Paneer Kali Mirch
One of the best part about my vacation experiences is that I reserve a day to visit the local markets and even vegetable markets at times. Local produce, spices etc always interest me. When we planned Coorg as our holiday destination, I was sure that I would end up with lot of local produce as Coorg is a spice hub of Southern India.
If you have gone through the Coorg Diaries – Part 1 Series on the blog, you must have seen the images of the lovely peppers growing all around Coorg. Peppers are creepers that grow on silver oak trees and they grow up to a great height and hence need the strong oak tree for support and strength. I was fascinated when I tasted the green pepper which was juicy, peppery (obviously) and spicy too. The shops sell green pepper pickles but since we couldn’t take the risk of carrying glass bottles on flight, I had to skip that and instead settled for the black pepper that I could definitely make the most in the kitchen. Thankfully, its winters in Mumbai and coming back home to use the black pepper was just what I was really looking forward too.
Once back in my kitchen, I decided to cook Paneer Kali Mirch, which I believe honours and highlights the key produce “Pepper” and makes it stand out. Also, since its winters, including pepper in your diet does great wonders to the body too. The gravy is not extremely creamy nor does it have ground cashew nuts for a change. Its subtle and not the spicy red gravy as I have not used a single pinch of red chilli powder. The spice factor is from the black pepper and when it is fresh like the ones I have, the aroma generated from the kitchen during preparation, is something else. We paired these with some bright red carrots along with hot whole wheat oil free phulkas.
Do read the extremely simple recipe of Paneer Kali Mirch and try the same at home.
Recipe for Paneer Kali Mirch (Cottage Cheese cooked in a Black Pepper based sauce)
Prep Time – 15 mins
Cook Time – 30 minutes
Serves – 2 nos.
- Paneer – 150 gms cut into cubes
- Kali Mirch or Black Pepper – 1 tblsp coarsely ground + 12 whole peppercorns
- Onions – 2 nos. medium sized sliced
- Cinnamon Stick – ½ inch stick
- Clove – 2 nos.
- Bay Leaf – 2 nos.
- Jeera or cumin seeds – 1 tsp
- Curd – ½ cup (thick)
- Cream – 1 tblsp
- Butter – 2 tblsps
- Garam Masala Powder – 1 tsp
- Corriander Powder – 1 tsp
- Roasted Jeera Powder – ½ tsp
- Water – 1 tblsp to grind the paste + few tblsps to adjust the thickness of the gravy
- Salt as per taste
- Heat a non-stick kadhai or heavy bottom pan and add 1 tblsp of butter. Once the butter melts, add jeera or cumin seeds. Roast it slightly.
- Now, add the cinnamon stick, bay leaf, clove, 6 pepper corns and saute for few seconds and then add the sliced onions.
- Saute the onions until slightly brown in colour. Switch off the flame and cool the masala before grinding it into a thick paste by using 1 tblsp of water.
- Now, heat the pan and add butter, add the remaining pepper corns and then pour the ground masala paste. Cook this mixture over low heat until the raw smell vanishes and the masala turns slightly thick and golden.
- If you feel the masala turns a bit dry while cooking, add a tblsp of water and cook the mixture.
- Now, add the thick curd to the masala / gravy mixture along with coriander powder, roasted cumin powder and stir well. Then add salt, pepper powder ½ tblsp and stir the mixture.
- Let the curd incorporate with the masalas say about 5 minutes of cooking time, then add the cubes of paneer, the remaining ½ tblsp of pepper powder and salt as per taste.
- Cook this mixture on low flame until a thick gravy is formed. Add a tblsp of cream along with garam masala powder and stir the mixture once again. Adjust the gravy consistency as per your taste and preference by adding water accordingly, in case you find it too thick.
- Switch off the flame and serve it hot with parathas, phulkas etc.
- Curd should be thick and fresh. Not at all tangy else it will spoil the taste of the gravy.
- Hung curd is not required.
- No nut paste is used to prepare this gravy as the taste of pepper mixed in curd gravy, really stands out.
- If you feel the quantity of black pepper to be slightly more, you can reduce the same. However, the dish demands the taste and flavor of pepper to really stand out.
- I have used Salted Butter, you can opt for ghee or clarified butter too. However, won’t recommend using oil.
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