How to cook… Butter Paneer


Serves 4 as a main dish

Paneer works excellently with this creamy, buttery and super moreish sauce. Fry the paneer chunks first so they are crispy on the outside and enjoy the rich sauce. The dish will be much better if you make your own paneer.

What you need…
• 1 teaspoon ghee
• 800g paneer, cubed
• 150g unsalted butter
• 2 onions, finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon garlic paste
• 1 teaspoon ginger paste
• salt to taste
• 6 fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon sugar (optional, if you like it sweet)
• 150ml cream
• coriander leaves for garnish

Spice Mix
• 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
• 1 teaspoon ground coriander
• 1 teaspoon garam masala
• 1 teaspoon cumin powder

How to make it
1. Heat 1 Tablespoon ghee in pan to a low-medium heat. Add the paneer cubes and fry until they brown. This should take about 3–4 minute. Remove from the pan and set aside.
2. Heat 100g of the butter on a low-medium heat until melted, add the onion and cook until it starts to brown (about 4–5 minutes).
3. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute.
4. Add in the Spice Mix, salt and the chillies, stir well and cook for 1 minute.
5. Add the tomatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes, then add 250ml water and cook for a further 2–3 minutes.
6. Transfer the ingredients to a blender (or use a hand blender) until smooth.
7. Return to pan and reheat for a couple of minutes. You can now add in the optional sugar.
8. Add the paneer, cream, the other 50g of butter and and cook on a low-medium heat until everything is warmed through.
9. Serve garnished with the coriander leaves. The dish also looks good with a small swirl of cream and/or tiny knob of butter in the middle of the dish (it will melt quickly).

When you remove the paneer chunks and move on to stage 2 you do not need wipe out the remaining ghee. It’ll stop the butter burning and what’s a bit more oil between friends when it comes to such a rich dish?
The crispy paneer chunks are excellently complimented by the creamy sauce.

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What cheese do cyclists take on holiday? … A paneer.

How to cook… Sag Paneer


Serves 4 as a side dish

Sag Paneer is an excellent side dish, with the crispiness of the pre-fried cheese – especially if you make your own paneer – beautifully complemented by with the wilted, bright green spinach leaves. The addition of the red chilli can add a nice kick as well as a lovely splash of colour.

What you need…
• 2 Tablespoons ghee
• 200g paneer, cut into chunks about 2-3 cm square
• 0.5 teaspoon cumin seeds
• 2 teaspoons garlic paste
• 1 teaspoons ginger paste
• 200g Base Curry Sauce
• 1 red chilli, finely chopped (optional)
• 0.5 teaspoon salt
• small handful coriander leaves, chopped
• 200g spinach (fresh or frozen), chopped

Spice Mix
• 1 teaspoon turmeric
• 1 teaspoon chilli powder
• 1 teaspoon garam masala
• 1 teaspoon coriander powder

How to make it
1. Heat 1 Tablespoon ghee in pan to a medium heat. Add the paneer cubes and fry until they brown. This should take about 3–4 minute. Remove from the pan and set aside.
2. Add the rest of the ghee and heat to high heat. While it is heating up mix the Spice Mix with enough water to form a sloppy paste.
3. Add the cumin seeds and fry for 15 seconds. They should sizzle immediately. You can test the ghee is hot enough by adding one seed.
4. Add the garlic and ginger paste and cook for 1 minute on a lower heat. You may have to remove the pan from the heat initially to stop the paste burning. (If it burns then throw away and start again.)
5, Add the Spice Mix paste and cook for 2 minutes. It should now be thick and gloopy.
6. Add the Base Curry Sauce, (optional) chilli and salt and cook for 2 minute.
7. Add the paneer and coriander and cook until all the pieces are all well-coated. This should take 1–2 minutes.
8. Add the spinach and cook until all the moisture has evaporated and the spinach has wilted. This will take about 5 minutes.

An easy way to ‘chop’ up the spinach is to put it in the freezer, then just before you need it bring it out and beat it with your fist. The spinach will snap into small pieces and defrost very quickly.
Sag Paneer, makes an excellent side dish with its crispy cheese chunks and dark green spinach leaves.

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The waiter in our local restaurant is always asking questions about my orders… It’s like the Spinach Inquisition.

How to cook… Chilli Paneer


Serves 4 as a main dish

Chilli Paneer is a popular and spicy Indo-Chinese dish, combining flavours from both cuisines and with Indian cheese as its main ingredient (make your own paneer). These dishes are emerged in states that border China and India and also from a group of Hakka Chinese people who moved to Calcutta.

What you need
• 4 Tablespoons cornflour
• 1 Tablespoon red chilli powder
• salt and pepper to taste
• 4 Tablespoons cooking oil
• 500g paneer cheese, chopped into small, evenly sized chunks or strips
• 1 large onion, roughly chopped
• 1 each of red, yellow and green capsicum peppers, chopped into bite-sized chunks
• 20g garlic, roughly chopped
• 2 tablespoons chilli sauce (try Baj’s Blazin’ Original Hot Sauce)
• 1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
• 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
• 4 green chillies, sliced down the middle and cut into chunks (don’t deseed)
• small handful of coriander to garnish

How you make it
1. Mix the cornflour with 20ml of water, the chilli powder and some salt and pepper. Coat each piece of paneer in the cornflour mix.
2. Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in a frying pan to a medium heat and shallow fry some of the paneer for a 1–2 minutes until just turning golden. Set aside on kitchen towel. Repeat until all the paneer has been cooked.
3. Add the onions and peppers to the remaining oil and cook for 3–4 minutes on a medium heat.
4. Add in the garlic, the chilli sauce, soy sauce and brown sugar to the onions, peppers and garlic and cook for 2 minutes on a medium heat.
5. Add in the paneer and cook for 3 minutes, then add in the chillies, salt and pepper to taste, then stir well and ensure everything is warmed through,
6. Serve, garnished with coriander leaves.
Recipe courtesy Baj’s Blazin’ Sauce in Greenwich.

This recipe uses strips of paneer but you can use cubes if you prefer.

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Some may warn you that this dish is very hot but it’s really quite chilli.

How to make… Paneer

Curry News

Makes 250g of paneer

What you need…
• 6 pints full cream milk
• 1–2 Tablespoons white vinegar or fresh lemon juice

How to make it…
1. Put the milk into a pan and bring to the boil. Keep stirring to ensure the milk does not stick or burn as this will ruin the taste of the paneer. You’ll know it has boiled when a mound forms on the surface of the milk
2. Take the pan off the heat and add the vinegar or lemon juice a little at a time until the milk separates (these are the curds forming). The separation is pretty obvious so if the whey (what’s left after the curds are forming) still looks like milk, keep going with the vinegar or lemon juice. Let it cool for 10 minutes.
3. Next, remove the curds from the whey. Put some cheesecloth (you can also use muslin or even a J-cloth) over a large bowl and pour the mixture through it to strain out the whey. Rinse the curds with cold water to wash away the taste of the acid.
4. Bring the edges of the cloth together to wrap the curds and squeeze as gently as possible (this ensures the paneer will be soft and crumbly and not flattened completely). Make sure all the liquid had been removed.
5. Put a weight on it and leave it for an hour or more. Some more liquid will come out so put something underneath it.
6. The paneer will have formed and you can now cut it into chunks or strips for use.
Thanks to Chili Paper Chains. Main photo: Sonja Pauen, CCA.

Full cream milk is essential for the proper taste of paneer.
Paneer is beautiful with creamy sauces such as Butter Paneer or as a side dish with spinach.

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