Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I Heart Indian Food: Paneer and Okra Curry

I recently purchased a very well photographed Indian cookbook called Meena Pathak Celebrates Indian Cooking. The photo of her Paneer and Okra Curry was so colorful and tasty that I just had to make that the first recipe I tried.

Until making this dish, I had been an okra and paneer virgin in that I'd never cooked with either. I learned quite a bit about both from the experience. In another post, I'll make my own paneer. But for now, here's what I made from Mrs. Pathak's lovely book.

I'm not going to reprint her recipe in hopes that you actually purchase the book, but I'll tell you about how I made it.

First, I cut a package of paneer (from my local Indian shop--that makes fantastic samosas, by the way) into 1 in. cubes and deep fried it in canola oil. What I learned about paneer is that you don't need to fry it for long before it starts getting really hard.

I drained the fried paneer (and yours should be golden brown, not dark brown like mine) on a plate with paper towels.

You'll see that some are half white still. Well, I didn't want them to turn into little rocks, so I pulled them out before they were entirely browned. I'll get the hang of this sooner or later. It's just my first time, so please don't be too hard on me. It also was the first time I deep fried using my dutch oven.

Next, I deep fried the okra for a few minutes and dried them with the paneer.

My favorite part comes next, making the masala. That was made with spices (cumin, ginger, chili powder, coriander and tumeric) mixed with onions, green chili peppers (I used serrano) and fresh chopped tomatoes. I sauteed them together until the tomatoes just stared to break down.

Then, I added water and cooked it for 10 minutes before adding the paneer and okra.

I checked the seasoning, added just a touch of salt and lime juice, then a little fresh cilantro before diving into a small bowl of this delicious meal.

It's best eaten right away, although it's alright the day after as well. And, despite overdoing it with the paneer, it was still one of the tastiest dishes I've made in a while.

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