Paneer Dal Curry Recipe
I just discovered freshly made paneer cheese at a local Indian market. The cheese is wonderful and tastes great pan-fried. I didn't want to just serve it as-is, so I prepared a creamy masala sauce to go with it. I also threw in store-bought steamed black lentils (dal) for added protein. It's a nice change from the usual spinach (palak paneer) dish I often make for my husband Lulu.
Served with a large plate of greens, this vegetarian Indian curry makes for a balanced, tasty meal. It's also very versatile; you can make your own variation by just swapping a few ingredients, such as chicken or eggplant in place of the lentils.
Yields: 6 servings16 ounces paneer (Indian cheese), cubed
1-½ cups packed steamed French lentils
¼ cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste (see tips)
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder, freshly ground
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
1-½ teaspoons salt
1 (14.5-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper (optional)
2 teaspoons paprika powder
¼ teaspoon red chili powder
1 tablespoon cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 lemon, freshly squeezed
Prepping the chile (if used): Using a paring knife, create a 2-inch incision in the whole chile pepper. Remove the seeds if you like the dish less spicy. Note: Remember not to rub your eyes after touching jalapeño pepper seeds.
For the paneer: Heat the canola oil in a pan and fry the cubes of paneer until they are golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel, leaving as much oil as possible in the pan. Set the paneer aside.
For the masala sauce: In a large deep saucepan, heat the canola oil. Fry the onions in the oil, stirring frequently to prevent from burning, until the color is evenly golden brown. Add the coriander and cinnamon. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, then add yogurt, stirring frequently. Transfer to a mini-blender and blend until the sauce is smooth. Add the heavy cream. Set aside.
In the same saucepan, add the remaining oil. Add ginger garlic paste, cumin seeds, jalapeño pepper (if used) and red chili powder. Cook until fragrant. Add the tomato sauce, turmeric powder, paprika, the masala sauce and about 1-½ cups of water. Bring to a full boil then lower the heat to medium-high. Cover with a dome-shaped lid to enable the steam to fall back in the saucepan. Cook for about 5 minutes. Stir and season with salt. Add the steamed lentils and fried paneer. Cook for another 8-10 minutes.
Adjust seasoning. The sauce should be slightly sweet (from the caramelized onions). Bring back to a full boil. You could also add more heavy cream (for a creamier texture, but I didn't) and finish with lemon juice. Stir well.
Sprinkle with cilantro.
You can make your own paneer or buy it at your local Indian market.
Indian cuisine always calls for ginger garlic paste. It tastes great and is very healthy for you as well. Just clean the ginger and remove any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife, then finely chop it. Place the chopped ginger and 5 cloves of garlic in a blender, add about 2 tablespoons (or more) of water for a smooth flow. Transfer to a small jar and store in the refrigerator. You can keep this paste for at least a week in the refrigerator.
I used store-bought steamed black lentils from Trader Joe's.
You can either make your own garam masala spice mix (cumin, coriander, cinnamon, etc...) or buy it at any Indian store.
Published By: on February 28, 2012.