Paneer is an Indian cheese, similar to cottage cheese and not salty. It’s perfect to cook into so many dishes as it holds its shape without melting and takes in so much flavour. I had a go making my own paneer for this recipe which was so easy as it only uses 2 ingredients! It’s then good for any curries, sprinkled over naans, lentils or in a saag paneer with spinach, another favourite of mine. The recipe is below if you want to try yourself!
I like to add some yoghurt to up the creaminess in this coconut curry but that can easily be omitted, as well as the coconut milk if you fancy a drier tomato based alternative. I love this served with sticky coconut rice.
225g paneer cheese, cubed (or see below to make your own)
2 aubergines, cut lengthways and sliced into crescents
2 red onions
2cm piece of ginger
3 cloves garlic
2-3 fresh red chillies
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
6 cardamom pods, seeds
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
250g cherry vine tomatoes, wedged
200g frozen peas
1x can coconut milk
Handful of fresh coriander
Greek or coconut yoghurt (optional)
1. Heat 2 tbsp sunflower oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the paneer cubes and fry on a medium heat until charred, crispy and browned then turn over and brown the other sides. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain the oil. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes.
2. In a deep saucepan, heat another good lug of oil and cook the aubergine cubes over a medium heat, stirring regularly, so they soften and brown, around 15 minutes.
3. While the aubergines are cooking, in a small frying pan add the cumin, coriander and cardamom seeds and dry fry for a few minutes until fragrant. Take off the heat and set aside.
4. Either finely chop or blitz in a blender; the onions, ginger, garlic, chillies, tomato puree, dried spices and toasted seeds with 1 tbsp. water to make a curry paste.
5. When the aubergine is tender, add the paste ingredients to the pan. Fry for 3-4 minutes with the paste as it begins to toast and become fragrant.
6. Add in the peas and cherry tomatoes, combining all the ingredients with the curry paste and allowing the peas to thaw out. Add a good dollop of yoghurt if using.
7. Finally add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer, stirring so everything is warmed through and softened. Taste and season well with salt and pepper.
8. Scatter over the coriander, extra chopped chilli and yoghurt to serve.
2 litres whole milk (avoid skimmed, non fat or UHT milk)
3-4 tbsp lemon juice
1. In a deep sauce pan, heat the milk on a low/medium heat until it comes to a boil. This make take around 20 minutes but don’t be tempted to turn up the heat. Keep an eye and stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
2. When it starts to boil and rise up the pan, turn the heat down and add the lemon juice. Keep stirring and you should see it curdle straight away. Take off the heat and cover to give it time for the curds to separate from the whey.
3. Line a sieve with cheesecloth or a large piece of muslin and place it over a big bowl. After about 10 minutes, you should see big chunks of curds form in the milky liquid. Pour this slowly into the sieve to catch the curds and drain off the whey. Run some cold water over the sieve to remove any remaining whey. Take hold of the muslin and squeeze any remaining whey out. Then twist and flatten the muslin bundle on a plate, forming it roughly into a rectangle shape and weigh it down with another plate. Leave this to set in the fridge for at least an hour or so. It should keep for about 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge, ready to use in so many delicious dishes!