Thursday, November 20, 2008

Matter Paneer Made Vegan

My husband really likes Indian food.  When we started dating, he took me out to an Indian restaurant for my first taste of it.  I love that there are so many vegetarian options and it's all so good!  It's loaded with calories though, so we don't go out for it very often.  I was thrilled when I found this recipe for Matter Paneer in the October 2006 issue of Vegetarian Times magazine.  It can be made either vegan or vegetarian, depending on your preference.  The first time I made it, I was able to find some paneer at a local Indian grocery store, and it was delicious but full of calories and saturated fat.  After that, I used the suggestion from VT to make it with tofu and I think it is really good that way.

Serves 4-6
1 large onion, quartered
1 1/2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. whole brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 tsp.)
1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. garam masala
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 10-oz. pkg. frozen peas, thawed (1 generous cup)
3 Tbs. reduced-fat or fat free sour cream (or soy yogurt, or leave out completely)
1/4 tsp. sugar
1 8-oz. pkg. tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes (or paneer if you choose)
  • Purée onion in food processor.
  • Heat oil in pot over medium heat. Add mustard seeds, cumin and bay leaf. Cook 1 minute, or until fragrant.
  • Add onion and garlic, and sauté 5 to 7 minutes, or until browned. Stir in tomato sauce, coriander, garam masala, turmeric, salt and paprika. Simmer 10 minutes, or until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally. Add up to 1/2 cup water if sauce is too thick. I don't usually have to add any water.  
  • Stir in peas, tofu, sour cream (or soy yogurt or nothing) and sugar. Simmer 15-20 minutes more.  Remove bay leaf and serve hot with basmati rice or naan bread.   
  • If making with paneer, add the paneer 5 minutes after adding the peas and cook for only about three more minutes.
My tofu of choice is Mori Nu Lite Firm Tofu.  I like it because it has the fewest calories of any light tofu I have found, and it doesn't have to be refrigerated until opening.  I buy it in bulk so I always have some on hand.  This tofu comes in 12.3 ounce packages, so you may use only half the package for this recipe.  I usually double the recipe so I can use up a whole package.  It is good leftover and it never lasts long!  Your amounts of tofu and peas don't have to be exact for this recipe, but I generally add 2 1/3 cups frozen peas if I double the recipe.  I also like to serve this as a main dish meal, so if I make it as written, I divide it in half to make just two servings (1 1/2 cups per serving, makes 3 cups total or 6 if doubled).  I serve 1 1/2 cups of the matter paneer over 1 cup of basmati rice which makes a nice meal for about 475 calories (275 for the matter paneer, 200 for the rice).

When I started making this, I had trouble finding garam masala.  Here is a recipe to make your own, also from Vegetarian Times (I don't remember what issue).

Garam Masala
1 TBS ground cumin
1 TBS ground coriander
2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Mix together well and store in an airtight container away from light.

If you want to make fragrant basmati rice, like you get in Indian restaurants, here is how.

8 whole green cardamom pods
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vegetable oil (optional, I leave it out)
1 cinnamon stick
Add to basmati rice and cook according to package directions.  Remove cardamom and cinnamon before serving.  Note: I wasn't able to find whole green cardamom pods, so I used a couple pinches of dried whole cardamom.  It worked well, and you don't have to worry about removing them at the end - they're a little crunchy but not hard or unpleasant.



ashley (sweet and natural) said...

I had no idea Garam Masala was just a mix of those spices! I have all of them in my cabinet now - I definitely want to mix them up. Thanks!

Maria said...

I love all of the spices in this one!