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Matar paneer
(Peas and cheese in tomato sauce)


This simple combination of vegetables and cheese needs only a fancy rice or a hot Indian bread to make a complete meal.
You can adjust the thickness of the sauce to your taste by varying the amount of the water. Thin, it goes well with rice; thick, with chapatis.

Preparation and cooking time: 25 min

8 oz (225 g) paneer
ghee or vegetable oil for deep-frying
4 teaspoon salt
21/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoon ghee
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 or 2 fresh chillies, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
1 lb (450 g) fresh peas, shelled
2/3 cup (150 ml) water
6 tomatoes, chopped
11/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon garam masala

Knead the paneer well until it is smooth and soft. Then, form it into grape-sized balls and deep-fry them in ghee or vegetable oil until they are crisp and golden-brown. Remove them from the ghee with a slotted spoon and drop them into a solution of 3 teaspoons of salt, 2 teaspoons of turmeric, and 2 cups of warm water or whey. Let them soak while you go on to the next step.
In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the 2 tablespoons of ghee over medium heat. Then add the cumin seeds, followed by the minced chillies and grated ginger. When the cumin seeds are browned (in about 30 - 45 seconds), toss in the asafoetida, the remaining turmeric, and a few seconds later the peas. Now add the water, cover the pan, and cook the peas until they are tender. Add the tomatoes and the cheese balls. Cook over the same medium heat for 5 more minutes.
Just before serving, add a generous squeeze of lemon, and season with the remaining teaspoon of salt and the garam masala.