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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Paneer Khurchan - Spiced Cottage Cheese

Paneer khurchan is a relatively new find for me. I have been eating various curries and dishes (spicy and sweet) made from paneer for years, ever since I can remember. However, I hadn't heard of this dish till about a couple of years ago. My husband was reminiscing about his good old college days and he mentioned that occasionally whenever his friend and he went out to dinner, this was a dish they always used to order. Then he asked me, if it was something that I could make. Of course, never having eaten sit, I thought I would give it a shot based on his description. I am not sure if the final result is exactly what he ate, but it turned out really good. It has become one of my go to recipes when I invite guests. It is easy to make and very tasty.

1 green bell pepper (medium), sliced into strips
1 red/yellow/orange (or a mix of colors) bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 tomato, sliced into strips
a 3X3X1 inch slab of paneer (if using ready made). If you make it at home then paneer resulting from about 1-1.5 litre of milk. Approximately 1.5 to 2 cups.
3 cloves of garlic, ground
1 medium red onion, sliced into strips
1 tbsp oil
1/8 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 cup tomato puree (or puree 2 tomatoes)
1/2 - 1 tsp red chilli powder, to taste
salt to taste

Heat the oil in a flat pan. Then add the cumin seeds. Once they start to crackle, add the onions and garlic. Fry it for a minute and then add the bell pepper slices. Stir fry for another minute and then add the tomato strips. Once the vegetables are partially cooked (about 2-3 minutes), add the tomato puree, chilli powder and the paneer. If using ready made paneer, cut it into small pieces and add it. If the paneer is freshly made, just add it without shaping and cutting it. Add salt.
Cook on low to medium heat. The paneer will start sticking to the base of the pan. Scrape it off and keep stirring it. Eventually the paneer will start melting and get scrambled. Cook till the paneer and vegetables are cooked through completely. You will get a nice buttery  fragrance as the paneer browns slightly. Do not let it burn. Make sure to brown the paneer a little. Do not stop the cooking process as soon as the paneer has melted and gotten scrambled. The browning adds a lot of flavor to the dish. Serve hot with roti or naan.

If you are using fresh paneer, you need not squeeze out all the whey water from the paneer. You can just drain it and then add the paneer to the vegetables. The water will evaporate as the paneer cooks down. Make sure to turn down the heat once the paneer reaches the scrambled stage as it can burn easily as it starts to brown and get stuck to the base of the pan. The recipe to make paneer at home can be found here.
You can grind up the leftovers and use it as stuffing for parathas the next day. 


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