Diwali is just round the corner, friends, and our home and city is brimming with festive spirit. But alas, I am not able to post as frequently – about all that we've been doing – as much I would have wanted to. For the next 2-3 days though, before we head off to Dharamshala, I'll try to capture our artful activities, traditions, food etc. And, may be even do a round-up post after Diwali. (smiles)
Talking about Dharamshala, it's the most beautiful hill town in the lap of the Himalayas and is the centre for Buddhist teachings and activities of the Dalai Lama. We will be celebrating Diwali there as we will also attend the Dalai Lama's teachings.
I don't remember if I told you all before – while I'm from North West India (Rajasthan), Avie's (my hubby) family is from down South (Karnataka). So, when we meet, the culinary flavours simmering in our kitchen can be utterly fascinating for the senses!
Besides Rajasthani, being a Delhi-ite, I also cook Punjabi dishes. And then, since I was born in Orissa (East), I have a huge bias toward Oriya delicacies and cook those often. I have a sweet tooth, so I can't help but try my hand at a few Gujarati dishes – most have a hint of sweetness to them.
OK, alright, I proclaim to be a foodie! Hence, festivals and food go hand in hand for me!
I can't help, can I – being in a country like India, which is a food lover's paradise? It's unbelievable how vast and varied the menu in each corner of India is. Every cuisine is so utterly different from the other in its preparation, flavour and even the way it's served and eaten.
Today, I share with you a paneer (cottage cheese)-based curry that also has the richness of cashew and the tang of unique Indian spices and herbs like cinnamon, cardamom and cloves.
This paneer dish is very uncommon in its flavour and rarely seen in restaurants etc. The most common paneer-based curries being – Shahi Paneer, Kadhai Paneer, Paneer Buter Masala, Methi Paneer, Palak Paneer etc.
I made this for 10 people. Accordingly, the ingredients are:
- 400 grams paneer – dice them into cubes
- 2 cups Onion Paste (to make this – first peel the onions, boil them and make a paste in grinder)
- 2 cups Cashew Paste (wash, boil in enough water and once cool – make a paste)
- 2 cups curd – blend lightly in a blender to get a uniform consistency
- Cumin seeds – 2 teaspoons
- 1 table soon cinnamon powder
- 2 teaspoon cardamom powder
- Chopped Green chilly – 1 table spoon
- 1 teaspoon Clove powder
- Curry Leaves (tej patta)
- 2 Table spoons ghee (clarified butter)
- Salt to taste
Note: Please don't get scared looking at this long list, for the requirements can be easily found in your kitchen. And, once you have these in place, the preparation is just a matter of adding one after the other. And, voila – you have the most exotic and original dish to your credit! (winks)
Here are a few photos of the ingredients to make it visual for you.
- Take a large pan and add the ghee (clarified butter).
- When hot, add whole cumin seeds for the 'tadka'. Once cumin seeds are brown, add chopped green chillies and then the onion paste.
- Saute the onion paste till light brown and then add the cinnamon, clove and cardamom powder
- Now, add the cashew paste and saute for a minute.
- Add the paneer cubes
- Add blended curd (when adding the curd, switch off the stove or the curd starts to curdle and break)
- Finally, add the salt, a cup of hot water and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Garnish with cinnamon sticks
- Serve with roti (Indian bread), pita bread or just normal bread.
I hope you will like this delicacy. I absolutely love it for its unique blend of flavours. It's not spicy, its not pungent. But, has extremely rich and unique flavours and the softness of the paneer with the cashew/curd gravy instantly melts in your mouth.
I'd like to add that despite having cashews, this dish doesn't feel heavy on your tummy due to the digestive effect of curd.
My guests absolutely loved it that evening.
Hope you try it and let me know what you think!