In this month of vegetarianism, paneer has become one of my saviours. In actual fact, I didn’t love paneer at all the first time I tried it, but over the past few weeks I’ve really enjoyed it in a number of dishes. I initially found it quite tasteless, which if we’re being honest, it kind of is! But what this amazing cheese is truly great at doing is taking on the tasty flavours which surround it, and here’s a dish where it does just that!
Bhuna is probably one of my favourite curries. I love the amount of chilli and spice, and the thick chunky tomato sauce that it comes with. Although a traditional bhuna would be meat based, with the meat being fried in the spices to develop a rich tasting base, I think paneer is a pretty great veggie alternative which feels a little lighter to the original versions.
Through this month of being a vegetarian my hope was to find a range of veggie dishes that I would not only enjoy during January, but would also want to cook all year round. Here’s one that will be on the menu from now on!
1 tbsp vegetable oil
225g paneer, cut into chunks
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 onion, sliced
1 red chilli, finely sliced
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
4 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
Half tsp turmeric
Half tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp paprika, plus extra for dusting paneer
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander
Freshly chopped coriander
Serve with basmati rice
Sprinkle salt and a little paprika over the chunks of paneer ensuring they are well seasoned and coated evenly.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over a medium to high heat, and then carefully add the paneer. Fry until slightly browned and crispy and then remove and set to one side. You may need to do this in batches.
Add the onion to the pan and fry over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for around 5 minutes, or until starting to soften and brown slightly.
Add the garlic, fresh chilli and ginger, mix well, and cook for a further minute or two before adding in all the spices. Mix well and fry for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pour in the roughly chopped tomatoes and around 100ml of water, season with salt and stir. Cover and bring to a boil. Stir every now and then until the sauce becomes nice and thick.
Once the sauce is thick add the paneer back into the pan and coat with the sauce. Leave to cook uncovered for around 5 minutes, or until the paneer is heated through, and then mix through a generous amount of freshly chopped coriander.
Serve with basmati rice and with a scattering of chilli flakes on top and a little extra fresh coriander.