Paneer, a fresh, mild Indian cheese, stands in for the meat in this delicious vegetarian main course. Larger peas are sometimes starchy instead of sweet and crisp.
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 pound paneer or firm or extra-firm tofu, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch cubes
- 5 tablespoons usli ghee, divided
- 1 large onion, cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 serrano chile, minced with seeds
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added purée
- 1 1/2 cups shelled fresh peas (from about 1 1/2 pounds peas in pods) or 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Paneer, a fresh cow’s milk or buffalo’s-milk cheese, and usli ghee (clarified butter; also called ghee) are sold at some natural foods stores and at Indian markets. If you can’t find paneer, then tofu, chicken, shrimp, or scallops would also work well in this recipe. Clarified butter or vegetable oil can be used in place of the ghee.
- Garam masala is a curry spice blend that’s available in the spice section of many supermarkets, at Indian markets, and from thespicehouse.com.
Place flour in medium bowl. Add paneer to bowl; toss to coat with flour. Heat 2 tablespoons ghee in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Shake excess flour from paneer; add to skillet and cook until browned in spots, turning occasionally, about 4 minutes. Transfer paneer to plate; set aside. Reserve skillet.
Place onion pieces in processor. Using on/off turns, process until finely chopped but not watery. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons ghee in reserved skillet over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and stir until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add chopped onion and cook until beginning to brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add minced ginger, minced garlic, ground coriander, and minced serrano chile with seeds; stir 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes with puree, 1/2 cup water, and turmeric; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium low; cover and simmer until mixture thickens slightly and flavors blend, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
Add shelled fresh peas and cooked paneer; gently fold to incorporate evenly. Cook mixture over medium-low heat until peas are tender and paneer is heated through, folding occasionally, about 5 minutes. Fold in garam masala and cilantro. Season curry to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with steamed basmati rice.