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This recipe is a staple in my home. Paneer soaks up all the goodness of the spices, and it is perfect served with parathas or pulao. The kadhai masala blend quantities are enough to make this recipe twice over, so store the remainder in an airtight container for the next time you cook this dish.
Thali: A Joyful Celebration of Indian Home Cooking by Maunika Gowardhan is available now.
Stir-Fried Paneer & Peppers in a Kadhai Masala
- 300 g (10½ oz) tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 2 heaped tbsp tomato purée, paste
- 5 tbsp vegetable oil
- 80 g (3 oz) red onion, thinly sliced
- 300 g (10½ oz) mixed bell peppers, thinly sliced
- 450 g 1 lb paneer, cut into bite-sized cubes
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 7.5 cm (3 in) ginger root, cut into matchsticks
- 120 g (4 oz) white onions, finely chopped
- 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- pinch of sugar
- salt, to taste
- 2 tbsp kasoori methi
- chopped coriander, cilantro, to garnish
For the kadhai masala
- 3 dried red Kashmiri chillies
- 2 tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp whole black
- 7-8 green cardamom pods, seeds only
- First make the kadhai masala. Put the spices in a dry frying pan (skillet) and dry-roast over a low heat for 3–4 minutes until fragrant, stirring well to make sure they are evenly toasted.
- Leave to cool, then grind in a spice grinder to a coarse mix. Set aside.
- Put the tomatoes and tomato purée in a blender and blend to a smooth, fine paste. Set aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, then add the red onion and peppers and fry for 5 minutes until they begin to soften, stirring well. Add the diced paneer, along with 3 tablespoons of the kadhai masala (or a touch more if you prefer it spicy). Stir well, but make sure not to break up the paneer. Cook for 2 minutes to soften, then turn off the heat and set aside.
- Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in a wok or kadhai over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and two-thirds of the ginger matchsticks and fry for a few seconds, then add the white onions and fry for 12–14 minutes until they soften and change colour, stirring well to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Add the blended tomato purée and cook for another 12 minutes until the mixture thickens and reduces slightly.
- Add the chilli powder, turmeric, ground coriander and sugar, season to taste and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring well.
- Now add the paneer and pepper mix and stir together over a low heat for 2–3 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the kasoori methi and the remaining ginger matchsticks and stir well.Garnish with fresh coriander and serve in the thali with tadka dal, phulkas and raita.
Except and photo printed with permission from Thali: A Joyful Celebration of Indian Home Cooking by Maunika Gowardhan published by Hardie Grant Books February 2022.