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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Paneer in Tomato Sauce

You'll need to make the cheese for this recipe several hours ahead of cooking, but it's well worth it.

Paneer in Tomato Sauce

  • 8 cups milk
  • 3-4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup raw sesame oil
  • 1 garlic
  • 1 inch piece ginger root
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 hot pepper (chili or jalapeño)
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne


Place milk in a large pot and heat gently, stirring to prevent scalding, almost to boiling.
Remove from heat and add lemon juice, one tablespoon at a time, stirring well after each addition.
Once the curds start to separate out, stop adding lemon juice and continue to stir for 4-5 minutes.
Curdling Milk

Line a large sieve with four layers of cheesecloth, then strain the milk mixture through the cheesecloth.
Rinse curds with cold water to wash off the sour taste.
Straining Cheese

Tie sides of cheesecloth up around the curds to form a bag.
Place bag of curds on a large flat-bottomed plate.
Place a second plate on top of curds and weigh down with a heavy weight. (I use a couple of wood grenades because that's the sort of crazy thing I have lying about in my kitchen.)
Press cheese until it is firm and rubbery (about 4 hours), periodically draining off any liquid which accumulates on the bottom plate.

Remove cheesecloth from paneer and slice cheese into 1 inch cubes.
Mince garlic, ginger and hot pepper.
Dice onion.
Smash cardamom pods.
Pour oil into a small frying pan with deep sides.
Heat over medium-low heat.
Add paneer in a single layer, working in batches if necessary.
Fry until paneer is lightly browned on both sides.
Remove paneer, allowing oil to drain back into the pan, and set aside.
Add garlic and ginger to the pan of hot oil and stirfry for about a minute.
Add onions and stirfry until soft and golden.
Transfer contents of the frying pan to a large saucepan.
Add the tomatoes and water and stir.
Bring to a boil over high heat.
At the hot pepper, cardamom, turmeric and cayenne.
Lower the heat and simmer slowly until sauce has thickened.
Add the paneer and continue to simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
Serve hot over rice.

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