Sunday, February 8, 2009

Paneer with Tomatoes and Ninja Kale

We made this recipe from Mangoes and Curry Leaves several times with moderately tasty results before we read the ingredient list closely. Where we had been throwing in the typical 2 cloves of garlic, it calls for a full 1/2 cup -- and not just one onion, but three! We tried it again with the full dose of garlic and onions and were delighted with the spicy, filling results, not at all like the curried marinara sauce we had ended up with before. We kept tinkering with cooking methods (the original recipe takes all evening to make) and have finally arrived at the best variation yet, one that gives you a full serving of kale, so stealthily slipped in among strong flavors that you'll never know what hit you.

3 cups pureed canned tomatoes (or 2 pounds fresh)
1 pound paneer
canola oil or ghee
1 chopped onion (or go ahead and try three!)
1 full head of garlic, peeled and minced
3 inches of ginger, minced
2 small thai chilis, left whole
6 leaves of dinosaur kale or three leaves of collard greens, sliced into thin ribbons
5 green cardamom pods, smashed
2 cloves
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon of smoked Spanish paprika
Salt and black pepper to taste

Slice the paneer into 1/2 inch rectangles. Arrange the paneer on a well-greased pan, and drizzle some extra oil over the top. Broil for about five minutes, or until the tops of the paneer rectangles look like toasted marshmallows. Flip and repeat on the other side. Set the paneer aside to cool. (I prefer to chop my paneer slices into bite-sized squares once they are cool enough to touch, but you can also leave them whole.)

Heat 1/3 cup of oil or ghee in a large wok over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add the garlic and ginger and continue frying until the onions and garlic are golden and fragrant. Add the tomatoes and one cup of water. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low, and add the kale, paneer and spices. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. You may want to add a little cayenne to boost the spiciness. Serve with cardamom-scented rice or spinach parathas.

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