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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Panir Dil Kush

Namaste from the sacred land of Navadwipa, Bengal, India! :-)

Finally I've got time to update this blog as promised - phew! I have so much great stuff to share I hardly know where to begin! I guess I'll just plunge in and see where it goes. I've got some wonderful new recipes - both traditional Bengali style and some the result of my own experiments in the kitchen here. One of my all time favorites which I learned here is a take on Mater Panir (tomato cheese stew), but with more subtle nuances and flavor, and a little of my own tweaking. Its called Panir Dil Kush or happy cheese! :-D Its important to use fresh tomato's and the dried fenugreek leaves to retain the subtle flavor of this delectable dish. The panir can be store bought or even better - make your own.
Panir Dil Kush

10 firm ripe fresh tomatos washed
1/2 kg of firmly pressed panir cubed small
1 heaped tsp Kasturi methi leaves (dried fenugreek leaves)
1/2 - 1 tsp of coriander powder
1/2 - 1 tsp cumin powder
2 - 3 tsp salt or to taste
3 tsp ginger paste (freshly ground ginger root)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp tumeric powder
2-3 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
1 pot of hot salted water
1 pot of plain water

*Add tomatos to the pot of plain hot water and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer for 20 mins to cook
the tomatos and also split and loosen their skins. Strain the water off the tomatos and place into a
bowl of cold water. Watch out - they are boiling hot! 

*Put panir cubes into the pot of hot salted water and allow to boil on a medium low flame for about 15 min.
The panir will expand slightly. It should change consistency from dense and firm to soft and spongy, yet
retain its shape without breaking.

*While the panir is cooking remove the skins and the green centers from the tomatos. Place in a blender
jug together with ginger paste, pepper, tumeric and salt and blend into a smooth sauce.

*Strain water off the panir and set aside.

*In a thick bottomed wok heat the ghee. Taking the methi leaves in your hands crush it up between palms and crumble into the hot ghee, then quickly add cumin and coriander powder. Be very careful - the flavor
will be ruined if its burnt. Turn off the heat if necessary - it only needs a few seconds!

*Pour in the tomato sauce - it will look like a volcanic eruption for a minute! :-D Cook for 3 - 5 mins stirring periodically. If the sauce is watery cook down longer.

*Add the panir and cook for about 5 mins so the panir absorbs the flavor of the sauce. Stir regularly - but gently (to avoid breaking the panir cubes).

Voila! Its ready! Serve hot with plain basmati rice for a delicious meal.

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