Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Dinner Party Series: A Feast from India (Paneer with Peas)

Are your mouths watering, Dollinks? Are your knives and forks at the ready? This is the third in a six-part series on preparing a South Asian meal. In-home caterer and cooking instructor Kuldip Ardwara, of the Surrey/Delta area outside Vancouver, Canada, recently taught me how to make and serve these lovely dishes. What fun it was for me to have a cooking lesson “outside the box!” This vegetarian dish was especially delicious! I’ve known many gifted cooks and Kuldip is clearly one of them. Her hands flew in six different directions as she prepared this meal, and I could barely keep up. “What spices did you just add to that dish, Kuldip?” Answer: “The usual spices!” The woman is a tornado.
Paneer with Peas:
½ small onion, finely diced 
3 garlic cloves, peeled and slivered (preferably organic)
1 piece of ginger, ½ - 1 in. in length, peeled and chopped fine
½ tsp. turmeric
1-½ tsp. garam masala (see Note)
Pinch of cumin seeds
Salt, to taste
Package of paneer, diced (see Note)
½ c. fresh or frozen peas, uncooked
3 c. cold water
Sauté onions. Add garlic and ginger. Cook for 10 seconds. Add turmeric, garam masala, cumin seeds, and salt. Stir. Add paneer and peas, stirring into spice mixture 2 min. Add cold water. Bring to boil and immediately reduce heat, simmering 15 - 20 min., until mixture thickens. Keep hot in covered dish until ready to serve.

Believe it or not, Kuldip's simple individual-sized pots - ideal for keeping
hot foods hot in the oven - were bought in a Dollar Store!  
Another exquisitely spiced dish!
Note: Garam masala is a powdered mixture of Indian spices widely used in Indian cooking. If you can’t find it in the spice or ethnic foods section of your local supermarket, check a South Asian food store or order it online.

Note: Paneer is a soft, fresh cheese with the consistency of tofu. You’ll find it in Indian or Persian food stores, or by asking your grocer to order it. Medium tofu makes an acceptable substitute.
Tomorrow: Bhutura.

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