Paneer and chickpea masala

I’ve got oil on my ceiling.

Something I read about cooking paneer recommended frying the cheese in oil 15cm deep. It mentioned being careful, as the oil might spit when the cheese starts to release its moisture. Might was an understatement. For the love of cheese please be careful when cooking the paneer. Also if anyone knows how to get oil stains off walls and ceilings any advice would be much appreciated.

You do want to fry the paneer as the crisp edges you get give the dish nice contrasting textures. The paneer and the chickpeas together make for a very filling main dish, or you could leave one or the other out and serve as a side dish. You could also use the sauce as a base for any meat or vegetable curry.

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Serves 4 as a main, with rice or naan

  • Sunflower oil, for frying
  • 225g paneer, diced into 1.5cm cubes
  • 3 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 4cm root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2-4 fresh green chillies, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1x 400g tin of peeled plum tomatoes, blended to a smooth sauce
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 1 ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 4 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1x 400g tin of chickpeas
  • 50g unsalted butter (or ghee)
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 2 handfuls fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 120g spinach leaves

CAREFULLY fry the paneer in a little sunflower oil, turning so the cubes become golden on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and rest on some kitchen paper to drain.

Heat the groundnut oil over a medium-high heat and add the ginger, garlic, chillies and onion. Fry until the onion is golden brown, taking care not to let it catch and burn.

Add the tomatoes alongside the salt, turmeric, coriander and cumin. Stir these through and simmer for a minute before adding the chickpeas, paneer and butter. Once the butter has melted pour in 100ml of boiling water. Cover and leave to simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes.

Stir in the garam masala and fresh coriander, then add the spinach leaves and cover. You may need to add more water at this stage, depending on the thickness of your sauce. Leave for 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. You will find the spinach leaves steam under the lid and wilt into the curry.

Season to taste and serve with rice or naan bread.

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