Mater Paneer (or Panir) is a popular dish world-wide, and probably every experienced veggie cook who is familar with Indian cuisine has their own version of it. It originates in Punjab, northern India (Vegetarian World Food, Kurma). It is generally made with fresh paneer cheese - a quick home made soft cheese which has endless uses in the Indian cuisine. For this dish it would be pressed til firm and then diced. However in this recipe I made it vegan with Steve's expert help, by using baked tofu cubes instead.
Serves about 5 generous portions. Prep & cooking time 45 mins - 1 hr.
- 12 - 15 large ripe organic tomato's, washed, chopped into large chunks and blended into a puree
- 1 pkt original firm tofu cubed small & baked in olive oil
- 1 pkt fresh green peas ( frozen works too - I just prefer fresh)
- 1 tsp tumeric
- 2-3 tbsp sea salt or to taste (better to under-salt, you can always add in more later)
- 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tsp Asaoetida (aka hing - its a great onion substitute)
- 1 handful dried Oregano herb
- 2 tbsp brown cane sugar or to taste
- 1 bunch fresh basil leaves chopped roughly
- Put Tofu cubes in oven to baked in olive at 350 degrees, til lightly tanned you may need to turn them over half way through (use a pan knife) - depends on your oven.
- Combine the fresh tomato puree, fresh peas (if you use frozen ones add them 10 mins before the end instead), tumeric, salt, pepper, asafoetida, oregano and sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook down into a thick sauce - til its about half the original volume. BTW Steve taught me a useful tip; add a whole carrot (cleaned of course) into the tomato sauce as its cooking down to help remove any bitter taste from the tomatos. He said that trick originates in Italy. . .I learn something new every time I cook!
- Add in the baked tofu cubes, lower heat and cook another 10 mins or so, the tofu will expand a little.
- Stir in the chopped fresh basil a few minutes before serving. Save some to garnish. For variation fresh cilantro is also excellent instead of basil.
- Serve hot on a bed of rice and a fresh bread of your choice - Poori's are great! Yum! :-)
- BTW its also really great with pasta...have fun experimenting with this tasty dish!