Paneer Kaalimirch

The best part of being a food blogger, I believe, is the sudden association that happens with so many like-minded people. You may or may not have met them in real life but they form such an integral part of your virtual existence. The food bloggers' community is a very tightly-knit one. We are always there for each other — cooking, chronicling, sharing, helping and inspiring. What is even more heartening is when they mail you/inbox you/comment on your post to shower those praises and drop in that word of appreciation which invigorates you to no end. A few months back, I got such a message from Jayati di, who had so many kind words to say about my work that it actually choked me a great deal. Jayati Saha of Jayati's Food Journey, or our very own Jayati di, is the star of this week's Know Your Blogger. And star she is, because she's quite a superwoman juggling her busy life as a senior project manager in one of the top corporate houses, her family and of course her blog (which she started at the insistence of her enthusiastic son) with is such a treasure trove of marvellous recipes.
What I love most about Jayati di's blog is her red meat recipes, and ever since Kolkata Food Bloggers announced this event I knew it was one of her pork dishes that I'd try out. But misfortune strikes at all the wrong times. So the day I went to get the pork, the shop was shut. The following day was a Thursday which in Calcutta, is a dry day in so far as red meat is concerned. I had an event to attend on Friday which would be followed by a busy weekend balancing work and play. I generally am not the type to keep things pending till the last minute so I decided to not waste time and cook up one of her trusted paneer recipes. And wasn't I happy I did that! I'm calling it Paneer Kaalimirch as opposed to her Dum Paneer Kaalimirch because I didn't cook it on dum, but mindblowing it turned out to be nonetheless. I used all the ingredients she mentioned, but with my habit of getting carried away by spices, I don't exactly remember whether I stuck to the measurements or not. Do check the original recipe here.
Serves: 4
Ingredients:

Paneer/Cottage cheese, cubed: 250 gm
Onions, finely sliced: 2
Oil: 3 tbsp (I used olive oil)
Garlic, chopped: 2 tbsp
Ginger, chopped: 1 tbsp
Green chillies: 4
Bay leaf: 1
Cinnamon stick: 1
Green cardamoms: 3-4
Black Cardamom: 1
Cloves: 3-4
Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp
Peppercorns: 1 tsp
Coriander powder: 1.5 tsp
Cumin powder: 1 teaspoon
Garam masala powder: 1 tsp
Yoghurt, whisked: 1 cup
Cream/Milk: 4 tbsp
Fresh mint leaves, finely chopped: 2 tbsp (I used 1 tsp dried as I didn't have fresh mint)
Salt, to taste
Pepper powder: 3/4 tsp
Sugar: 1 + 1 tsp
Ghee: 1 tbsp

Method:

1. Make a paste of the ginger, garlic and chillies. Set aside. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a nonstick pan and fry the onions till brown. You can add a tsp of sugar if you want to because it gives that rich caramelisation. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, grind into a fine paste with a little water.

2. In the same pan, add another tbsp of oil and lightly fry the paneer cubes. Sprinkle some salt over them as you fry. Once done, tip them into a bowl filled with lukewarm water. This helps to keep the paneer soft till used.

3. In the same pan, add the final tbsp of oil and once that heats up add bay leaf, cinnamon, green and black cardamoms, cloves, cumin and peppercorn to the pan and sauté till they release aroma.

4. Add ginger-garlic-green chilli paste and browned onion paste and mix well. Continue sautéing for 2-3 minutes. Now add the whisked yoghurt and season with salt and pepper. Add coriander powder, cumin powder and garam masala powder and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer covered for 2-3 minutes.

5. Add paneer, mix well Add cream/milk and bring the mixture to a boil. Again lower the heat, cover the pan with a heavy lid and simmer for 15 minutes.

6. Add a little sugar, some more black pepper powder and mint leaves. Stir in a tbsp of ghee and serve hot with roti/naan/paratha.
I am sending this post to Kolkata Food Bloggers' event Know Your Blogger
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