Paneer Curry

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For years I had been reluctant to try paneer, as descriptions often liken it to cottage cheese, which immediately puts me off. However, that description is so wildly inaccurate – it’s far more like a halloumi, and since discovering it, I cook with it all the time. The curry below is one of my favourite ways to use it.

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 mild red chilli, finely chopped (with seeds)
  • 2.5 cm (1 in) piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp hot curry powder
  • 1 × 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 100 ml double cream
  • salt and black pepper to season
  • 100 g baby leaf spinach
  • 250 g paneer, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 100 g frozen petits pois
  • a pinch of caster sugar
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • rice and/or naan bread to serve

Method

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, then add the onion, garlic, chilli and ginger and sauté for 3–4 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent, then add the tomato purée, cumin, garam masala and curry powder. Cook for 30 seconds, then add the tinned tomatoes and the double cream.
  2. Season well with salt and black pepper, bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Rinse the spinach leaves.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining vegetable oil in a frying pan over a medium–high heat. Add the paneer and fry it, turning it frequently, until golden brown and crisp all over. Add the paneer to the curry.
  4. Return the curry to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for a further 10–15 minutes. Add the frozen petits pois and spinach, return to the boil, and simmer for just a few minutes until the peas are cooked and the spinach has wilted.
  5. Add the sugar and a small squeeze of lemon juice, check the seasoning, and serve with rice or naan bread.