Kadai Paneer

It just feels so good to be back blogging after a while. The past couple of months has been soooo crazy busy what with me trying to settle into a new place, new job, new friends, inter state shuttling and tons of to-do things. End result – my poor site suffered, but I have to admit – I have been lazy too to pen down my recipes, then and there and post them. So it ended up with my drafts folder been filled up and my guilt getting built up !   Not a good combination – I know!

Though I was away from blogging past couple of months, I was not away from my culinary ventures. Just as music is therapeutic for some, cooking is pure therapy for me! The very act of creating a dish, be it the very humble dal or a tiramisu – the stress just melts away and the feeling of being in control just settles your inner being… sounding crazy? I may be…Have I ever told you that one of the most refreshing sights for me is seeing fresh vegetables, fruits, spices…My energy levels just shoot up, my mind starts racing at possibilities and I become one happy puppy!!! I heart Farmers markets, our good old roadside bazaars and spice markets!

So a few week back I made this very simple dal out of mexican black beans for a potluck and it just turned out to be a hit! Will post that recipe soon. The interesting thing is that it was made in the eleventh hour without absolutely no planning involved as I had a crazy morning that day. Sometimes the most unplanned, un-thought dishes turn out to be a crowd pleaser and the most elaborate, exotic and well planned recipes fail to even impress. Am sure most of you have faced that at times.  Some of my friends wanted the recipe and that was the final nudge to finally make me start combing though my overflowing draft folder and get back to blogging. So I am back.

Why Kadai Paneer? Just because there was a sale at sprouts farmers market the other day and I ended up grabbing a bag of colorful bell peppers dirt cheap. That and the fact that there were leftover frozen paneer in the fridge. With few simple ingredients that you have at home , this dish is a child’s play and it takes under 30 minutes to cook – so go ahead and try this one 🙂 Two main ingredients, Kasuri Methi (dried fenugreek leaves) and Whole Coriander Seeds play a vital role as they not only give Kadai Paneer the flavour but also distinct aroma. Using fresh ingredients and aromatic spices, Kadai Paneer or Karahi Paneer is a crowd pleaser what with the crunch of bell peppers complimenting the softness of paneer and the yummy simple tomato base!

Ingredients:

Paneer – 8 oz. (Home made or store bought)
Onion –  1 large cubed or 2 small to medium cubed
Red bell pepper – 1/2 cup (cubed)
Green bell pepper – 1 cup (cubed)
Yellow/orange bell pepper – 1/2 cup (cubed)
Coriander seeds – 1/2 tbsp (i like fresh ground coriander so I used 1 tbsp)
Kasoori methi – 2 tsp
Oil/ ghee – 1 tbsp
Cilantro for garnishing
Lemon juice- optional

For making sauce:

Tomato – 4 nos (medium to large)
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Coriander powder – 1/2 tbsp
Red Chilli powder- 3/4 tbsp (adjust according to your spice level)
Turmeric powder – 1tsp
Oil – 1 tbsp
Salt
Water – 3/4 cup (add if the sauce is too thick, so add accordingly)
Method:
Make the sauce
Heat the oil and add ginger-garlic paste and add chopped tomatoes. Add the spice powders listed under the section for making sauce above and cook well until the tomatoes are well cooked and mushy like a pulp form. Set it aside.
Dry roast the coriander seeds until it releases an aroma and cool it. Make sure it is not dark brown or burnt. Powder it coarsely and set aside.
Kadai Paneer
Heat oil in a pan and lightly fry the paneer pieces and keep aside. If you are using fresh homemade paneer, I would suggest to skip this step and not fry as fresh paneer taste amazing when dunked into the dish as it is. If you are using frozen or store bought paneer, go ahead and lightly fry it.
In the remaining oil, add the sliced green chillies, saute for a minute, add onions and saute till cooked lightly to a rose colour. Make sure that the onion does not lose its crunchiness. Add the bell peppers, all colours and saute till they are cooked and they should also be a little crunchy as that will enhance the dish. Texture matters 🙂 . Once the peppers appears to be almost cooked, dunk in the paneer and cook for a while more.
Add the tomato sauce that was set aside to this and gently stir taking care not to break the paneer pieces. Add kasuri methi and the ground corainder powder and adjust salt. Cook for a minute or two until all the flavours are well blended and serve garnished with cilnatro and coriander powder on top.
with garnishing
without garnishing
Tips
I love lemon juice, so i squeeze some lemon juice liberally over the dish in the end for the  final effect. It simply tastes awesome that way!
Make sure that you don’t cook the onions or bell peppers with the lid covered. This makes the dish soggy. This dish is traditionally not a gravy based one, more dry to semi-solid kind. So if you cover and cook, you are going to end up having a soggy dish. It will not make a difference in terms of the taste, just that you may not get the intended texture.
Enjoy and Bon Appetit 🙂
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