Folks, we are in the period known as “The Nine Days“. Historically it is a time of mourning for the Jewish people, and traditionally many of us do not eat meat. We used this as an opportunity to do a test cook for our upcoming Indian pop up night at Ezras Israel Synagogue. Please join us on Sunday the 29th of July for this culinary adventure. Rachel and I spent pretty much the whole day this past Sunday shopping and cooking. We made a rice dish, an eggplant dish, a paneer (Indian firm cheese), and a lentil dish. Below is the recipe for the paneer dish and Rachel also posted a recipe for the eggplant dish: Baingan Bharta an Indian Eggplant Dip and Cookbook Giveaway
Before we get to the recipe, a tip to all our readers: be sure to check out our cookbook giveaway at the bottom of this post.
Kosher paneer can often be found in Costco, but unfortunately mine did not have it in stock. I ended up finding it at my local Restaurant Depot, in 5 pound blocks. I realize that might be a large amount for most people, as this recipe calls for a third of a pound for 4 servings. Doing some quick math, 5 pounds would make about 60 portions.
Matar Paneer roughly translates to: peas with cheese. I put my own spin on this Indian classic by adding roasted red peppers for some sweetness and color. If you don’t like peas, a common variation on this recipe uses spinach instead of peas. The Paneer cheese I was able to get my hands was extremely firm and does not melt. It also could use some help in the flavor department. In those ways it is very similar to tofu. For those reasons I suggest cutting the paneer in fairly small cubes and marinating it for at least an hour to overcome some of the blandness and soften it up a bit.
A twist on a vegetarian North Indian classic. Great as a main dish or a side. It can be ready in about 15 minutes in case you have a surprise vegetarian guest, using things that can be kept in your freezer and pantry.
- 1/3 lb Paneer Cheese About a cup
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 tsp Whole Cumin Seed
- 1 tsp Fenugreek Leaves
- 2 Cups Crushed Tomatoes
- 3 Cloves Garlic chopped
- 1/2 tsp Ground Turmic
- 1 tsp Ground Coriander
- 1/2 Cup Water
- 1 1/2 Cups Frozen Peas
- 1 Red Bell Pepper
- 1 Pinch Sugar
- Kosher Salt To Taste
- 1 Sliced Green Chile Pepper Jalapeno will work (optional)
- 1 Handful Cilantro
Turn your oven broiler on high and put the red pepper (on a lined sheet pan) in until the skin starts to blister, turning to make make sure you get some color on all sides. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Remove the top and the seeds and slice into strips.
Dice the cheese in to 1/2" cubes and marinate it in 1/2 the crushed tomatoes and the chopped garlic.
Add 1/2 the olive oil to a heavy saute pan and place over high heat. Add the paneer to the hot pan. Cook on each side until it starts to brown, about one minute per side. Remove the cheese from pan to a plate lined with a paper towel.
Turn the heat down to medium and add the rest of the oil to the pan along with cumin seeds and fenugreek. Once the cumin begins to darken, add the water, the rest of the crushed tomatoes, turmeric, and coriander to the pan and simmer for five minutes.
Add the peas, pepper strips, and the optional jalapeno to the pan and saute until they just begin to soften. Season with the salt and sugar.
Turn off the pan and add in the paneer, and mix it into the vegetables. Move to a serving bowl, top with the cilantro, and serve immediately.
We are also running a give away for the next few weeks. Enter for your chance to win a copy of the incredibly popular (and beautiful) new cookbook Millennial Kosher by Chanie Apfelbaum of the excellent blog Busy in Brooklyn. I can honestly say Chanie is one of my favorite kosher food bloggers out there.