450gfirm, unsalted paneerI used 2 x 225g packets of Everest paneer
1/2tspcrushed red chillies
1largeonionsliced thinly into half moons
1-2green chillies, slitoptional
1redpepper/bell pepper/capsicumsliced thinly into strips of about 7 cm x 1 cm
1greenpepper/bell pepper/capsicumsliced thinly into strips of about 7 cm x 1 cm
4tbsppassata or pureed tomatoes
salt & lemon juice to taste
ginger julienne for garnishoptional
chopped coriander leaves for garnish
Cut paneer into fingers about 6 cm x 2 cm x 2 cm. If using supermarket paneer like Everest brand, basically, you need to cut the block into 4 pieces lengthwise and cut across once to give 8 fingers.
Using a pestle & mortar, crush the coriander seeds & cumin seeds to a coarse powder. Combine with kasoori methi and crushed red chillies. Set aside in a small bowl.
This step is completely optional if you're in a hurry, but it will make a huge difference to the texture of the paneer. Bring about 3-4 cups of water to the boil in a large saucepan, add 1 tbsp salt & 1/2 a tsp of turmeric powder. Mix well and turn off the heat. You need it hot for the next step.
In a large, heavy frying pan (I use my cast iron pan), heat 1 tbsp oil and fry the paneer fingers over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to ensure they are a golden brown in places. If you're not following the step above, season with a large pinch of salt & transfer to a plate. If you are following the step above, remove with a slotted spoon and dunk into the hot salted water. Allow to sit while you get on with the rest of the procedure.
Assemble all ingredients close to the hob. Add the remaining 1 tbsp oil to the pan and add the onions. Fry over a high heat until the onion slices are charred in places, then lower heat, add the garlic and stir fry for about 30 - 45 seconds.
Now add the spice mixture, stir well and allow to fry for a few seconds until you can smell them. Do not let your attention wander - they burn easily! Add the passata/pureed tomatoes and fry until all the liquid evaporates.
In the meantime, drain the paneer and dry it well on kitchen towels.
Back to the pan, put in the chillies (if using) and the sliced peppers. Fry over high heat until crisp-tender. You don't want them completely soft here. Add the paneer, mix well, fry for a further minute or two until the pieces are coated with the onion mixture. Turn off the heat, sprinkle a large pinch of salt and a tbsp of lemon juice.
Mix well, taste and adjust the salty and sour flavours to your preference. Serve garnished with ginger julienne (if using) & chopped coriander leaves.
Recipe origins: I don't exactly know where this recipe is from but my Mum has been making it for years. I also remember eating the exact same dish at an Indian restaurant in Dubai many times, so perhaps she just reverse-engineered it.