Thursday, January 20

Divide - {Mutter Paneer}

Defiantly reorienting beneath my weight, my shoes finagle their way into the predetermined path lain in the snow. Constructed of what may as well be rock, previously-taken steps cut through what was once a pristine plot of white snow; perfection’s fissure.


I take full credit for the engraved steps in front of this apartment complex, remembering the day after the first snow in which I found myself too tired to properly approach the building via sidewalk. After a twenty minute walk through what I would consider a blizzard, a defenseless expanse of snow was the last thing that would stop me from a hastier respite in a warm building.

And so, I lifted my objecting legs into the fluff and shuffled triumphantly within. Soaked from the heels up, my heavy jeans collected flakes as I messily divided the billowy white covering. A pile to my left and a pile to my right; behind me a wake of chaos and disorder, as if a boat had somehow permanently disturbed the placid surface of a lake. Up to this point, midway through the courtyard, there had been no thoughts in my head besides the simple innate desire for warmth and shelter from the falling haze. But suddenly, noticing the wake behind me as I shifted my weight from one foot to the next, I felt a tinge of guilt.


Destroying the once undisturbed covering seemed quite like a sin at that moment, as if harassing it with my feet was something I would be punished for at a later time. I realize that it’s just snow (at best, frozen water), but I felt, somehow, that it was not mine to destroy. I had taken the same short-cut across the grass in warmer months, but without the springy vitality of the blades, it suddenly seemed altogether wrong. And yet, finding myself halfway through, there wasn’t much I could do in the way of erasing my path.

So, I continued, contemplating my actions and eventually coming to the conclusion that I was not in the wrong. As I completed my final stride with a satisfying thud on the doorstep, I imagined my handiwork - an unintentional and nature-made trail of breadcrumbs – newly and comfortably sprawled out behind me. With solid shoes and a poorly thought out plan, I decided that my feet had paved the way for many tired soles behind me, allowing for attempted matched steps or simple permission to cross the snow.

As the days passed, the path widened. Remaining pronounced despite the continuous downfall of snow, it was clear that it was being appropriately employed.

One day it turned to slush and threatened to disappear.


The next it froze into a solid block of continuous grey, mimicking rock and crushed pavement.

And on that day, dear reader; being faced with strong winds, numb extremities and burning cheeks; I thanked myself for being, at times, rash and inconsiderate. Because coming in from the cold is one of the best feelings there is.

Mutter Paneer via P
Warm yourself up with a bowl of this Mutter Paneer! This loose curry warms you with both the burn of serranos and its gentle warmth over a serving of rice.
Printable Recipe

Paneer
It is not necessary to make the paneer from scratch as it can certainly be purchased from international markets or grocery stores with well-stocked international sections. Making it at home is just more fun!

1 gal whole milk
1/4 c lemon juice

Bring the milk just to a boil, then reduce heat. When all bubbles have disappeared, add the lemon juice and let set 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until large curds develop. Pour into a colander over a large bowl lined with a double layer of cheesecloth. Fold the cheesecloth over the curds and place a plate topped with heavy cans on top to press out the whey. Allow to drain for 1 hour. Squeeze the curds well, then tightly rework the cheesecloth. Allow to drain in the refrigerator overnight before using. Makes approximately 1 lb 10 oz of paneer.

1/4 c mustard oil or vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds, whole
1 tsp whole coriander, crushed lightly with hands
1 1/2 c chopped red onion
1 tsp salt
2 serranos (you might want to use less if you don't like spicy food)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1” knob ginger, minced
1 (15oz) can tomato sauce
1 Tbls tomato paste
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cayenne, or less to taste
1 tsp turmeric
3-4 c water or stock of choice
3 c peas
1 lb paneer, cubed + pan fried, if desired

Place oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds and coriander, then cook until they pop, about 3 minutes. Add in the onion and salt, stirring constantly and cooking until well-browned, but not burned, about 15-20 minutes. If necessary, pour in a few tablespoons of water to deglaze and prevent sticking while cooking. After the onions are cooked, turn the heat down to medium and add the jalapenos, ginger and garlic to the pan. Cook about five minutes, being very careful not to burn. Pour in the tomato sauce and paste, then sprinkle in the garam masala, cayenne and turmeric. Stir to incorporate, then cook 3-5 minutes to caramelize the tomato sugars. Pour in the water (to desired consistency), peas and paneer, then cook for one minute longer. Adjust seasonings if desired and serve over rice.

73 comments:

  1. Your blog reads like a good book. I cant wait for the next chapter! :)

    And of course, your recipes and pictures are stunning.

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  2. This looks so good! I've made a few curries before, and I always love how the spice heat combines with the temperature heat. Love it!

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  3. I am making this THIS WEEKEND. So amazing, I can't wait to dig in! And, of course, totally going to make paneer!

    I have a sort of perverted joy that wells up in me every time I get to plow through an undisturbed field of snow, snow covered street, etc. Maybe it's because I'm from Kentucky and I don't get a ton of snow...Living in New York I certainly got plenty of snow, but I rarely rose early enough to be the first at it.

    Yay snow! :)

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  4. I hate messing up fresh fallen snow, it always looks so amazing. I love overnight snowstorms and going out at 3am and seeing all the roads covered before the trucks come and cars drive through, and before people shovel their walks. It's my favorite part of winter.

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  5. My soups never photograph as beautifully as this! So colorful! This soup sounds delicious any day but especially on yucky gray winter days such as today :)

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  6. Such a great story and meal. Great post!

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  7. Love this recipe and your site looks great!

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  8. I LOVE THIS SO MUCH!

    Looks beautiful. If you like paneer, you should totally check out the blog Ko Rasoi. Sanjana is like, the High Empress of Paneer.

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  9. Totally lush! I really enjoyed your entry and descriptions and a warming curry based dish was just what needed to follow it!

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  10. Hey Kaitlin, I made this last night (my first attempt at Indian food!) and it turned out splendidly! I think there is a typo in the ingredients list though--it says "5 cloves of garlic and a knob of garlic" and I think it was supposed to say "5 cloves of garlic and a knob of ginger root." It was great though :)

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  11. Thank you for your kind comments, guys!

    @Stella: Haha - I can see those without frequent exposure to it falling into two camps: people who feel the need to savor it by letting it be, and those who savor it by destroying it. I can't blame you for falling into the second group ;)

    @Ryan: It is a beautiful thing to see. I especially like going out after ice storms and seeing ice everywhere. So beautiful!

    @apiciusapprentice: Thanks! It was a bit of a challenge to get it looking the way I wanted, but I found this very informative post on food styling to be helpful!

    @Mr. P: Thanks for the tip! That is one tasty-looking site!

    @Amanda: I am so glad that it worked out well and super happy to hear that someone tried it! Also, thanks so much for catching my typo. Oops!

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  12. Kaitlin, what a wonderful read. I was virtually stamping the snow impatiently with you, freezing from the bitter cold. Just read an article in the paper today that said a good Indian curry is perfect for the cold, and is even great to beat the flu. I love how you've elevated the simple matar-paneer to such a beautiful level! Ready to dive in now!!

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  13. Not only is it more fun to make paneer, it also tastes wonderful. The paneer I've made is outstanding compared to even some of my favorite Indian restaurants, and is at least as good as my absolute favorite.

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  14. I never have made paneer at home before. Who knew it would be so easy? I think I know what my next project is going to be!

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  15. What a great visual you've given us of tramping through the bitter cold of sleety snow, I can imagine just getting to the warm of inside the house would be such a big goal. I've not made paneer before, so this sounds so good., thanks for sharing :)

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  16. Kaitlin, great recipe. And I love all your descriptive writing on the snow-beautiful! Glad to see on Facebook. I just Liked you. :)

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  17. That looks so amazing! Just saw a video of you on Martha Stewart baking the rainbow cake! Definitely on my to-bake list. I'm just starting this whole blogging and cooking/baking thing, I'd appreciate if you could check out my site: fridayswithcoco.blogspot.com (or click on my name) THANKS :)

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  18. Thank you so much! I like that you guys actually like my stories... I always feel kind of funny writing them!

    @Jenny: I totally agree with you! It tasted awesome!

    @Dana: I definitely encourage you to give it a shot. It's not hard at all!

    @Naomi: Likewise! I liked you back ;)

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Thanks so much for reading! I would love to hear your thoughts!

If you have any questions, please feel free to email them to me at kaitlin@whisk-kid.com.

Have a great day!