My gene in me is totally a South Indian,but I prefer to be a true Indian first with all my heart, same thing is applicable for the foodie in me. I love all types of food, be it Indian or international. North Indian food especially the Punjabi cuisine and Mughlai cuisine is very close to my heart. Butter chicken, Dal Makhani, Naan, dal and Mutter Paneer are regular visitors on my table.
Paneer or cottage cheese is hot milk curdled with butter milk or yoghurt, drained separating the whey and liquid and pressed in cloth to get the solid mass. Many don’t connect it with cheese, but almost every Indian is connected with Paneer at some level or the other. This white mass which is creamy and soft is any foodie’s delight.
Paneer, in the cheese world, are classified as direct-acid and heat coagulated cheeses which is different from other cheeses like cheddar or parmesan which are formed by using rennet to coagulate milk into solid. It is believed that the Portugese brought the cheese culture to India.
Paneer is a refined product that was developed in Punjab through knowledge from nomadic pastoralists. In Punjab, paneer is made by splitting hot milk with yogurt or buttermilk. Some people also save lactose-rich whey from a previous paneer batch, letting it sour for a week or so before using it as a splitting agent. The use of fermented dairy to split milk and make paneer is a crucial historical point. Lactic acid and other flavour compounds formed during the souring process also lend a richer dairy flavour. This distinct zest cannot be acquired from using vinegar or lemon juice.
Cheese in every culture exists because it is a form of preserved milk. There is a continuous history of cheese-making throughout Central Asia. Nomadic dairy tribes have been living in these regions for several centuries. Had it not been for fermented and preserved dairy products, their efforts of rearing animals for milk would have been futile. A 2013 article in the respected, peer-reviewed science journal Nature says that farming and cattle-herding started some 11,000 years ago in the Middle East, a time when lactose was toxic to adult humans; people would ferment milk to make it edible.
The Pashtuns make a cheese called kadchgall that is yogurt-based and usually dried for longevity. This is similar to kashk found in Turkic countries as well as parts of Mongolia. These cheeses came from a need to preserve fermented milk by drying it out. While they are not acid-coagulated, their existence explains how knowledge of preservation prevailed in these cultures.(input courtesy:http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/Paneer-and-the-origin-of-cheese-in-India/article14516958.ece).
The whey and paneer are both nutritious and healthy and tastes awesome too. This duo combo perfectly compliment each other in the creamy luscious gravy. I have chosen the simplest way of making this curry. Many versions wherein paneer is fried, all the base masalas are sautéed and then grounded into a fine paste, then cooked is used. I try to keep all the recipes as simple and easy as possible.
I have used fresh paneer for this recipe. No no I haven’t made it at home, but will be soon posting one on how to make a perfect paneer. Green peas is also your option. I went with frozen ones, as I couldn’t get hold of fresh ones. These days I prefer frozen ones as it’s easy to cook. You can also go in for dried ones, but that has to be soaked, cooked and then added to the curry.
Sautéing the onions with whole spices and making it into a purée makes a whole lot of difference to the curry. This tasted similar to the restaurant one, much tastier. I did not add any cashews but instead simply went with some fresh cream which rounded off this curry to a desirable one which will be craved again and again.
Heat a pan with oil. Add the whole spices and caraway/shahjheera. seeds.
Give a quick stir and allow it to splutter.
Add the onions and sauté till it slightly changes color.
Cool and grind to a purée adding little bit of water and keep aside.
In the same pan, add a tablespoon of ghee, add the slit green chilies and give stir.
Then add the GG paste and sauté till aromatic followed by adding the onion paste.
Keep stirring and cooking till you get a nice aroma.
Pop in the spice powders and combine. Cook for another 5-7 minutes.
Make purée with the tomato and add to the curry base along with the tomato paste.
Cook further till everything’s well blended and cooked.
Add the paneer, reduce the flame and simmer till all the spices are absorbed by the paneer and the gravy is thick.
Sauté the green peas in a tsp of ghee for couple minutes .
Add water and mix. Allow it to simmer. Add the green peas.
Cook for few minutes until all the masalas are well blended with paneer and peas.
Add the fenugreek powder and combine.
Finally add the cream and fresh chopped Coriander. Integrate everything and simmer further for 2 minutes in very low flame.
Serve with bread of your choice