Paneer Curry with Prunes
For 4 people as a main dish
For the curry
- Canola oil for deep-frying, plus another 4 tablespoons of canola or grape seed oil for frying
- 1 lb 2 oz paneer cheese
- 2 onions
- 1 cup pitted prunes
- 2 cloves
- 2 cups + tablespoon coconut milk
- 4 1/2 tablespoons concentrated tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon hot curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon flaked almonds
- 1 tablespoon pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 1 scallion, green parts
- 1 sprig cilantro
- Grated zest of 1 untreated lemon
For the rice
- 2 1/3 cups Japanese short-grain rice
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
For the curry, heat an ample amount of canola oil in a tall saucepan. Cut paneer into 1/2-inch thick slices and then cut the slices into triangles. Deep-fry the cheese pieces in the hot oil until they have a golden-brown crust. Remove with a strainer and immediately place in a bowl of hot water. Let soak for 15 minutes. (This makes the paneer softer and gives it a nice consistency.) Then remove and drain.
While the paneer soaks, peel and finely chop the onions. Heat 4 tablespoons of canola oil in a frying pan, add the onions and sauté over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
Halve the prunes. Crush the cloves in a mortar. Add both, along with the coconut milk, tomato paste, maple syrup and the remaining seasonings, to the onions in the pan and simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spread a bit of the prune sauce on the bottom of an ovenproof dish, place a layer of paneer on it and cover with sauce. Repeat this process until all the ingredients have been used up, finishing with a layer of sauce. Bake for 25 minutes in the oven.
Wash rice in a sieve until the water runs almost clear. Bring to the boil with an equal amount of water, add salt, turn down the temperature to the lowest setting and cook for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to stand, covered, for 10 more minutes.
Meanwhile, dry-roast the almond and pepitas in a small frying pan and coarsely chop. Trim the green parts of the scallion and cut into very thin strips. Pluck the cilantro leaves from the stems.
Remove the paneer curry from the oven and garnish with the almond-pumpkin seed mixture, scallions, lemon zest and cilantro. Serve rice separately.
Haya's Tips: you can replace the rice in this recipe with naan bread or flatbread. The paneer can be replaced with chicken. With the sweetness of the prunes and the slight spiciness, this dish is then reminiscent of Moroccan cuisine.
Reprinted with permission from Tel Aviv: Food. People. Stories by Haya Molcho, copyright © 2019. Published by Acc Art Books.