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.

 

 

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

The Spaghetti Travesty

I saw an ad of Jollibee spaghetti and I got so jealous I vowed to myself to make the best Filipino spaghetti this side of the earth.

But yeah, how can I?  How can I when I cannot even find Filipino hotdog?  That red, chemical-laden, with God-knows-what-ingredients is considered a treat for Filipino kids and we grew up loving that.  Filipino spaghetti is not good without Filipino hotdog.

But I was hungry and I wanted spaghetti so I just cooked what I call, after seeing it, Spaghetti Travesty.

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Sure, the noodles were al dente but remember all those articles that say that in Italy, the birthplace of spaghetti, this dish should not swim in sauce?  So it is a travesty for us non-Italians to cook it swimming in red, white, or a mixture-of-both sauce.  But I am a Filipino by heart and our spaghetti has lots and lots of sauce.

Another thing, I use milk when I cook spaghetti.  Do.not.cringe.  Or make that fake vomit sound.  My mother would always cook this dish with Alpine – a full cream reconstituted milk available in the Philippines.  I don’t even know what reconstituted milk is.  All I know is Alpine is delicious.  My mother would put some in her spaghetti, straight from the can, without any measurement, and the rest goes to us kids who were eagerly waiting for whatever’s left.

My spaghetti may not be cooked right the Italian way but in the world we live in now where fusion is the way to go, there is now a very, very thin line on what is wrong or right in terms of cooking.

Maybe all these Asian Fusion, Italian-Mexican fusion, and all other fashion (fas-yon) fusions, is a start of a peaceful world.  I don’t know about you but if we can mix different cuisines and create wonderful masterpieces, it is possible for different cultures to mix too, right?

I leave that food for thought to you.  As for me, I’m going to gobble down this spaghetti with milk because I know it will not taste like travesty in my mouth.  It will be a wonderful fusion of flavor.

65 Books,

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This year, I am challenging my self to read 65 books.

I choose 65 because it was Mama’s age when she died.

Each of the 65 books that I will read will be my homage to her.

I always tell people that I find people who don’t read books boring.  I know, I am a snob.

But I think books are the most wonderful thing in this world.

How else can we live the lives of others if we don’t read?

How else can we travel to exotic places?

How else can our minds grow, our ideas come to life, and ourselves to be inspired if we don’t read?

I pray that in the 65 books that I will choose this year, there will be stories or lines that will remind me of my mom.  I hope the lines I will read will let me remember all the lessons she taught me.  I hope to cry, to finally cry uncontrollably to release all the pain that still doesn’t want to come out of me.  I hope to smile, to laugh, and to remember.

I hope that all the 65 books will be able to do that.

If not, there’s always next year.

You Learn

Because my little girl told me that she would want to be Moana, the newest Disney princess, for her English class impersonation task.

And because I cannot get mad at her for asking for a costume even if this activity is just for their classroom, I said I will make her one.  You see, I absolutely have no right to be mad in this regard because I was the one who taught her to do her best in every task however small that is.

So I went to the mall, bought cloth and sewing kit and armed with confidence coming from the much abused line “If others can do it, why can’t I?” that is forever stuck in my head, I learned how to sew.

So after an hour of snipping, stitching, sewing (or whatever my attempt is called), and a lot of praying, I was able to make a Moana costume or something to that effect.

It’s not perfect but I know it will make my little girl happy so mission accomplished.

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I think this is how life is supposed to be.  When you absolutely are left with little choice, you learn.

You learn to cook when you’re hungry.

You learn to lead when your group needs you.

You learn to let go when things are no longer healthy.

You learn to move on when someone leaves.

And you learn to sew when your little girl needs a Moana costume.

Just like the song in Alanis’ Jagged Little Pill, you live, you learn.