Akhrot Paneer

My family has a simple philosophy about cooking – get out of the kitchen as soon as you are done, or else. That particular philosophy had made me think of a huge number of recipes which are very quick, very simple, and needs as little time spent in the kitchen as possible.

For example, this particular recipe. Akhrot Paneer is essentially something I make if I am on the run, and I am absolutely pressed for time. A simple dish, with less than ten ingredients, including salt, sugar, oil, paneer and walnuts. There’s five ingredients right there, and the remaining five are probably in your pantry too. But in twenty minutes, you would get a dish which can save your weeknight woes about wanting good food but not willing to work for it. Serve it with Jeera Rice, or a paratha, and you would not want much more from your life.

Make a fine paste first – about 50 gm. roasted walnuts, unpeeled, 2 teaspoon charmagaz or melon seeds, with a bit of water. Make the paste as smooth as it can be, scraping down the sides of the blender as you go, to ensure there’s no pieces of walnut intact. Once done, I generally strain it, and paste whatever is left still standing, but you can skip this step. I do this because I am slightly anal about the texture of the gravy.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil and add 1/4th teaspoon caraway seeds (shahi jeera), a blade of mace, and a single bay leaf. Let splutter over medium heat for 30 seconds.

Add the paste of walnuts, 1/2 teaspoon ginger paste, and cook over medium heat till the mixture is dried up. At this point, add a teaspoon of vegetable oil to see the oil separate from the melon seeds. Add 1/2 teaspoon freshly crushed pepper (or 10-12 roughly crushed peppercorns), 1 cup hot water, and 250 gm. paneer (cottage cheese), cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Stir briskly.

Let the water come to a rolling boil before simmering and covering the pan. Let this cook for 4-5 minutes, then open cover, add salt and sugar to taste, and remove from heat. Serve hot. I have also made this with semi-firm tofu, and it tastes pretty good. However, increase the cooking time from 4-5 minutes to 10 minutes in case of Tofu, to let the juices get absorbed better.

Paneer in a walnut gravy

Written by Poorna Banerjee

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