Monday, 21 January 2013

Indo-Chinese not so chilli paneer

I had been hankering after a dish I've had in a couple of Indian eateries which I had no idea how to begin cooking, and also I knew I'd need to calm it down for the kids, and my decreasing chilli tolerance.  I did a bit of a Google and found out it is one of the interesting and completely unique Indo-Chinese dishes I have experienced when visiting family in Calcutta.  There is a fairly large Chinese community in Calcutta, originally based in the tannery areas, and the combination of Chinese food and Bengali tastes and ingredients led to some very regionally specific dishes. This style dish is made with chicken or paneer or tofu, and is delicious and easy. It is becoming more common in some Indian (NOT the Bangladeshi type) restaurants, and would be found under the name "Chilli Paneer" and my recipe would be very easy to re-chilli.  I adapted 2 or 3 of the different recipes I found to suit my own tastes. Oh and apparently it is often cooked with green pepper, which of course I can't/don't eat, so I put sweetcorn in instead.  I'm sure other veg would work such as courgette, green beans, baby corn or whatever takes your fancy!

1 pack paneer (I use Long Clawson from the supermarket which is 227g I think)
3 or 4 cloves garlic (or 1 clove and 1 large cube frozen garlic puree)
1 inch ginger, grated (or 1 large cube frozen ginger puree - often in supermarkets with ethnic foods)
half a bunch of spring onions
1 small red onion
1 cup of frozen sweetcorn
2 tbs ketchup
2 tbs soya sauce - Kikkoman
1 tsp vinegar, malt is fine 
2 tbs groundnut oil or similar
salt, pepper, chilli flakes
1 tbs cornflour

Start off by dicing up the paneer and putting it in a dish in one layer.  Finely chop or grate 1 clove of garlic and spread over the paneer.  Season with salt, pepper and the chilli flakes to taste.  I used VERY little.

Put the cornflour in a mug and add 5 tbs of water.  Mix well and pour over the paneer, toss them around briefly and ensure it is still in one layer.  Leave to marinade for 10 minutes.

Use the 10 minutes to chop the spring onions separating the white and green parts to use separately.  Chop the red onion too.  At this point I defrosted the frozen ginger and pureed the remaining garlic also.

Now heat a nonstick frying pan or saute pan with 1 tbs of the oil and fry the paneer, reserving the marinade.  Make sure you turn the pieces so 2 or 3 sides are browned and crisp.  At this point, try not to have no one but BigUn looking after Tiny, and Tiny has a nosebleed and BigUn isn't sure what to do or your paneer might burn. Luckily, BigUn was fine...and so was Tiny, and so was the paneer...

Remove with a slotted spoonand set aside, and add the 2nd tbs of oil if needed.  Now on a lower heat, fry the red onion and the white part of the spring onion until the onion is soft and transluscent.  Now add the garlic & ginger purees and fry on a slightly higher heat until the garlic no longer smells raw.  Now add the sweetcorn (or vegetable of your desire!)  If you were wanting to spice things up, now would be a good time to add some chopped green chilli, or red chilli etc.

Add the ketchup, soy sauce and vinegar, and add the paneer back in.  Stir and coat well and add half a mug of water. Heat the sauce up and then add the marinade too.  The sauce will thicken up very quickly, but you can always thin it down or add more of any of the sauces to taste.  Add the green part of the spring onion to serve.

We had this with bought naan bread and pitta breads, it is dryish, but you could as easily toss it through some noodles.  Big Un split her pitta and stuffed it full of paneer and ate it faster than a blink! I will admit Tiny Un really didn't even try this, but he enjoyed his pitta bread.  I guess it wasn't a protein day for him! Can't win them all.  Papa loved it and said he could easily have eaten the whole panful...

So who's wondering about Littl'Un? Thank you for asking! She was at Rainbows and had had cheese on toast before hand!

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