Mattar Paneer Peas with fresh cheese
250g paneer or baked ricotta cheese
125ml melted ghee or oil
2 onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon chilli powder (optional)
2 firm ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garam masala
750g fresh or frozen peas
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint or coriander leaves
If making the paneer, let the curds hang in the muslin (cheesecloth) until cool, then squeeze out as much liquid as possible by twisting the muslin.
Put the wrapped curds on a flat plate and put another plate or chopping board on top. Weight it down and leave for about 6 hours until very firm.
Remove the muslin and cut the cheese into small cubes. If not using immediately, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. If using baked ricotta, cut into small cubes.
Heat the ghee or oil in a large frying pan and cook the cheese, in batches, turning them carefully so they brown on all sides. As each batch is done, remove to a plate with a slot.
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is golden.
Add the ground spices and stir for 1 minute further, then add the tomatoes, salt and half of the garam masala.
Cook and stir until the tomato is pulpy, adding a little hot water if the mixture seems too dry.
Add the fresh peas, if using, and cook until they are tender, about 20 minutes. Add the cheese and half of the mint, cover, and simmer for a further 10 minutes, or until the peas are cooked.
Sprinkle with the remaining garam masala and mint, and serve hot with rice or chapattis.
NOTE: If using frozen peas, add at the same time as the cheese.