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Old 03-21-2006, 09:17 AM   #1
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Mattar Paneer help

I found an ethnic grocery that has packaged indian paneer. The packaging says in English "Indian curd cheese". I love mattar paneer and would like to make it at home, but the idea of making the cheese has always been daunting. (Yakuta... are you out there????) Is this by any chance the same cheese used in mattar paneer? Also, any recipes for the entire dish would be wonderful.

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Old 03-21-2006, 10:21 AM   #2
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Hi velochic, yes that is most likely paneer (or Indian cheese). It is actually pretty simple to make mattar paneer granted you have some basic spices or curry powder at your disposal.

You will need paneer (I make mine at home and if you are interested I can post a simple recipe)
2 cups of fresh or frozen peas (depending on your preference)
1 large onion finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic finely minced
1/2 stick of ginger finely grated
1 tsp of jeera (cumin seeds)
1 tbsp of curry powder (seems like a lot but you need it for flavor)
1 green chilli chopped (if you like it hot)
1/2 cup of sour cream or cream
2 large tomatoes finely diced
salt to taste
cilantro for garnish
3 tbsp of oil and then another 2-3 tbsp to lightly fry the paneer

In a saute pan add the 5 tbsp of oil and heat it on moderate heat. Meanwhile cut the paneer into small cubes carefully without breaking them. Lightly pan fry the paneer in the oil until it's lightly browned on one side. Then carefully flip it and lightly brown it on the other side. Remove and blot on a paper towel.

In another saute pan use 2tbsp of oil or you can use the oil left over from frying the paneer. Once the oil is hot add the cumin seeds and toast them a bit. Next add the chilli and onions and saute until the onions are translucent and lightly brown. Next add the garlic, ginger and curry powder and saute it for a few more minutes. Now add the tomatoes and a cup of water and cover and let it cook until the gravy releases oil. You sometimes have to use elbow grease. Now you will be left with a lumpy gravy. Add another cup of water to it, followed by the cream, peas and paneer. Cover and let it simmer for another 30 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve with bread or rice of your choice.
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Old 03-21-2006, 10:30 AM   #3
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sounds wonderful! I love Indian cuisine.
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Old 03-21-2006, 11:52 AM   #4
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I knew you'd be along to help me, Yakuta!! :)

Couple of questions... do I seed the tomatoes? Can I puree the mixture before adding the peas, etc. to get a smoother consistency? Is there anything else that makes it hot other than the chiles? I like it hot. :)

Thanks!!!
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Old 03-21-2006, 12:56 PM   #5
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You can puree the tomatoes or dice them superfine. You don't need to seed them. I normally like to use elbow grease to fry them with the onions in the oil so that it is reduced to pulp. That is traditionally the way we make Indian gravies. Sauteeing is the way gravies get a deep rich color. We normally don't blend anything to make it smooth but just saute it and amazingly the tomatoes and onions will almost disintegrate and become smooth on their own.

To make it hot you can add chilli powder along with a few green chillies. To make it look pretty you can wash the chillies and slit them in the middle and just drop them in the gravy. They look pretty and add the perfect amount of spice. If you are like my husband who loves spicy food, you can eat those chillies along with the peas and paneer.
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Old 03-25-2006, 09:15 PM   #6
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Am I being naive here? I have been making what I thought was paneer to use in curries for some years now. It is simply yogurt put into a clean pop-sock and allowed to drain for several hours.

If you want to make paneer dishes then add all the necessary bits and pieces, but the curd cheese is made as I have suggested.
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Old 03-28-2006, 06:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by advoca
Am I being naive here? I have been making what I thought was paneer to use in curries for some years now. It is simply yogurt put into a clean pop-sock and allowed to drain for several hours.

If you want to make paneer dishes then add all the necessary bits and pieces, but the curd cheese is made as I have suggested.
Yakuta can confirm this, but my Indian friends tell me that authenic indian paneer is whole milk and and acid (lemons usually, or limes can be used), not yogurt.
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Old 03-30-2006, 09:46 AM   #8
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Yes Paneer is made by taking whole milk and bringing it to a boil. Then curdling it with an acid. I prefer to use vinegar. Then let it stand until the milk curds are thoroughly formed and then seiving it in a cheese cloth. Then squeeze out the water from the cheesecloth and place it in a tray with a weight on it ( I like to use my cast iron gratin dish). Leave it overnight and then cut it into strips and then into small peices and you are all set.
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Old 03-30-2006, 07:55 PM   #9
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My son has just pointed out that when he makes curry he uses whole milk and the method mentioned by Yakuta. (He learned how to do this in Bradford, England, a city heavily populated with Indians and Pakistanis, while a student at University there) He has chided me for cheating by using yogurt and told me firmly this is why my curries do not taste a nice as his.

I hide my head im shame.
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Old 04-01-2006, 06:50 PM   #10
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I use Yakuta's method as well, but have only tried it with lemon juice. What is the difference between using lemon juice or vinegar? Is it just a taste preference or is there a texture difference as well?

The only problem I've run into with my homemade paneer has been when I've tried to fry/saute it - it tends to stick to the pan & doesn't hold it's shape.
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Old 04-01-2006, 08:08 PM   #11
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Hi Breezy, it's strictly preference. For me white vinegar does a better job of curdling. As far as breakage goes it will not break as much if it is not extremely dry. I like to press it under weight (as I indicated) and then wrap it in a plastic film and refrigerate it. It stays moist that way. Then cut and carefully pan fry.
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Old 04-07-2006, 12:21 PM   #12
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Could you substitute peas for spinach? I've tried to make Saag several times and have always failed miserably. I wonder if this would be a viable alternative.
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Old 04-07-2006, 02:27 PM   #13
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Vyapti what you are referring to is saag paneer and not matter paneer. The preparation technique is very different. Try using this recipe for saag. I don't know why you had disasters but this is a simple enough saag recipe. You can make it with or without paneer. All of the ingredients used in my recipe are available at your local grocery store.

1 tbsp of oil (any will do)
1 large onion finely chopped
3 bunches of fresh spinach (washed several times) and then roughly chopped
Note: You can substitute with 2 packets of chopped frozen spinach, I just prefer fresh
1 jalapeno pepper roughly chopped or more if you like it spicy
2 large tomatoes roughly chopped
salt to taste

In a saute pan, add the oil. Once the oil is hot add the onions and jalapenos and cook it until the onions are lightly browned. Add the tomatoes and cook them for 5 minutes until they get mushy. Next add spinach and salt to your liking. Let the spinach saute for 10 minutes covered in the saute pan. Turn off the heat.

Now comes the next part and the ingredients needed are as follows:

Pureed spinach (You actually take the spinach from step one and puree it in a blender or with a hand blender)
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 tsp of whole cumin seeds
3 tbsp of butter
1 cup of heavy cream

In a saute pan, add the butter. Once the butter is lightly brown. Add the cumin seeds and garlic and saute them for a minute until you smell the garlic and cumins toasting in the butter. Next add the pureed spinach and heavy cream and let it simmer on low for 20 minutes. You can enjoy this with any flatbread.

This is a recipe for saag (spinach) part. In Indian restaurants they prepare saag using a similar technique and then pan fry paneer (they way I indicated in my earlier responses) and then just place them in the saag. I personally am not a huge paneer fan and like the saag by itself. It's like a spicy creamy spinach.
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Old 04-07-2006, 02:30 PM   #14
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Thank You! Thank You!

I will try it this weekend.
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Old 04-10-2006, 04:06 AM   #15
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Yakuta - Mattar means "pea" in hindi, yes? Once you have the sauce, the sky's the limit? Is the sauce different depending on the vegetable (or legume) you put in? Because quite honestly, it's the sauce of Mattar Paneer that I'm in love with. I couldn't be happier if I could just have the cheese, sauce and rice.
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Old 04-10-2006, 07:46 AM   #16
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Hi Velochic, yes Mattar means peas. You can use the same gravy/sauce in combination with other veggies.

I gave you a recipe for a sauce that's pretty basic. You can even try variations to the sauce by doing the following:

Use some ground sweet cashews in addition to the cream. Use a pinch of fenugreek seeds powdered (also called Methi) in the sauce along with other spices. It's extremely bitter (so don't put it in your mouth) but a pinch goes a long way to give the gravy a restaurant taste plus it's supposed to be a good digestive.

I use a similar sauce for meat (mainly chicken) or veggies. It's not your everday sauce since it has some cream in it but once in a while it does not hurt.
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