Adventures in Curry Cooking

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My winter goal is to teach myself how to cook Indian curries. Now that it’s getting chilly outside I have started to figure things out, starting with some of my favourites; dal makhani and matar paneer.

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Punjabi Dal Makhani

1 cup black lentils
1/2 cup kidney beans
4 cups water
2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp garam masala
3 tbsp ghee
1 tsp salt
Fresh cilantro/coriander for garnish

First, rinse and soak your lentils and kidney beans overnight so they are slightly softer.

Put all ingredients into a pressure cooker and turn the heat to max. This was the first time I used a pressure cooker, which was given to me by a friend, so I was a little unsure of how to use it. It was really easy though! Check with the instructions on your pressure cooker as they may differ. The one I have is pretty straightforward; I affixed the rubber ring securely inside the lid, then made sure the lid was locked onto the pot properly. I put the weight on the top and then just let it do it’s thing.

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Once the pressure has built up inside your cooker turn the heat down and let it cook for about 30 minutes. Open the lid only when the pressure has been released from inside the cooker – I could tell mine was done because I lifted the weight off the steam nozzle thingy on the top and no steam came out. I carefully opened it and gave it a stir. The lentils were cooked but the consistency was still a bit watery and the taste was weak. At this stage I added some additional garam masala (1 tsp), ground coriander (1 tsp), ground cumin (1 tsp), a bit of salt and pepper, and 2 bay leaves. It’s all based on your preference, maybe it tastes find to you at this stage without the extra spices.

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I then turned the heat back up on the stove and let the dal cook with the lid off for about 15 minutes until it had thickened. Then dish it up topped with some cilantro/corriander leaves and you’re all done! I was really happy with how this one came out, and was surprised by how easy it was to use the pressure cooker. The recipe I used originally came from Veg Recipes of India, a great source for recipes!

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Mattar Paneer

2 cups cubed paneer
2 cups water
1/4 cup oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
2 cups chopped onions
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
1/2 cup tomato, chopped
2 cups green peas
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp ground coriander
Fresh cilantro/coriander for garnish

Using a large pan heat the oil then add the cumin seeds and bay leaves. Using a food processor, puree the onions and garlic into a paste, then add to the oil and saute until browned.

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Add the tomatoes, turmeric, garam masala, salt, coriander powder, fresh ginger and cayenne pepper to the onions and cook down.

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While the sauce is cooking, cut your paneer into cubes and deep fry until light brown. Careful not to over fry, the longer they are in the oil the crispier they become (duh) and you might want the paneer to stay semi-soft – that’s what I like, at least. You could skip this step if you don’t have a fryer, but on our first attempt of this recipe the unfried paneer became fairly mushy while cooking.

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When the sauce has cooked down it is time to add the peas and paneer. Cook until heated through and glossy.

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The final step is to add 2 cups of water and let simmer for 5-10 minutes. The first time we tried this the 2 cups of water seemed like too much and the curry was fairly runny, though the second go around I actually ended up adding 3 cups of water. Maybe add the water 1 cup at a time and simmer until it reached a consistency you like. Taste at this stage too, then you can add extra spices if necessary. I based this recipe on the one found here, though made some changes. For one, the 1 tbsp of salt was waaaay too much when I made this the second time, so I would recommend adding the salt in smaller quantities before just dumping it all in. You can always add more salt but you can’t take salt away!

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4 comments

  1. Perfect post for me! We recently went to a festival of nations where my husband and son found out they love Indian food. I plan to try both your recipes soon. But I’m not familiar with paneer. Where would I find it in the store?

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