This recipe, using Indian paneer cheese, is by Anjum Anand and comes courtesy of my friend Esmee, who cooks Indian style food regularly. Don’t be put off by the list of ingredients – it is straightforward to make (promise!) and you should be able to get the items in a large supermarket or international shop. I was really excited when I sat down to eat it as it actually tastes authentic and better than a lot of take away curries I’ve had!
The most interesting discovery for a food geek like me is that cashew nuts blended with water give dishes a creamy, thick texture. Serve the tikka masala with rice or chapati/naan bread, to soak up the sauce. I am sure it would work brilliantly with quorn or prawns as an alternative to the paneer. And of course chicken, which it is most commonly made with.
1 packet Paneer cheese (available in supermarkets), cut in to bite size pieces
3 tbsp vegetable oil/olive oil
1 tbsp butter
Contents of 6 cardamom pods, crushed (you can use the back of a spoon to crush in to a rough powdery mixture)
1 cinnamon shard
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and made into a paste (a fine grater is fine for this)
Thumb sized piece of ginger, made into a paste (a fine grater is fine for this)
Tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1¼ tsp garam masala
Salt to taste
¼-1/2 tsp red chilli powder or to taste
6 tbsp double cream
15 cashew nuts blended (in a food processor) with a little water to make a thick paste
Boil the paneer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil and 1 tbsp of butter until hot, add the cardamom and cinnamon stick and follow, 10 seconds later with the onions. Cook on a moderate flame until the excess water has dried off and the onions are starting to turn golden.
Add the ginger and garlic pastes and sauté, over a gentle flame, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, powdered spices and salt. Cook, over a moderate flame, for approx 20 minutes or until well reduced and you can see oil coming out of the sauce. Turn the heat up and fry this paste for a further 3-4 minutes.
Add the paneer, cream, water if necessary, and the cashew nuts blended in a little water. Bring to the boil and simmer for another 5-7 minutes. You may want to add a little more water, depending on how thick you like your sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning and serve.