Pea curry with Indian paneer

Pea curry with Indian paneer


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About this recipe: Paneer is an Indian cheese, similar to ricotta but drier. It's often combined with peas in a curry. This delicious version uses home-made paneer, which is simple to make. Serve with basmati rice for a well-balanced meal.

Azmina Govindji

Serves: 4 

  • Paneer
  • 2.3 litres (4 pints) whole milk
  • 6 tbsp lemon juice
  • Pea and tomato curry
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed or vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 5 cm (2 in) piece fresh root ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 fresh green chilli, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds, crushed
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 450 g (1 lb) firm tomatoes, quartered
  • 340 g (12 oz) frozen peas
  • 85 g (3 oz) spinach leaves
  • 15 g (½ oz) fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • salt

Prep:4hr  ›  Cook:20min  ›  Ready in:4hr20min 

  1. First make the paneer. Heat the milk in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low and add the lemon juice. Stir for 1–2 minutes or until the milk separates into curds and whey. Remove the pan from the heat.
  2. Line a large sieve or colander with muslin, or a clean, tight-knit dishcloth, and set over a large bowl. Pour in the milk mixture. Leave to drain for 15 minutes or until cool.
  3. Bring together the corners of the muslin or cloth to make a bundle containing the drained curds. Squeeze them, then leave to drain for a further 30 minutes or until all the whey has dripped though the sieve into the bowl. Reserve 240 ml (8 fl oz) of the whey.
  4. Keeping the curds wrapped in the muslin or cloth, place on a board. Set another board on top and press down to flatten the ball shape into an oblong block. Place cans or weights on top and leave in a cool place for about 3 hours or until firm.
  5. Carefully peel off the muslin and cut the cheese into squares about 2 cm (3⁄4 in). Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and cook the paneer for 1–2 minutes on each side or until golden. As the pieces are browned, remove from the pan with a draining spoon and set aside.
  6. For the curry, heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil in the pan. Add the onion and cook gently for 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in the garlic and ginger, and cook gently for 1 minute, then stir in the chilli, coriander and cumin seeds, turmeric and garam masala. Cook for 1 more minute, stirring constantly. (Add a little hot water if the mixture begins to stick.)
  7. Add the tomatoes, the reserved whey and a pinch of salt, and stir well to mix. Cover and cook gently for 5 minutes.
  8. Add the peas and bring back to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover again and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the spinach, stirring it in gently so as not to break up the tomatoes too much. Simmer for 3–4 minutes or until the spinach has just wilted and the peas are hot and tender.
  9. Stir in most of the chopped fresh coriander, then transfer the curry to a serving dish and scatter the paneer on top. Spoon the curry gently over the paneer to warm it, then sprinkle with the rest of the coriander and serve.

Each serving provides

Excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E. Good source of calcium, folate, niacin, vitamin B1, vitamin B12, zinc. Useful source of copper, iron, potassium, vitamin B2, vitamin B6.

Some more ideas

For a cottage cheese and vegetable curry, which is similar but much quicker to make, cook 600 g (1 lb 5 oz) peeled potatoes, cut into large chunks, in a large pan of boiling water for 5 minutes. Add 400 g (14 oz) cauliflower florets and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add 200 g (7 oz) halved fine green beans and cook for a further 3–4 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender. Meanwhile, place 350 g (12½ oz) cottage cheese in a sieve and leave to drain. Cook the onion and spices as in step 6 of the main recipe, then add 300 ml (10 fl oz) vegetable stock and cook gently for a further 5 minutes. Add the drained potatoes, cauliflower and beans to the spiced sauce and stir to coat. Season with salt to taste. Fold in the cottage cheese and heat through gently. Serve hot, with wholewheat parathas or naan bread.

Plus point

This home-made paneer is lower in fat than bought paneer and very nutritious, providing protein, calcium and vitamins, including vitamins A and D.

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