The wonder of traditional Indian cooking is that it uses the simplest of ingredients and pretty standard spices to create amazing flavours. The trick lies in choosing the right blend of spices and also in introducing them during specific phases of the cooking process. Another ingredient that contributes enormously to the overall flavour is the use of rich, golden cold-pressed Mustard Oil. Unlike many other tasteless oils that merely serve to cook the food, Mustard Oil has a characteristic warmth, pungency and flavour that add a completely different dimension to the flavour and the aroma of the food being prepared.
The dish we are making today is a preparation of potatoes, Indian cottage cheese and tomatoes in rich, spicy gravy brought to life by the zing of Mustard Oil. The dish is a traditional north Indian recipe called Aloo Paneer Tamatar Ka Jhol.
Let’s put together the ingredients that you will require.
Potatoes (Aloo): 2, large
Indian Cottage Cheese (Paneer): 250 grams
Tomatoes (Tamatar): 3
Ginger (Adrak), grated: 2 teaspoons
Garlic (Lasun): 4 cloves
Mustard Oil: 100 millilitres
Black Cardamom (Elaichi): 1
Green Cardamoms (Elaichi): 3
Cinnamon (Dalchini): 1 one-inch stick
Cloves (Laung): 3
Green Chilli: 1
Turmeric (Haldi) Powder: 3 teaspoons
Cumin (Jeera) Powder: 1 teaspoon
Cumin (Jeera) Seeds: 1 teaspoon
Coriander (Dhania) Powder: 1 teaspoon
Coriander (Dhania) Leaves: 1 tablespoon
Asafoetida (Heeng): Just a pinch
Red Chilli Powder: 2 teaspoons
Milk: 3 tablespoons
Butter: 1 tablespoon
Salt: to taste
The quantities mentioned above are for preparing four servings. Adjust the quantities proportionately to suit the number of servings that you require.
Peel, wash and boil the potatoes till they are partially done. Drain the water and let the potatoes cool down. Then cut them into small cubes and keep aside.
Cut the Paneer into small cubes.
Chop the tomatoes into small pieces.
Peel, wash and finely chop the onion.
Peel, wash and crush the garlic cloves into a coarse paste.
Finely chop the green chilli.
Coarsely chop the coriander leaves.
Place the potato pieces in a mixing bowl and add a teaspoon of turmeric powder, a teaspoon of red chilli powder, a teaspoon of Mustard Oil and salt. Mix well. Let the potato pieces marinate for around 20 minutes.
In another mixing bowl, take the Paneer pieces and add a teaspoon of turmeric powder, a teaspoon of red chilli powder, a teaspoon of Mustard Oil and salt. Mix well. Let the Paneer marinate for around 20 minutes.
Let’s begin by making the gravy for your dish.
Heat the Mustard Oil in a pan on a High flame. After heating for a while, the oil will reach its Smoking Point. Streams of white mustard-scented smoke will rise from the surface of the hot oil. When this happens, reduce the flame to Medium.
Add the marinated potato pieces to the hot oil and fry till the pieces take on a golden brown colour. When this is done, remove all the potato pieces from the oil and keep aside.
To the same oil add the marinated Paneer pieces and fry for around three minutes. Then remove the Paneer pieces from the oil and keep aside.
Add the black cardamom, green cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves and cumin seeds to the hot oil and sauté.
When the cumin seeds start to splutter, add the onion and sauté till the onion pieces turn golden brown in colour.
Next, add the grated ginger, garlic paste and green chilli, and continue to sauté.
Add the remaining teaspoon of turmeric powder along with the cumin powder, coriander powder and asafoetida. Stir to mix all the spices well.
Now add the tomatoes along with a little water. Reduce the flame to Low and let the contents of the pan simmer for around four minutes.
Next, add the milk and the butter. Cook for around three minutes stirring gently. Then add the fried potato pieces and the fried Paneer cubes. Allow the contents to simmer for another three minutes or so. Then turn the flame off.
Transfer the contents of the pan to a serving dish and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
Your traditional Aloo Paneer Tamatar Ka Jhol is now ready to be served. This dish is usually eaten with steaming hot rice or Jeera Rice – and also with Pulao on special occasions. Simple vegetables – grand feast!
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