Celebrity Home Chef #25 and Thank You India (No, it’s not Alanis Morrisette)


Hi everyone! Today we have Celebrity Home Chef #25, Ms. Jenn Dorr. She is a writer, mother of two, and lover of Indian food. She brought back this delicious recipe from her travels in India and it is certainly a crowd pleaser (I have eaten it and it is fantabulous!).

Enjoy!

Mattar Paneer (Indian New Cheese & Peas)

1 ½ teaspoons whole cumin seeds
2 large onions, preferably red
4 or 5 cloves garlic
1 ½ inches fresh ginger
1 green chilly (optional, I usually skip it)
12 ounce can of tomatoes or, in the summer, 8 to ten fresh plum tomatoes
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon red pepper
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
12 to 14 ounces of fresh or frozen paneer, Indian new cheese (I get mine at Patel Brothers in Parsippany or Jersey City. I like Swad brand)
1 10 to 12 ounce bag of frozen peas
1 tablespoon cooking oil other than olive oil (Canola, sunflower seed)
salt to taste
Optional to serve with:
Fresh Cilantro for garnish
Greek or Indian yoghurt on the side
1 cup basmati rice or whole wheat roti

Lightly toast cumin seeds in oil. Add onions and fry until caramelized. Add green chilly if you choose but this is hot enough without it. While the onions are cooking shred ginger and garlic with a box grater and add to the pot. Add tomatoes. Cook them down if they are fresh. Add all of the ground spices. Taste. Indian cooking is about your personal “masala” so see if you like it at this point and make adjustments if you don’t. Remember it will taste hotter before you add the paneer. Add the paneer. Let it get warm. Add the frozen peas. Serve with chopped cilantro and yoghurt if you wish.

Few accomplished Indian cooks would buy pre-made paneer so if you are feeling ambitious you can figure out how to do it on-line with just milk and a cheese cloth.

I learned how to make this from my Hindi-speaking cook while I lived in Delhi for 1.5 years. She taught me Hindi and cooking. I taught her English food words and some basic English script. You can learn anything when you are motivated to eat well.

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