This Paneer and Peppers in Fragrant Gravy is a favourite East Indian recipe I've been making for more than twenty years.
Paneer is an acid-set, fresh cheese used in East Indian cooking. It is a non-melting cheese made by curdling warm milk with lemon juice or vinegar. It is easy enough to make but you can by it too. Find it in the freezer section at East Indian specialty stores and large grocery stores.You can buy paneer plain or fried, usually cut in cubes. The few recipes I make call for fried paneer so that is what I buy.
One day I saw the words ‘gluten free’ printed on a frozen package of paneer and I grabbed it with this recipe in mind.
Spices for East Indian Cooking
Once considered exotic nowadays spices from all over the world are readily available and a joy to the adventurous home cook. East Indian cooking requires a variety of dried spices in large volumes. Think tablespoons not teaspoons when you are checking your pantry to make sure you have all the ingredients you need.
It is highly possible that I have more spices in my kitchen than the average person. I will not count them and I will not tell you how many I have. But I will share a tip about maintaining a reasonable selection of spices at home.
I buy whole spices, cumin seed and coriander seed in particular, and grind them in my spice grinder. This way I have the seeds for recipes when needed. I also grind those seeds and keep a jar of the ground spice more commonly needed. This can be done with a coffee grinder dedicated to spices or a spice grinder. That system works for me.
And no, I don’t throw all my dried spices out after six months. I try to buy reasonably small amounts and have no problem using them for a few years. As long as they have a fragrant smell when I open the jar I am happy to use them.
Gourmet Dinner Club
Making paneer from scratch is a fun activity if you do it with friends or to bring to a Dinner Club night. Homemade paneer can be flavoured with chiles, green onion and ginger. Today I’m using a bag of plain paneer out of my freezer and it's still going to be delicious.
Let me know in the comments below if you tried this Paneer and Peppers in Fragrant Gravy and what you thought.
Dinner Club Menu
This is my favourite East Indian Menu that I'd make for Dinner Club or any evening with friends. I make it year after year and mix and match a few of my favourite dishes depending on what I feel like.
Paneer and Peppers in Fragrant Gravy
- 1 can diced tomatoes with juices (19 oz/540 ml)
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 tablespoon finely ground almonds
- 4½ teaspoon ground coriander seed
- 1½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 tablespoon sour cream
- 1 cup water
- 1 package frozen fried Paneer cubes, thawed (14 oz/400 g)
- 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- Puree tomatoes, cilantro, ginger and garlic in food processor or blender.
- In a large pot heat oil on medium-high heat. Add cumin and stir until cumin darkens in colour, about 20 seconds. Add onion and cook until golden brown, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.
- Add almonds, coriander, paprika, turmeric and cayenne pepper to onion mixture. Stir until aromatic, about 10 seconds.
- Add tomato mixture to pan and decrease heat to medium. Cook until sauce thickens, about 8 minutes.
- Add sour cream and water. Stir to evenly combine.
- Add paneer, peppers and salt. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 30 minutes, occasionally stirring gently. Serve hot.