Monday, 28 February 2011

Paneer and Peas

I'm just going to have a little moan about something that's been giving me the pip for a while now.

It used to be just the overpaid cheffy types on TV, but I see the media has now taken up the ‘cooking from scratch’ mantra and I keep seeing people on food forums banging on about it as well; it seems to have become the new foodie religion and woe betide you if you don't join in. Don't get me wrong - I cook every day and I very rarely buy ready meals or convenience foods, but I don't get hung up about making absolutely everything myself. However, an awful lot of people would have you believe they grow their own wheat, mill their own flour and churn their own butter with the milk from the cow they keep at the end of the garden! They're almost evangelical in their self-righteous fervour and they're getting right up my nose!

On a forum the other day somebody mentioned a jar of *shock…horror* curry sauce which he'd found very tasty. Well, the 'knit your own broccoli' brigade came down on him like a ton of bricks - you'd have thought he'd committed some heinous crime when, actually, all he'd done was cook himself a nice curry.

Now, I'm partial to a nice curry myself but I don’t keep umpteen different Indian spices in the pantry, all lovingly ground by my own fair hand, because to be perfectly honest I can’t be bothered. I use a reliable good quality curry paste and I don’t feel in the slightest bit guilty about it; only, keep it to yourself for God's sake or I'll have the food police beating a path to the front door!!

Right, now I've got that off my chest....back to last night’s dinner; this is my take on Paneer and Peas, which is a great dish in its own right, but I had some mushrooms and spinach hanging around in the fridge so I threw those in as well. It was one of those ‘clear out the veg drawer’ meals but it worked really well – I make no claims about its authenticity but it tasted pretty damned good!

small knob of butter
2 onions, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 largish potato, peeled and chopped
1 tsp black onion seeds
1 heaped tbsp Patak's Tikka Masala curry paste
1 tin chopped tomatoes
100ml water
220gm pack of paneer, chopped into 1cm cubes
200gm frozen peas
3 good handfuls of baby spinach
1 tsp Garam Masala
small bunch of coriander, chopped

Saute the onions and garlic gently in the butter in a large pan for 5-10 minutes. Add the black onion seeds and potatoes and saute for a further 5 minutes. Add the curry paste, tomatoes and water, stir well and bring to the boil then cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the paneer, peas and Garam Masala, simmer for 5 mins then add the spinach and allow to wilt. Take off the heat and stir in the chopped coriander just before serving. Garnish with extra chopped coriander and serve with rice.

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