What to do with paneer
I've got a block of paneer I was going to cut up, saute, and throw in with some biryani rice, but then started thinking that I should try a little harder for dinner....
What are the best, and easiest ways to prepare paneer?
I second that. Mutter or "Matar" Paneer is very tasty...and it has a little secret that you can try. If you are going to your Indian grocery for ingredients, pick up a small package of dried fenugreek. Or, in middle Eastern groceries, it is also known as Qasuri Methi. When you have the hot Matar Paneer ready to serve, take a large pinch of the fenugreek, place it in the palm of your hand, put your hands together and rub vigorously, letting the fenugreek sprinkle on top. Do not stir it in. Serve immediately. The aroma is incredible.
dried fenugreek (qasoori methi is the Urdu/Hindi term) is a subcontinental ingredient and not used in Middle Eastern cooking. You will find it at a desi (subcontinental) grocery. Qasoori methi is very bitter and you should only use about a table spoon for one dish. You should soak it in water and strain it, tossing the water, to remove the bitterness. It is not really used as a regular seasoning, it is used as a green the way one would use spinach or mustard greens or whatever. Like you could add it into the recipe I gave below (it is added at the end of cooking in the last five minutes like the paneer).
you can use it in place of any protein in an Indian recipe. the trick is to toss it in at the end of the cooking so that it doesn't break up.
here is an easy recipe for aloo matar paneer masala (potato pea paneer in wet gravy):
1 medium onion chopped
5 pieces garlic crushed
1 inch piece fresh ginger crushed
3-4 whole dried red chilies
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1 tbs cumin
1 tbs coriander
1/2 tbs garam masala
salt to taste
2 tomatoes chopped
1/2 cup Indian yoghurt, whipped
3 potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/4 cup frozen peas washed in luke warm water
1/3 cup oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
Heat oil in pan. Add whole cumin seeds and whole dried red chilies. Stir around for a moment (do not burn). Add in onions, fry on high heat until translucent. Add in ginger and garlic and stir for one minute (do not burn). Toss in the turmeric and red chili powder, then quickly toss in the potatoes and fry for a moment, then add in the chopped tomatoes. Stir around until the tomatoes have melted down (7-10 minutes). Add in the yoghurt, the salt, garam masala, ground cumin and ground coriander powder, mix well. Allow to come to a boil, then lower heat and cover and cook for about 20 minutes until potatoes are just done. Turn heat up and add in the peas (they should cook very quickly), and the paneer. Lower heat again and cover for five more minutes to cook the peas through. It is done, you can just garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve with flat whole wheat bread or with basmati rice.
paneer is an Indo-Pak ingredient, so that is why one would not find it at a Mid-Eastern grocery. Try an Indian or PK grocery. You can find it fresh at a really good grocer, which is usually available if you have a large South Asian community. But if not, the frozen one is excellent and will definately be available. You can buy it frozen in a giant block, which I don't recommend cuz it takes years to defrost and be cuttable, or you can buy it in pre-cut cubes, which is much easier to handle.