Saturday, August 27, 2005 7:47 PM
Paneer two ways
I thought it would be fun to do something else for Is My Blog Burning again, but this weekend I think today is my last chance. I am planning to drive to Portland tomorrow and will probably be a bit exhausted upon my return.
Yesterday I bought a big brick of paneer cheese. I never got around to cooking a real dinner last night, so except for nibbling a bit and eating the paneer with a little harissa, and eating some snacks, I never got the energy to do anything more substantial with my ingredients.
Today I came home relatively early because today’s promo event was an outside thing at Uwajimaya Bellevue, and everything shut down around 4pm. I brought the luggables from that event back to my office and went home and relaxed a bit. I’m afraid I’m a bit pink… I didn’t remember to bring sunscreen today.
This month’s theme was “Let’s Get Frying,” and although I was inclined to do another matcha fritter recipe, I’ve eaten a lot of sweet stuff in the last few days, so I decided against it.
I remembered that I have a couple of peaches still, so I made quick peach chutney, seasoned with a bit of lime juice, ginger, and various spices. I thought the bittersweetness of toasted fenugreek and the aroma of a little clove would work well, so those were the dominant accents. I did add a bit of sugar after tasting to balance the acid and spices.
I cubed paneer and coated it with some seasoned katakuriko; I had mixed in a bit of salt and garam masala, plus a bit of cayenne pepper. After coating, I let the cubes rest a bit in the freezer, atop the remaining katakuriko to prevent anything from sticking.
It might seem strange to use katakuriko when chickpea flour would be far more typical for such a dish, but I love using katakuriko for frying tofu and I just wanted to see how it would turn out. It was quite nice because the coating was very light and crispy, whereas chickpea flour tends to produce a dense and not all that crispy result. I might have used a thicker coating than would really be required, though… my fried tofu is not usually this well-covered. The most interesting thing about this little experiment is that the cheese seems to have browned inside, but the katakuriko remained mostly translucent.
Fried Paneer with Peach Chutney
The chutney was better than I expected, and was a very suitable accent for the mild paneer. Unlike European cheeses, where the compliment to the cheese would tend to be either mild, such as quince paste, or salty, like olives or almonds, the paneer benefits from something a little more aggressive; in this case, sweet, acidic, fruity, and moderately spicy.
I don’t know what’s possessed me to be doing so many spicy cream sauces lately. Actually, this is only the second one this week, but I can count the times I’ve otherwise made anything resembling a spicy tomato cream sauce in the last year on one hand. This one I cut a bit with some milk, but it was still quite rich.
This second dish isn’t meant for the “frying” event, but I was actually looking forward to making this ever since the idea to pick up some paneer popped into my head on Friday.
Paneer in a spicy tomato cream sauce
The dish also proved a fair way of highlighting the paneer’s texture while allowing flavors from the sauce to coat each little piece.
I was surprised at how durable the paneer was. Although it softened, it didn’t show the slightest hint of melting, either in the fryer or simmering in my sauce.
Of course I ate leftover rasam and grilled eggplant from a couple of days ago. I couldn’t finish everything today by myself, and my roommate is not around, so leftovers will likely languish in the refrigerator until Monday.