Paneer is an Indian cheese, similar to ricotta but drier. It is often combined with peas in a curry. This delicious version uses homemade paneer, which is simple to make. The cheese is also high in protein, making it a useful meat substitute in vegetarian meals. Serve the curry with basmati rice and steamed fresh carrots for colour.
First, make the paneer. Pour the milk into a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low and add the lemon juice. Stir until the milk separates into curds and whey, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
Line a large sieve or colander with cheesecloth, or a clean, tight-knit dishcloth, and set over a large bowl. Pour in the milk mixture. Leave to drain until cool, about 15 minutes. Bring together the corners of the cloth to make a bundle containing the drained curds. Squeeze them, then leave to drain until all the whey has dripped through the sieve into the bowl, about 30 minutes. Reserve 1 cup (250 ml) of the whey.
Keeping the curds wrapped in the cloth, place on a board. Set another board on top and press down to flatten the ball shape into an oblong block. Place cans or weights on top and leave in a cool place until firm, about 3 hours.
Carefully peel off the cloth and cut the cheese into 1-in. (2.5-cm) squares. Heat 1 tsp (5 mL) of the oil in a large non-stick skillet and cook the paneer until golden, about 1 to 2 minutes on each side. As the pieces are browned, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
For the curry, heat the remaining 1 tsp (5 ml) oil in the pan. Add the onion and cook gently until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger, and cook gently for 1 minute, then stir in the chili, coriander and cumin seeds, turmeric and garam masala. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the tomatoes, the reserved whey and a pinch of salt, and stir well to mix. Cover and cook gently for 5 minutes.
Add the peas and bring back to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the spinach, stirring it in gently so as not to break up the tomatoes too much. Simmer until the spinach has just wilted and the peas are hot and tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in most of the chopped cilantro, then transfer the curry to a serving dish and scatter the paneer on top. Spoon the curry gently over the paneer to warm it, then sprinkle with the rest of the cilantro and serve.
Each serving provides calories 200, calories from fat 54, fat 6 g, saturated fat 4 g, cholesterol 51 mg, carbohydrate 20 g, fibre 4 g, sugars 10 g, protein 21 g. Choices per serving: Carbohydrate 1, Meat & Alternatives 2