Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Dinner

My mom was out volunteering yesterday, so A and I had the afternoon to cook ourselves a Valentine's Day dinner. We made another curry from Vij's cookbook and we also tried making paneer from scratch. Both were really delicious and surprisingly easy to make.

We ate the paneer with some leftover sauce from the beef short ribs we made the other day. I'm not sure I love the combination, so next time we'll try it with a different sauce that better compliments the paneer.

I also made a tart for dessert, but I'll post that separately.

Vij Family's Chicken Curry
Adapted from Vij's Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine
Yield: 6 servings
Print recipe

1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 3-inch piece of cinnamon bark
3 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
3 lbs chicken thighs (we used drumsticks)
1 cup sour cream
2 cups water
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

  1. In a large pot, heat oil on medium heat for 1 minute.

  2. Add onions and cinnamon and saute for 5 to 8 minutes, until onions are golden.

  3. Add garlic and saute for another 2 minutes.

  4. Add ginger, tomatoes, salt, black pepper, turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala, and cayenne. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the oil separates from the masala.

  5. Remove and discard skin from the chicken thighs. Wash thighs and add them to the masala. Stir well.

  6. Cook thighs for 10 minutes, until chicken looks cooked on the outside.

  7. Add sour cream and water. Stir well.

  8. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring curry to a boil.

  9. Reduce heat to medium, and cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is completely cooked.

  10. Peel the chicken meat off the bones and stir the meat back into the curry.

  11. Just before serving, bring the curry to a light boil on medium heat.

  12. Stir in cilantro.

  13. Serve with plain basmati rice.

Adapted from Vij's Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine
Yield: 1 1/2 lbs
Print recipe

1/4 cup water
4 L whole milk
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/3 cup white vinegar
3 squares of cheesecloth, each 2ft x 2ft

  1. Place water in a large heavy-bottomed pan.

  2. Slowly add milk, then stir in sugar.

  3. Turn the heat to medium and bring the milk to a boil. (We scorched the bottom of the pan and were later told that the way to prevent it is to stir, stir, stir!)

  4. Just as the milk rises, but before it spills over the side of the pot, add vinegar and turn off the heat. The milk will stop rising, and solids will begin to separate from the liquid. Wait 5 minutes until the liquid is completely separated from the solids.

  5. Line a fine-mesh sieve with triple-layered chessecloth and place it in the sink.

  6. Strain the milk mixture through the cheesecloth, leaving the paneer in the sieve for about 5 minutes to drain completely.

  7. Using your hands, gather the edges of the cheesecloth, bringing them togther above the paneer. Enclose paneer tightly in the cheesecloth by twisting the gathered edges against the paneer to seal out any air. Tie the gathered ends into a double knot.

  8. Place wrapped paneer on a large plate with a weight on top to flatten the paneer to about 2 inches thick, pressing out any remaining water. Allow paneer to sit for 1 hour.

  9. Unwrap paneer and place on clean plate. With a large sharp knife, cut paneer as desired.

  10. Can be used right away or can be kept, uncut and tightly sealed, in plastic wrap or resealable plastic bag, refrigerated for up to 4 days.

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