While the competent culinarian definitely has what it takes to create lowfat, highly nutritious everyday meals, even furbishing a bland block of tofu with the aid of potent spices from her pantry if she so pleases, it is to the coddling pot of whole milk that she turns, when she thinks of the family that usually hankers after a special Friday dinner. Squeezing lime juice in it and watching the curdling mass of cream separate from the whey gives her a high. Resting a heavy, flat-bottomed pan on the conscientiously strained, rich slab swathed in the cheesecloth, she lines up a quick order of spices and staples like onions, ginger-garlic paste, tomatoes.
She then fetches the jar of roasted red peppers – just what she needs to add zing to and spiff up the conventional curry preparation that has been around for years, and consumed with the accompaniment of the customary tongue-clack, suggestive, as it were, of lassitude. It’s not until the kids, while still fighting over the last bits of naan to scoop up the traces of the bright and peppy dish, look in her direction and burst into uncontrollable giggles that she realizes she’s sporting a red pepper curry moustache. Wiping it with the cuff of her sweatshirt, she joins in the fight, the satiny feel of the paneer teasing her tastebuds..and the warmth of the adulation from her adoring little fans filling her with a bigger sense of satiation.
Paneer in Roasted Red Pepper Curry
- 12 cashews
- 1¼ Cup milk, divided
- 2 Cups cubed paneer
- 2 Red bell peppers/capsicum or 1 jar of roasted red peppers
- 1 Tablespoon oil
- 1 Cinnamon stick
- 3-4 Cloves
- 2 Green cardamoms
- ¼ Teaspoon methi seeds
- 1 Bay leaf
- 2 Onions, minced (about 1.5 Cups)
- 1 Tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
- 1 Teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ Teaspoon red chilli powder
- 1 Teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves/Kasuri Methi, crushed
- 1 Tomato, pureed
- Salt to taste
Warm ¼ cup milk and soak the cashews in it. Also soak the paneer in hot water to soften it.
To roast your own peppers, char their skin all over on an open flame. Or you could place them on a foil-lined tray and broil, turning a couple of times until the skin is blackened. Place the peppers in a bowl and cover tightly. Set aside for a few minutes. Peel and discard the skin, stem and seeds. If there is some juice, you can strain and use it along with the flesh of the peppers.
To make the curry, warm the oil in a large saucepan or kadhai and add the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, methi seeds and bay leaf. Toast the spices until the cinnamon unfurls. Add the minced onion and ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes until the onion is soft and golden. Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry it for a couple of minutes. Stir in the chilli and coriander powders and crushed kasuri methi. Let the spices toast for a few seconds and then add the tomato. Fry until the masala dries up and the oil separates.
Puree the peppers along with the soaked cashews. Add the puree to the masala in the saucepan . Pour in enough milk to bring the curry to the desired consistency. Drain the hot water from paneer pieces and add them to the curry. Mix everything together and simmer for a couple of minutes. Serve hot with plain or garlic naans.