Who doesn’t love a good curry? This week is National Curry Week, celebrating a dish which over the years has become part and parcel of the UK dining out scene. The history of Indian food in Brtitain is now almost four hundred years old and not only has the cuisine undergone a great change in the United Kingdom but also in its native land. Whether it’s a take-away korma or a lamb rogan josh at your local restaurant, a curry is everyone’s favourite Friday night treat. National Curry Week began in 1998 in an attempt to promote the huge variety of South Asian foods, and also to raise money for charities. This year National Curry week takes place between 7 – 13 October and is now in its 16th year. To pay my dues to this celebration, this is my small contribution from my side 🙂
I share this love-hate relationship with Paneer. I love the way it blends with any other ingredients and hate its effect on my waistline. Last week after surviving on soups, salads, dal and quick vegetables stir fries for a week, my taste buds begged for some exciting ingredients. Well, what more exciting can be than a block of fresh homemade Paneer to indulge in?! This dish is full of texture and flavour and the piece of Paneer doesn’t get lost in thick, creamy gravy. Unlike Paneer Butter Masala which has fresh cream and very creamy gravy base, Kadai Paneer is semi dry curry. And it doesn’t take very long time to cook Kadai Paneer or Karahi Paneer as it would for Malai Kofta or Paneer Kofta.
The recipe uses whole spices instead of spice powders which is why it tastes very different from what we usually have in restaurants. Kadai means ‘Indian Wok’ and Paneer Means ‘Indian Cheese’. So this is dish is basically Indian cheese cooked in kadai with some other spices and onion-tomato gravy. Traditionally onions and tomatoes are finely chopped and then cooked until they fall apart. Since I was short on time, I pureed the tomatoes which not only saved time from chopping but also reduces the cooking time. 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. And what more, making Kadai Paneer is a child’s play and it takes under 30 minutes to cook this exotic dish. The crunch of bell peppers compliments the softness of paneer and the sweet and spicy onion-tomato paste makes this Kadai Paneer or Karahi Paneer one exciting dish to serve with any Indian flat breads (Whole Wheat Naan or Butter Naan or with any stuffed parathas) or plain/flavoured Basmati rice. I got the recipe from Dassana’s Veg Recipes of India. I slightly tweaked the recipe by adding few finely chopped onions and it turned out so good. Dassana has used garlic in this recipe, but I have tried it without garlic since I prepared it during Navratris for a get together and I wanted everyone to enjoy this.
Serves:- 3-4 people
Preparation time:- 30 minutes
Recipe source: – Veg recipes of India
What you need?
- 250 gms paneer/cottage cheese, cubed
- 5-6 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 or 2 green chilies, chopped
- 1.5 inch ginger, julienned
- 2 green bell peppers/capsicum, julienned
- 1 tsp cumin seeds, roasted
- 5-6 kashmiri red chilies
- 1.5 tbsp coriander seeds, roasted
- 2 tsp crushed kasuri methi/dry fenugreek leaves
- ½ tsp garam masala powder
- ½ cup chopped coriander/cilantro leaves
- salt to taste – I used almost 2 tsp
How to make?
In a wok heat oil, add the crushed ginger and green chillies and saute these till the raw smell disappears. Now add the chopped tomatoes and cook till they become soft.
Meanwhile, grind the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and red chilies to a roughly fine powder. When the tomatoes are cooked, add this spice powder to the pan.Cook this Masala till the whole mixture become like a paste and starts to leave oil.
Then add the julienned capsicum and saute it for some 8-10 minutes on low flame. Then add salt and garam masala powder, and all other spices.
Add Paneer cubes and cook for almost 5 minutes in the masala. At last add kasuri methi and cilantro leaves, check seasoning and serve hot with basmati rice or naan.
Some tips and notes
- The texture of capsicum should not be over cooked and soft. Thats why its recommended to chop capsicum small so that you dont need to cook it for long and still get the right texture.
- You may add garlic to this, it tastes very good. I have tried the recipe both with and without garlic and it tastes wonderful
- I have used all three colours’ bell peppers in this recipe but green ones suit taste the best
- Add a dash of butter ( yumm !! ) on top before serving for that extra richness! 😀