I didn't really think about dinner last night until moments before I went to the grocery store. My new sous chef had something to say about that and with the touch of a button I had a recipe, a game plan and a grocery list. For last night's dinner inspiration I used the Jamie Oliver 20 minute meals application on my ipod touch to execute a paneer, potato and pea curry.
I followed his suggestions, bought his recommended ingredients and didn't deviate too much from the plan, however the grocery store I went to did not have paneer. No worries I made my own- taking the recipe from 20 minutes to two hours + while the whey drained and the cheese firmed up. Several hours before dinner I made my paneer and then pre-made most of the curry minus the paneer. Browning and adding the paneer as the rice cooked at dinner time.
This recipe was so simple and the flavour good, it got me thinking how can I make it better? The nice thing about many of Jamie Oliver's recipes is that he tries to teach you how to cook and his app is no different. With that in mind I set out to tailor it to my taste. He suggests using a mild korma* curry paste, that has nice simple flavour but for me lacked that distinct punch and complexity that I have come to expect from curries.
Without further explanation here is my Paneer, Potato and Pea Korma Curry for 2
- 1 litre of whole milk
- a generous pinch of sugar
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- one perforated container big enough to hold your cheese about 250 ml.
- another larger container filled with water to weigh the cheese down.
- or your own devised drainage method, plates and cheese cloth work too.
At least an hour before you are to use the paneer (more time is better), in a heavy bottomed sauce pan pour in a small amount of water and pour in milk and add sugar. Heat on a medium high heat. Stir constantly to prevent scalding to the bottom. When the milk begins to froth and starts to move up the sauce pan pour in vinegar and remove from the heat. Put a lid on and rest for 10 minutes. Set up your draining containers.
Ladle the raft of cheese leaving the whey behind into the perforated container, position second container with water on top of the cheese making sure it has a clean bottom and let drain for an an hour or more. I set mine up off of a bowl.
- half of a red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- small bunch of cilantro, chopped leaves for garnish and save stems
- 2 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
- thumb size peeled ginger
- neutral oil or ghee
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 tsp ground tumeric
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 tsp korma curry paste
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 medium potato peeled and cut into bite size cubes
- 1/4 cup of frozen peas
- 1 cup basmati rice, rinse and well drained
- 1/4 diced white onion
- pinch of cumin seeds
- pinch of salt
- 4 cups of hot water on hand (doesn't have to be boiling)
- plain yoghurt to garnish
- lemon wedges to garnish
Prepare all ingredients before making rice.
For rice use a medium sized sauce pan, add 1 1/2 tbsp of oil and heat to medium, add white onion, and pinch of cumin seeds. Stir and cook for about a minute just until you can smell the cumin seeds. Add rice (make sure it is fairly dry or it will stick to the bottom of your pot), cook about another 30 seconds/ 1 minute more until the rice it slightly oiled. Add 1 1/2 cups of hot water, pinch of salt. Turn up heat to high bring and to a boil. Once at the boil reduce heat to lowest setting on the element. Cover with a lid, leaving a small sliver for steam to escape for nearly 30 seconds and then completely cover. Set timer for 18 minutes.
The fun part, the curry. Put prepared onion, garlic, ginger, and cilantro stems in a blender pulse, and then slowly add a small amount of water to form a thick paste. Using a heavy skillet, heat another 2 tbsp of oil or ghee on a medium heat and add paste. Cook until it bubbles and some of the water is evaporated out. Stirring and working so that nothing sticks to the pan. Add all of your remaining seasonings and curry paste and combine well. Add potato and 2 cups of water. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes to cook potatoes.
While potato is cooking, prepare paneer either in cubes or as a one inch slab. In a non-stick fry pan with a little bit of oil or ghee to lightly coat, fry paneer to get some colour and warm through.
Just before serving add peas to the curry. Put some rice in two shallow bowls, cover with half of the curry each, add paneer, garnish with cilantro leaves place a spoonful of yoghurt and a lemon wedge on the side and enjoy! Recipe is easily doubled.
This version is more intensely spiced and has a heat not suitable for most three year olds. Mine still love the rice, flavoured with cumin and onion and have a side of peas, paneer and plain yoghurt.
*According to Julie Sahni in 'Classic Indian Cooking' Korma is a Moghul method of braising mostly choice cuts of meats and some vegetables using a subtle spice mixture and cream.