Apart from the obvious 35lbs of sweets, guess what else I carried back from India? 40lbs of mud and stones!! Don’t believe me? Wait till you see my future posts where I plan to flaunt all my new acquisitions as subtle props in my pictures. You can’t even begin to fathom how happy I’ve been ever since each and every piece of them arrived into my kitchen untarnished to its last element! My mother frowned as I packed the 10 kgs of earthen pans and the 5 kgs of granite. What are you going to use them for? she grumbled. Like she didn’t know *eyes rolling*. Of course from now on I’m going to cook ALL my meen curries in the meen chattis and all my pounding will happen with the granite mortar and pestle. I have to admit (though reluctantly), my mother’s concerns are not totally baseless. I tend to go overboard at times. While people carry fine silks and jewelry back from India, I carried 5 kgs of copper khadais, cast iron unniappam pan, a brass idiyappam press, chirattas for puttu etc etc, apart form these mud and stones. I know I can’t fool anybody let alone my mother when I say I plan to use them all. But, like I’ve said before, I love to make sure my kitchen is well provided with all the right contraptions, lest I fall under the category of the ‘inexperienced’ and the ‘ill-equipped’.
The mortar and the pestle till date is the best addition into my kitchen(Thank you, Sophie!). I don’t know if you have noticed in some of my older pictures, I do have a tiny one already, made of brass. My mother had gotten that made when I moved to California as a new bride. But today I’m proud to say that my cooking and my kitchen have out grown that size. YES, Ma! I do cook. I do cook much more than you think I do!! (argghh, Mothers! You can’t live with them. You can’t live without them!). This morning as I made Roy’s favorite Mutter Paneer, I had my spices pounded in a second and my cashew nuts ground in a jiffy all the while singing a Bollywood number that I’d recently picked up from my trip. Yes, singing at 6:45 in the AM. Can you believe that? Only because I didn’t have to fish out the Magic Bullet and its ever so many accessories from my drawer of ‘gadget confusion’, plug it in, shake it up and down and waste valuable 15 minutes of the ‘morning panic’ just to grind a tsp of spices and 5 cashew nuts. Ma, I’m veRRRRy glad I carried the stones!!!!
14 oz of paneer/cottage cheese
2 cups of shelled peas
1 large onion chopped very fine
3 tomatoes pureed
1 &1/2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp roasted cumin powder
1/2 tsp 3 Cs spice mix
1 star anise
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 green chilies chopped fine
1 tsp kashmiri mirch/paprika
3 tbsp heavy cream
5 –6 whole cashew nuts
1 tsp kastoori methi /dried fenugreek leaves
1 tbsp chopped cilantro for garnish
2 –3 tbsp of refined oil
Cut the paneer into slabs (not cubes) and toast them on both sides in a non stick pan in 1 tbsp of oil. Make sure you don’t over do it. Both the sides should have just a slight hint of brown to bring out the nutty flavor of the paneer.
When all the slabs of paneer are toasted cut them up into small cubes, sprinkle a little salt and set aside.
Toast the cashew nuts, pound them to a fine powder and keep aside
Heat a tbsp of refined oil, add star anise and cumin and sauté for a minute.
Add in the chopped onions, sauté till golden brown
Add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for a minute
Add salt, chilies, turmeric, coriander, spice mix, powdered cashew nuts and tomato puree and sauté till the oil comes clear.
Add peas and kastoori methi and sauté till the peas cook.
Stir in the paneer cubes and let it boil for a couple of minutes till it all comes together.
Take off the flame. Garnish with heavy cream and cilantro
Serve hot with Indian Breads .