Paneer is a staple of Indian vegetarian dishes. It is made by boiling milk with diluted lemon juice, then separating the curd. The curd is placed in a cheesecloth and run under water, then pressed under a heavy weight to press out the water. You can buy it in an Indian market in slabs resembling Tofu. Paneer tastes a bit like fresh mozarella cheese, albeit less fatty and more mild.

Oftentimes, Arti's mom will make a really tasty dish with Paneer, red bell peppers, and onions in a very rich and spicy cream sauce. We asked her about how she prepares it today, and came up with this recipe doing some experimentation in the kitchen.

We had it for dinner this evening, and it's the real deal! It really tastes like good Indian food, which is way more that we can say for our attempts at making Thai curry at home.

Many of these ingredients will be difficult to find at a "regular" supermarket, so you will be better off finding an Indian grocery store nearby.

Ingredients
(Makes 4-6 servings)

  • 1+ lbs of Paneer, cut into small chunks (1cm x 1cm x 2cm). We used a brand called "Desi".
  • A red bell pepper, sliced, with peices about two inches long
  • Half a white or yellow onion, cut similarly to the bell pepper
  • 4 Teaspoons Olive oil
  • 1 Teaspoon of Jeera (Cumin Seeds)
  • 1 ½ Teaspoon of Amchur Powder (Sour Mango Powder)
  • 1 ½ Teaspoons of Coriander Powder
  • ½ Teaspoon of Turmeric
  • 2 ½ Teaspoons of Tandoori BBQ Masala
  • ¾ Teaspoon Salt
  • ¾ Cup Sour Cream
  • ¼ Cup Roasted Cashew Powder. We roasted raw cashews in the toaster oven then blended them in the food processor for a couple of minutes. Add a bit more for a heartier sauce.
  • ½ Cup Water

Making the Dish

  1. Combine the dry spices (Jeera, Amchur, Coriander, Turmeric, Tandoori Masala, Salt) in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the bell pepper and onion to the skillet, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and sautee until the bell pepper just starts to get soft, about 4 minutes.
  4. Dump the veggies into a bowl and set aside.
  5. Add 2 more teaspoons of olive oil to the skillet.
  6. Dump in the dry spices from the first step and stir them into the oil for a couple of minutes to really bring out the flavor.
  7. Stir in sour cream, cashew powder, and water. Now you have the basis for the sauce! Give it a taste, and adjust any of the spices to your liking.
  8. Add the veggies and diced paneer to the sauce, and simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes (or more) to let the sauce's flavor permeate the paneer.

This is great served over rice, with Naan, or with Roti (a flat, whole wheat bread). Put some Raita (yogurt with salt, pepper, and shredded cucumber) on the side, and you have a delicious meal.