Nan: Sorry, no tea! I forgot to refrigerate the milk yesterday night and it’s curdled.
Sandy: Don’t worry. You’re going to make paneer (similar to cottage cheese, paneer is made by curdling milk) tonight, I suppose!
Nan: Not really. I’ve never managed to make decent homemade paneer. I’m just going it throw away the spoilt milk.
Sandy: Hey! Don’t do that. I’ll teach you to make proper paneer and a nice dish to make with it too!
And that’s how I made my first paneer bhurji some five years ago. I think it is a take on the egg bhurji (Indian version of scrambled eggs). It is versatile with regard to ingredients – you can add or subtract veggies as you like and spice it to your taste. You can prepare it as a side for rotis and parathas (Indian flatbreads). It is also a wonderful stuffing for grilled sandwich. It was a Godsend during my Bangalore days, when I would often end up with spoilt milk (and thus, paneer), having forgotten to keep the milk packets in the refrigerator.
While most dishes call for cubed paneer, the bhurji (and the paneer paratha, of course) require the paneer to be crumbled or chopped fine. This saves me from trying to set the fresh paneer into a block, something I haven’t learnt the knack of yet. I make this dish so often (that’s not to say that I end up with spoilt milk often!), I’m surprised I haven’t posted about this yet!
And, this nice and spicy (if you make it so) dish doesn’t need much oil and is packed with calcium — 100 gm of paneer has about 208 mg of calcium! I had planned this post months ago and forgot all about it. I stumbled on this draft while going through my paneer posts to see what new dish I could prepare forValli’s Blogging Marathon #19, for which I’d chosen to blog on Calcium-rich foods. And I felt this might be a good time to put this up!
Paneer – 150 gms
Onion – 1
Tomato – 2
Capsicum – 1
Green chillies – 2
Ginger – ¼ inch piece
Dry red chilli – 1 (halved)
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Red chilli powder – ½ tsp
Kitchen King/Garam masala – ¼ tsp
Kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) – ½ tsp OR a few sprigs of fresh coriander leaves
Oil – 2 tsp
Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
Crumble or finely chop paneer in case you’re using the store-bought one
Finely chop all vegetables, ginger and green chillies
Heat oil in a wide pan and add cumin seeds
Once cumin seeds crackle, add dry red chilli
When chilli turns bright red and bloats up, add ginger and green chillies
When green chillies turn white-ish, add onions and capsicum, turmeric powder and red chilli powder
Sauté for a min or two and add tomatoes when onions turn translucent
Add salt and tomatoes and sauté till they start softening
Add paneer and cook on medium heat for 3-5 mins to allow it to absorb all the flavours
Remove from heat and add kasoori methi (crushed between fingers) or coriander leaves