Royal Indian feast

Jessie Made: Pudhina Paneer

Serves 6


1 gallon whole milk

¼ cup distilled white vinegar

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems

2 teaspoons Balti Masala (recipe below)

2 ½ teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt

6 tablespoons canola oil

1 cup finely chopped red onion

¼ cup tomato paste

¼ cup firmly packed fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

2 fresh green Thai chiles, stems removed, thinly sliced crosswise (including seeds)

1 cup half-and-half


1. Pour the milk into a large saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring

frequently to prevent the milk from scorching. (Watch carefully because the milk boils

over quickly and easily.) Once the milk comes to a boil, add the vinegar. Remove the

pan from the heat and set it aside until the curds separate from the thin, watery, greenish

whey, 15 to 20 seconds.

2. Line a colander with a double layer of cheesecloth, making sure there are 2 to 3 inches

hanging over the rim of the colander. Place the colander in the sink, then pour the curds

and whey into the cheesecloth and let it drain for 5 minutes.

3. Once most of the visible liquid is gone, pour the curds into a bowl and add ¼ cup of the

cilantro, the Balti Masala, and 1 ½ teaspoons of the salt. Stir to evenly incorporate and

then pour the curds back into the cheesecloth. Gather the edges of the cheesecloth over

the curds to cover them.

4. Fill a Tupperware container with water and set it on top of the wrapped cheese in the

colander. Set this aside until the cheese is firm, 3 to 5 hours.

5. Remove the weight and unwrap the now-firm cheese. (You can make the cheese up to

1 week in advance, swath it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it. You can also freeze the

block, sealed in a freezer-safe bag, for up to 2 months. Thaw the paneer in the refrigerator

before use.) Cut the paneer into slabs for frying.

6. Line a plate with several layers of paper towels.

7. Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the paneer

slabs in a single layer and cook, turning them occasionally, until all sides are honey-

brown and crispy, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer them to the paper towel lined plate to drain.

Once the paneer is cool, cut the slabs into 1” cubes.

8. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high

heat. Add the onion and stir-fry until it is light brown around the edges, 5 to 8 minutes.

9. Stir in the tomato paste, remaining ¼ cup cilantro, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, mint,

and chiles. Lower the heat to medium and simmer the thick paste, uncovered, stirring

occasionally, until there is an oily sheen on top, 2 to 4 minutes.

10. Pour in 1 cup water, stirring to make a red sauce. Add the paneer and stir once or twice.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and simmer, stirring occasionally and

gently, until the cheese cubes soak up some of the sauce and soften, 8 to 10 minutes.

11. Pour in the half-and-half and stir once or twice. Raise the heat to medium and simmer

the curry, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the creamy red sauce thickens, 8 to 10

minutes. Serve.

Balti Masala

Makes 1/3 cup


2 teaspoons fennel seeds

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon black or yellow mustard seeds

½ teaspoon whole cloves

½ teaspoon cardamom seeds from black pods

½ teaspoon nigella seeds

3 bay leaves

2 (3”) cinnamon sticks, broken into smaller pieces

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg


1. Preheat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add all the whole spices (reserving the

cayenne and nutmeg) and toast, shaking the skillet every few seconds, until the fennel,

coriander, and cumin turn reddish brown, the mustard, cloves, and cardamom turn ash-

black, the cinnamon and bay leaves appear brittle and crinkly, and the mixture is highly

fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. (The nigella will not change color.) The mustard seeds will pop

like popcorn, so you will want to have a lid handy to prevent them from flying out.

2. Immediately transfer the nutty-smelling spices to a plate to cool. (The longer they

sit in the hot skillet, the more likely it is that they will burn, making them bitter and

unpalatable.) Once they are cool to the touch, place them in a spice grinder or coffee

grinder and grind until the texture resembles that of finely ground black pepper. (If you

don’t allow the spices to cool, the ground blend will acquire unwanted moisture from the

heat, making the final blend slightly “cakey.”) The ground blend will be a deep reddish

brown and the aroma will be sweet and complex, very different from those of the pre-

toasted and post-toasted whole spices. Stir in the cayenne and nutmeg. Store the mix in a

tightly sealed container, away from excess light, heat, and humidity, for up to 2 months.

Adapted from 660 Curries

Charred Eggplant Raita

Serves 8


2 medium eggplants

1 ½ cups plain yogurt

1 small onion, finely minced

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper, to taste


1. Pierce the flesh of the eggplants with a fork in several places, then put the eggplants

underneath the broiler to char the skin. Turn the eggplants with tongs until all sides are

blackened. Place the eggplants in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until cool.

2. Once cool, peel the skin from the eggplant flesh and discard. Remove the stem. Put the

eggplant flesh in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Stir the eggplant puree into the

yogurt with the onion. Season with cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.

Adapted from


Rich made: Red lentil with Tofu Dal

2T veg. oil
2sm. onion
5 garlic cloves, minced
2t chopped fresh ginger
1c red lentils
6c water
1 pound tofu
1t cumin seeds
1t garam masala powder
1t salt
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper
6T chopped cilantro
Serve with cooked rice

Heat tablespoon oil in sauce pan over moderate heat. add onion, garlic and cook stirring until golden. add ginger stir for 1 min. add lentils and water, bring to a gentle boil, uncovered, until lentils split, about 20 min.
in meantime, rinse and trim tofu ends, press on paper towels to remove excess moisture.
when lentils are cooked, heat remaining teaspoon of oil in sauce pan,  add garam masala, salt, pepper, and cook, stirring until fragrant 15-30 seconds. stir in hot oil to lentils then stir in tofu cubes. let stand for 5 minutes, then stir in cilantro. salt to taste.


Kelli and Tore made: Aloo Gobi


1 (1 3/4-lb) head cauliflower, cut into 3/4-inch-wide florets

1 1/4 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

5 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 teaspoons minced fresh jalapeño, including seeds

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 cup water

Accompaniment: lemon wedges and cilantro


Put oven rack in upper third of oven and place a shallow baking pan on rack. Preheat oven to 475°F.  Toss cauliflower and potatoes together in a bowl with 3 tablespoons oil, cumin seeds, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread in hot baking pan and roast, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is tender and browned in spots and potatoes are just tender, about 20 minutes.

While vegetables are roasting, cook onion, garlic, jalapeño, and ginger in remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until very soft and beginning to turn golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Stir in water, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of skillet, then stir in roasted vegetables. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.


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