Shahi Paneer

Another great vegetarian meal!

I had never tried paneer before, but I love cheese so figured why not give it a try.  Paneer is an East Indian cheese made from coagulated whole milk and lemon juice.  It's fairly easy to make at home, or so I have heard, but I figured for our first try I would buy a pre-packaged version.  It's extremely inexpensive and can be found in most grocery stores.

I opted for the chili flake paneer, since it was on sale, and you can't go wrong with a little extra flavor.  I googled various recipes and picked the one that appealed to me.  Check it out below - the family loved it and I'm sure you will too.

Shahi Paneer
2 T oil
1 large onion sliced
4 garlic minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chilies (I used about 1 T since I like the extra spice)
4 tomatoes pureed (I used home made canned crushed tomatoes that I had prepared earlier in the week.  Very simple to do - see below for instructions)
1/2 lb paneer cubed
1/4 c water
1 tsp sugar
1/4 c cream (I used 2% milk)
2 T chopped cilantro

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook the onion & garlic 5 minutes.  Sprinkle in the seasonings and cook 30 seconds.  Pour the tomatoes in and cook until the excess liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes.  Add paneer, water, sugar and salt to the mixture.  Stir gently so that the paneer doesn't break apart.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Stir in the cream (or milk) and simmer 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.  I served this over rice, but it would also be great with warmed pitas, or over any other grain.

For the canned tomatoes, simply purchase as many fresh tomatoes as you would like (preferably from the farmer's market) and start stuffing them in large mason jars.  Use the end of a wooden spoon to push them down.  After every couple of tomatoes, add some crushed garlic, thyme, salt and pepper (or whatever other seasonings you would like - basil, oregano, etc).  Continue with tomatoes, pushing down, and seasonings until the jar is full.  Once all of your jars are full, seal them with clean lids and boil in a large pot for about 45 minutes.  Make sure you bring them to room temperature and ensure that the lids are sealed before storing them.  With this method, my family has fresh tomatoes all year round, and we purchase them when they are the cheapest and freshest.