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)
- 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
- 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.)
- 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.
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.
- Scrape the paste into the pan and let it cook for about 2-3 mins. You may need to add a little water.
- 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.
- Add tomatoes. Cook for 15-20 mins.
- Taste your sauce. if it is flavorful, it’s ready for the next step.
- Add peas. Cook on medium-low for another 15-20 mins until the peas are soft.
- 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.
- Flip over and cook on the other side too.
- Put on a cutting board and let cool. When cool, chop into 1″ cubes.
- Add paneer to peas when peas are softened.
- Reduce heat to low or a simmer. Simmer for approximately 20 mins (longer is fine–just stir).
- Squirt a little lemon or lime juice (2 tsp max) into the dish. stir. Salt to taste.
- Garnish with cilantro if you wish.
- Eat with chapati or rice. or a wheat tortilla heated up.