One of the outcomes of writing my blog has been the generation of a lot of conversation with my friends about their own favourite family recipes, and the stories behind them. This in turn has led to a group of friends and I gathering regularly at each other’s houses for lunch, each bringing a different dish from our heritage to the table, which so far has included amazing dishes from India, the Philippines, Korea and China. We watch each other cook, discussing ingredients and techniques as we go, and plonk all the food onto the middle of the table for us to tuck into. It is through this that my two year old son and new-food-phobe has developed a surprising love of Filipino vegetable noodles and Indian lemon rice. And while we eat and discuss the roots of the recipes, the talk naturally turns to our families and backgrounds - it is all pure, tummy-and-heart-warming loveliness.
A new recipe that I have been introduced to by one of my awesome foodie friends, is an Indian dish, ‘Matar Paneer’, which is a pea and cheese curry. Paneer is an Indian cheese, which you can get in most supermarkets; it is firm and has a high melting temperature, so it holds its shape during cooking, and it has a mild flavour which absorbs and beautifully balances the spices it is cooked in. Though I urge you to have a go at making this scrummy recipe yourself, I must say that my own attempts have tasted nowhere near as good as my friend’s curries, which are cooked using homemade paneer and authentic spices direct from India. At the very least you must locate this dish on your Indian take-away menu and add it to your order next time, you will not be disappointed.
Slab of paneer cheese (usually sold in packs of around 225g)
1/2 tsp red chilli powder (hot) or 1 tsp mild
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 medium bowl frozen peas
1 onion, diced
2 large, ripe tomatoes, chopped (or half a tin of tomatoes)
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 inch ginger, sliced
1 green chilli (as much/little as you want), sliced
2-3 tablespoons cream
- Saute the onion, ginger, garlic and green chilli in a little oil until golden.
- Put the mixture into a grinder or blender with the tomatoes to make a paste.
- Add more oil to the pan and saute the paneer and peas, then add the paste.
- Let the paneer and peas cook in the paste for around 15 mins - if the sauce is thin simmer it until it reduces down and thickens, or if too thick add some water to thin.
- Add the turmeric, coriander, chilli powder and cream.
- Simmer for 5 mins.
- Serve with rice and/or Indian breads. 'Shana' do amazing frozen chapatis and parathas which take minutes to cook in a dry pan - available in Tesco and Sainsburys.
*In the photo I have garnished the curry with chopped coriander and toasted almonds, but this is optional. Oh and I also chucked in some green beans which needed using!