Saturday, December 8, 2012

Vegetarian Curry Dishes

Mattar Paneer, or Homemade Cheese & Pea Curry
 The recipes given here have been used by Carol a lot, ever since our stay in New Delhi, where we discovered that vegetarian dishes can be exotic and full of flavor.  First is her Mattar Paneer:

Serves about 4-5 people


2 quarts whole milk

½ cup unflavored yoghurt

2 tablespoons fresh strained lemon juice


5 tablespoons ghee (substitute Canola Oil)

2 tablespoons scraped, finely chopped fresh ginger root

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

1 cup finely chopped onions

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon turmeric

¼ teaspoon ground hot red pepper

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon garam masala (can buy at grocer)

2 cups finely chopped fresh tomatoes ( can use half a can of tomato paste, diluted with some of whey from the cheese)

1 ½ cups fresh green peas (1 ½ pounds unshelled) or 1 ten-ounce package of defrosted frozen peas

1 teaspoon sugar

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)


Prepare cheese as follows: in a heavy 3-4 quart saucepan, bring the milk to a boil over high heat. As soon as the foam begins to rise, remove the pan from the heat and gently but thoroughly stir in the yoghurt and lemon juice. The curds will begin to solidify immediately and separate from the liquid whey. Continue to cook on alow heat until the whey has separated from the milk solids.

Pour the entire contents of the pan into a large sieve set over a bowl and lined with double thickness of cheese cloth. Let the curds drain undisturbed until the cloth is cool enough to handle. Then wrap the cloth tightly around the curds and wring it vigorously to squeeze out all the excess liquid.  Reserve 1 cup of the whey in the bowl and discard the rest.

Place the cheese, still wrapped in cheesecloth, on top of a cutting board and set another board or large flat-bottomed skillet on top of it. Weight the top with canned foods, flatirons, heavy pots, or the like., weighing in all about 15 pounds, and let it rest in this fashion at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours, or until the cheese is firm and compact. Unwrap the cheese and cut it into ½ inch cubes, cover with wax paper or plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use (there should be about  1 to 1 ½ cups of cheese cubes.)

To prepare the cheese and peas, heat the ghee (Canola oil) in a heavy, 10-12-inch skillet until a drop of water flicked into it splatters instantly. Add the cheese cubes and fry them for 4-5 minutes, turning the cubes about gently but constantly with a slotted spoon until they are golden brown on all sides. As they brown, transfer the cubes of cheese to a plate.

Add the ginger and garlic to the ghee (Canola oil) remaining in the skillet and, stirring constantly, fry for about 30 seconds. Add the onions and salt and, stirring occasionally, continue to fry for about 8 minutes, or until the onions are soft and golden brown. Watch carefully for any signs of burning and regulate the heat accordingly.

Stir in ¼ cup of the reserved whey, then add the turmeric, red pepper, ground coriander and garam masala. When they are well blended, stir in the remaining ¾ cup of whey and the tomatoes, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer partially covered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the peas and taste for seasoning. If the gravy has too acid a flavor add up to 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Remove the cover and, stirring occasionally, cook for 3 minutes. Then add the cheese cubes and 1 tablespoon of the fresh coriander, cover the skillet tightly, and simmer over low heat for 10 to 20 minutes, or longer if you are using fresh peas and they are not yet tender.
To serve, transfer the entire contents of the pan to a heated bowl or deep platter, and garnish the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh coriander.

Next up is a recipe for vegatable cutlets:



Medium sized potatoes – 4

Fresh or frozen peas – 1 cup

Fresh green string beans – 1 cup (finely chopped)

Fresh carrots – 1 cup (finely chopped)

One large onion – (finely chopped)

Coriander leaves – 1 bunch (finely chopped)

Ginger – 1 teaspoon (finely chopped)*

Garlic – 1 teaspoon (finely chopped)*

Green chilies – 2 (finely chopped)**

Turmeric powder – ½ teaspoon

Garam masala – 1 teaspoon

Salt – 1 teaspoon

Corn or vegetable oil

Egg whites –2

Plain bread crumbs – 1 cup


1.                  Boil potatoes until well done.  Remove skin and mash well.  Set aside.

2.                  Cook peas, beans and carrots in one cup of water.  When water has completely evaporated, remove from stove and set aside.

3.                  Heat a heavy bottomed skillet.  Add 3 tablespoons of oil.  Add the chopped onions.  On low heat, stir-fry the onions for about 2 minutes or until transparent.   Add green chilies and stir-fry for one minute.

4.                  Add ginger, garlic, coriander leaves, turmeric powder, and garam masala.  Stir-fry for about two minutes on low heat.

5.                  Add the mashed potatoes, carrots, peas, beans, and salt.  Mix well.  Remove from stove.

6.                  When the mixture has cooled, pinch off portions to make small golf sized balls.  Flatten the balls with the palm of your hand.

7.                  Beat egg whites.  Dip each flattened cutlet slightly in the egg white and then coat it with breadcrumbs.

8.                  Heat about half cup oil in a frying pan.  When the oil is hot, place the cutlets on the pan.  Fry each side until well browned.  (You may also deep-fry the cutlets.)

9.                  Drain on paper towel and serve warm as an appetizer (with ketchup or chili sauce) or as a main course with Indian breads or rice.

*You may substitute these two ingredients with one teaspoon each of ginger and garlic paste.

** If you like it spicy, you may add more green chilies.

 Finally, we have a recipe involving potatoes and cauliflower. Another amazing taste sensation.
Aloo Gobhi
In this Punjabi recipe, cauliflower and potatoes are cooked in oil laced with cumin and turmeric until smoky and golden yellow,  Aloo Gobhi is traditionally a mild dish, and a favorite of Indian children. It is one of the first dishes offered to an Indian child to acclimatize his or her palate to spices. The addition of bread, a rice pilaf, and a sweet, fruity chutney makes Aloo Gobhi into a complete meal.
1 head cauliflower, 1 1/2 -2 lb
2 TBL vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2-4 TBL peeled and finely shredded ginger
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp garam masala, or cumin seeds, roasted and ground.
Separate the cauliflower florets and cut them into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Peel the stem and cut crosswise into slices 1/8 inch thick. Chop the leaves if any and add to the cauliflower.
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. When hot, add the cumin and fry until it turns several shades darker, about 30 seconds. Add the potatoes and stir-fry until they are lightly crisped, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, turmeric, and cayenne pepper, and mix well.
Add the caulifower, salt, and water and mix well. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the cauliflower is very soft, about 7 minutes. Uncover the pan, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook until the excess moisture evaporates, about 5 minutes. Check and correct the seasonings. Sprinkle with cilantro and garam masala, or cumin and serve.