This recipe is one of my mom’s best vegetarian dishes. All through college, my best friend (who happens to be vegetarian) tried very hard to pursue my mom to make this as often as possible; needless to say, it was never often enough! This dish is paneer (Indian cottage cheese) cooked in a coconut and mustard sauce, a favourite of all Bengalis. Mom of course uses fresh grated coconut and fresh ground mustard paste, while I use my own cheat codes!
You will need:
- Paneer: 300 gms
- Coconut milk: 200 ml
- Mustard powder: 1 tablespoon (made into a paste ½ cup hot water)
- Mustard oil: 3 tablespoon
- Sugar: ½ teaspoon
- Turmeric: a pinch
- Salt to taste
- Green chili: 2 (optional)
Cut the paneer into 2 inch cubes (or smaller if you prefer).
In a wok, heat 2 tablespoons of mustard oil until slightly smoky.
Add the paneer pieces and fry gently on medium heat for about a minute.
Add the coconut milk, mustard paste, turmeric, sugar and salt to the paneer and simmer on medium heat for about 6-8 minutes.
Garnish with green chillies and drizzle a tablespoon of mustard oil on top.
Serve hot with steamed rice.
For homemade paneer:
- Whole milk: 1 litre
- Juice of one lemon/Vinegar: 1-2 tablespoons
(Makes about 200 gms.)
Keep a large piece of cheese cloth ready.
In a large saucepan, bring the milk to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium and add the lemon juice/a tablespoon of vinegar and stir well immediately to incorporate.
With the milk still on medium heat, stir gently and at this point the milk should begin to curdle and the yellowish whey will start to separate (if this does not happen after 2 minutes, add another tablespoon of vinegar or some more lemon juice).
Stir gently until the curds start to float on the top whey becomes almost clear and watery (although it will continue to be yellowish-green).
Line a strainer with the cheesecloth and pour the curd in. (Reserve the whey to use in soups or as marinating liquid.)
Gather the edges together and knot securely or tie with twine.
Keep it in a cool and clean place with a heavy weight on top for 45 minutes to 1 hour (a large flat bottomed saucepan filled with water works just fine).
Remove gently from cheesecloth, cut into cubes and use.