Curry with Peas and Fresh Cheese

In this classic Punjabi dish, peas and chunks of the fresh Indian cheese known as paneer are bathed in a spiced tomato-based gravy. Many restaurants enrich the dish with a lashing of cream.

Curry with Peas and Fresh Cheese
In this classic Punjabi dish, peas and chunks of the fresh Indian cheese known as paneer are bathed in a spiced tomato-based gravy.
Yield: serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (4") piece peeled ginger, half of it coarsely chopped, half julienned
  • 6 Tbsp. ghee or clarified butter
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin seeds
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 (3") cinnamon stick
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. kashmiri red chile powder or paprika
  • 5 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 12 lb. paneer (Indian fresh cheese), 1 1⁄4 lbs. cut into 1⁄2" cubes, 1⁄4 lb. crumbled
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 Tbsp. garam masala
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro leaves

Instructions

  1. Purée garlic, chopped ginger, and 1⁄4 cup water to a coarse paste in a blender; set aside. Heat ghee in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add cumin, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until just browned, 7–8 minutes. Add ginger paste, turmeric, and chile powder and cook, stirring occasionally, until ghee separates from the paste, about 3–4 minutes. Stir in chopped tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until brick red and thickened, 12–14 minutes. Add 1 quart water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened, 10–15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, fry paneer cubes, gently turning once or twice, until lightly browned, 2–3 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cubes to a paper towel–lined plate.
  3. Add paneer cubes, peas, garam masala, and salt to pot and stir to combine. Heat through, 1–2 minutes more. Garnish with julienned ginger, crumbled paneer, and cilantro.