The mattar paneer challenge

Yesterday, a friend gave a beautiful dance performance. To help out, friends from our class made the dinner that followed the performance. I volunteered–to make a dish for 80. Now I know lots of aunties do this all the time, and I have made this dish before, but this  quantity was new territory for me. I’ve had 4 dishes on the stove before, too, but not usually double batches of the same recipe! Lastly, I wanted to make it extra good so I combined ideas from various recipes.The best–using a combo of ground and whole spices.

It came with a challenge or two–two of the pots needed some extra special scrubbing attention–didn’t stir effectively enough? And there were a lot of things to stage and prep. Kudos to my husband for cutting 14 cups of onions (which he claims was just 4 onions!).

Mattar Paneer for 4 (which I then multiplied into a crazy amount)

The almost finished product

  • 2 onions
  • 1 T garlic-ginger paste or 2 cloves of garlic and 1.5″ ginger
  • 1 t chilli powder
  • 1 t garam masala (mine is a combo of a cinnamon stick, and one T each of cloves, cumin, corriander, black pepper, cardamom. lots of people do different variants) I toast all of these and then grind them. a recipe here
  • 2 cardamom pods–one ground with the garam masala ingredients and one whole–but out of the pod

    Spices needed

  • 1t coriander seeds
  • 1 t cumin seeds
  • 1 sprinkle hing (asafoedita–sprinkle it into the oil)
  • 1 t turmeric powder
  • 1 dry red chilli–soaked in water
  • 3-4 sundried tomatoes (i had them laying around. soaked in water, too)
  • 14-16  strained tomatoes (i use Pommi strained tomatoes–a little more than half a box)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 lb frozen peas (small bag or 1/2 big bag)
  • a handful of cilantro
  • 2 t lemon or lime juice
  • 1 block of paneer (should you be ambitious, you could make this yourself–a gallon of milk, a lemon or a T of vinegar and some cheese cloth yields you enough for 2 batches–you can freeze half for later. bring the milk to a rolling boil–stirring constantly, and being careful not to let it boil over. Add lemon juice or vinegar. the curd will separate from the whey. put a cheese cloth over a colander. pour out contents. wrap the curds in the cheesecloth with twine. rinse once. hang overnight (put a bowl underneath to catch drippings.)

The method

  1. Chop onions. In a skillet with a touch of olive oil ( you really don’t need much–i actually forgot to use oil and it was fine), sautee onions until they soften and begin to release some water.
  2. Grinding the onions

    Transfer onions into a food processor or blender. Add ginger, garlic, the softened dried chilli and the sun dried tomatoes. grind into a paste–about 2 mins.

  3. Scrape the paste into the pan and let it cook for about 2-3 mins. You may need to add a little water.
  4. scrape the paste to one side. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Add the garam masala, turmeric, and hing, as well as the whole coriander, cumin, and cardamom. Sautee until it releases fragrance.
  5. Add tomatoes. Cook for 15-20 mins.
  6. Taste your sauce. if it is flavorful, it’s ready for the next step.
  7. Add peas. Cook on medium-low for another 15-20 mins until the peas are soft.
  8. Meanwhile, cut your paneer block (if you are using store bought) into half lengthwise. Cook on medium heat on a flat skillet until it begins to brown slightly and soften.
  9. Flip over and cook on the other side too.
  10. Put on a cutting board and let cool. When cool, chop into 1″ cubes.
  11. Add paneer to peas when peas are softened.
  12. Reduce heat to low or a simmer. Simmer for approximately 20 mins (longer is fine–just stir).
  13. Squirt a little lemon or lime juice (2 tsp max) into the dish. stir. Salt to taste.
  14. Garnish with cilantro if you wish.
  15. Eat with chapati or rice. or a wheat tortilla heated up.

 

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About ds331

A lifelong vegetarian. A foodie. Can there be such a thing? Some restauranteurs don't seem to think so...but many of my veggie friends and family have a little something or two to teach them.
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