chilli, finely chopped
2 plum tomatoes plus 3 tbsp juice (from tin)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp paprika
Handful fresh coriander

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How to: 

  • Soak both lentils in water overnight. Wash well and rinse.
  • Add the washed lentils to a pressure cooker. Add approx 4 cups of water, 1 tsp of salt and the turmeric powder. When the first whistle goes, cook for a further 20-25 minutes. (If you do not have a pressure cooker, cook lentils in a pan with approx 5-6 cups of water. Cook them until they are tender and slightly mushy in texture.
  • Heat oil in a non-stick pan. Add the cumin seeds and asafoetida. When the seeds begin to splatter, add the onions. Now add 1 tsp of salt and mix continuously until the onions begin to brown slightly. Once light golden, add the ginger, garlic and chilli. Mix well.
  • Now add the garam masala, paprika and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes at this point and mash them well with a wooden spoon. Continue to mix and cook for 2 minutes.
  • When you begin to see the oil separate from the masala, add the coriander and mix. You are now ready to add the masala to the cooked lentils. Once you have added the masala to the dal, mix well and add approx 1 cup water (or according to how thin/thick you would like your dal to be).
  • Bring to boil on high heat, mixing every 1-2 minutes. Turn off heat. Check for salt and adjust accordingly.
  • Serve with fresh chapatis and salad.

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