Creamy Matar Paneer

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When I first cooked this dish, I followed a recipe my sister-in-law gave me.  Sometimes, I would search the internet and compare.  But last week, I finally had the courage to make my own recipe and it turned out great.  When a friend asked me for the recipe, I realized that I did not even write it down.  So today, I made it again just so I can write down the recipe.  This is my own recipe and I am really, really proud of it.  If you like it, please leave a message.  If you have a suggestion on how to make this dish better, leave a message.  Let’s help each other make a perfect Matar Paneer dish.

I never tasted Indian food until I was already in my 30s and I think that was too late for me to discover the richest, tastiest food in the planet.  A lot of Filipinos are turned off by the smell and by the number of spices in Indian dishes so Indian restaurants never really became popular in the small city I grew up in.

Now, I will try to cook Indian dishes with subtle flavor that I know Filipinos will love.  This way, I will be able to slowly introduce Indian dishes to my Filipino friends.

As for me introducing Filipino food to the world, don’t worry, I will get there.  Just wait for the world domination of Filipino food.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups                Paneer

2 Tablespoons        Ghee (Canola or Vegetable oil).

1/3 cup                     Cashew

1 cup                         Red onion (coarsely chopped)

1 teaspoon               Ginger paste

1 teaspoon               Garlic paste

2 teaspoons             Coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon            Red Chili powder (lessen or add according to taste)

1/4 teaspoon            Turmeric powder

1/2 teaspoon            Garam masala

1 teaspoon                Salt

1/2 cup                      Tomato Puree (Note 3)

1 cup                          Water, warm

1 1/2 cup                    Green peas

                                    Coriander, chopped

PANEER PREPARATION:

    1. Cut paneer into 1/2 by 1/2 inch squares.
    2. Place paneer in a deep bowl.
    3. Add 1 1/2 cup hot water.  (See note 1)

CURRY PREPARATION:

    1. Heat non-stick pan over medium high heat.  Add ghee.
    2. Once ghee is heated, add cashew.  Once cashew turns golden brown in color, take it off from the pan and place it in a plate.
    3. Add onion and cook it until it turns into a caramel color about 5 to 7 minutes.  (See Note 2)
    4. Add ginger paste, garlic paste, coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric, garam masala, and salt.  Cook for 1 minute.
    5. Add tomato puree.  Cook for 1 minute.
    6. Transfer curry mix to a deep bowl, add the cashew,  and using an immersion blender, blend the mixture into a fine paste.  The finer the paste, the better and creamier your sauce will be.  Alternatively, you can use a blender to blend and puree the ingredients.
    7. Return the paste into the pan and add 1 cup of water.
    8. Add the green peas and the paneer (make sure to strain it).
    9. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 5-8 minutes stirring every once in a while to make sure the sauce does not stick to the pan.
    10. Add more water to change sauce consistency.  Add more salt to taste.
    11. Serve with fresh chopped coriander.

NOTES:

    1. In my experience, adding hot water to the paneer makes it softer.
    2. Make sure that the onion is well cooked because curry made of still raw onion does not taste good.  I wait for the onion to “caramelize” before I proceed to the next steps.  Make sure to constantly stir it so that it will not stick to the pan.
    3. Some people use fresh tomatoes but I like using tomato puree because I am sure that the tomatoes they used for the puree is ripe.  Sometimes fresh tomatoes are not that ripe yet and adding them into a curry dish makes it lean towards the sour side than the sweet side the puree gives.  You can use fresh tomatoes if you want, too.  Just puree it and use the same measurement.

 

 

Triple Chocolate Mini Brownie Cups

My friend Arvi told me that she got her hands on my favorite Brownies Unlimited chocolate chip brownies.  I was drooling with jealousy but there is nowhere in this country will I be able to find something that good.  Then I remembered the wise words from Looney Tunes.  To paraphrase the “If you can’t beat them, join them.” line, “If you can’t find it, make it.”

So I did.  Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my Triple Chocolate Mini Brownie Cups.  In a very blurry photo taken at 4:30 AM.  Next time, I will do better with my baked good photos.  For now, this is the best I can do with what little energy I have.

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As we were pulling in the parking lot of Costco, I started telling my husband the story of famous bakers who studied in really good schools.  I told him that they spent thousands and thousands of dollars to learn baking techniques.  I told him that since I don’t have the time, and the money obviously, to go to culinary school, I will just experiment and keep on trying until I learn what I need to bake goodies.  He said, “But before you experiment too much, think of how much you will spend too because it can get expensive.”  So I went back to the “But culinary school will be way, way, way more expensive.”  So yes, I came home with a big bag of organic sugar and chocolate chips to last me until the holiday season.  Ladies, that is how you negotiate.  Or if that does not work, you can always go back to the “I am pregnant.”, “I just gave birth.”, “I take care of your kids.” tactic.

So why Triple Chocolate?  The brownie has a thin layer of ganache on top and decorated with chocolate chips.  Without the chocolate chips then it is just Double Chocolate.  Haha.  I know.  I am so good with naming baked goodies like that.  In fact, sometimes I feel like I can work for Margarita Fores and name her dishes.  Left-over adobo can become Twice Cooked Adobo and the Ilonggo “Laswa” can become Tropical Vegetables in Clear Shrimp Soup.  Seriously, she should hire me so I can eat all the dishes she cooks for free.

Oh and I baked these brownies in mini cups for the very important reason of not having a 9 inch pan.  So yes, I have to think of ways to negotiate with my husband to get me that pan tomorrow.

The recipe I used for this brownie is a combination of all the recipes I got when I solicited for a recipe so a big thank you for those who replied.  You’ll get a box of brownies from me.

So what is the verdict?  Well, my husband finished three pieces.  He actually likes it better without the chocolate chips but for a chocolate lover like me, anything extra chocolate in there is good.

So how do I like it?  It is good but I want the ganache to taste less dark and I want the brownies to be more gooey?  So next time, I will look for a better ganache recipe and maybe try cooking the brownies in a pan properly and cook it in less time for that gooey texture.

I know this is a long post for such a mini dessert but the brownies I just ate makes me write like I am high.

Instant Pot Masoor Dal

You know how in love I am with my Instant Pot, right?  It makes cooking lentils a lot easier for me because I get scared with the simple pressure cooker pot.  My imagination always makes me think that it will blow up and blow me up too in the process.

Dal, or dishes made of lentils, are the easiest to cook for Indians, I think.  They eat this almost every day.

I tried my luck in cooking this and made Masoor Dal which is brown lentils.  I followed this recipe from And Then She Said blog because I found it the easiest.

How did it turn out?

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I think it turned out very good.  I am still waiting for the verdict of my taste-tester who I am sure would tell me that I should have added more salt (but I hate salty food!).

The only thing I did differently is that I pressure cooked the dal for 5 more minutes because the 18 minutes the blogger wrote in the instruction was not enough to make all the grains soft.

Highly Recommended

Panda Express’ Pepper Chicken

I am not ashamed to admit that I like fast food and I crave them all the time.  You just don’t know what I would give to eat Jollibee spaghetti, chicken joy, palabok, and tuna pie now.

We watched Mamma Mia and I had to stop myself from singing along with the songs.  By doing that, I used up all my energy so I needed food.  When I am hungry, the easiest way to make me happy is to give me rice.  So we went to Panda Express.  It has been years since I last ate from Panda Express because I don’t usually go to malls but I still think their food is good.

So I tried to make their version of Pepper Chicken.

This is the recipe I followed.

That site has a lot of recipes that follow Panda Express’ menu.  I will try to make Orange Chicken next.

So here are the changes I made:

  1.  Skipped the onions because I did not have onions so I added more celery
  2.  Changed the ginger powder to real ginger but I took them out when I cooked the chicken
  3. Used vinegar and cayenne pepper instead of chili vinegar
  4. Used dark soy sauce instead of light soy sauce (like Kikkoman) that this recipe calls for so I only used 3/5 of what the recipe calls for
  5. I used a little bit of ground pepper because I did not have pepper grinder

Although what I cooked was nowhere near what Panda Express’ Pepper Chicken taste like, I still think it turned out good.  The chicken was tender and the taste was good.  Of course, this dish is best served with rice.

Highly Recommended

Chicken Macaroni Salad with Apples

Mama made this every time there was an occasion.  Even then, I was not a fan of apples.  I guess my taste in fruits is really local – santol, rambutan, indian mango – but never apples, cherries, or oranges.  The only time I liked apples was when Mama made her Chicken Macaroni Salad with Apples.

Mama did not leave a recipe so I just tried to remember what she did and what ingredients she used.  I still do not have the heart to read her notebooks so I don’t know if they are there written there or not.  So I had to ask my sister if one ingredient is there and she confirmed.

This salad is very easy to prepare.  Just mix the following:  cooked macaroni, shredded chicken, and chopped apples.  I added celery because I love celery.  Mama never added it before because it was not easy to find in our city.  Mama also had this version where she put pineapples and raisins instead of apples.  I loved that version, too.

For the dressing, add:  real mayonnaise (Hellman’s) and chopped or shredded cheese (I used Velveeta in lieu of Eden Cheese).  And here’s the secret ingredient, add sweetened condensed milk.

I like my salad to have a mix of the sour from the mayonnaise, salty from the cheese, and sweet from the milk.

I love it.  I can eat it all day long.  And it’s the only way I get to enjoy eating apples.

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