Wednesday, 9 March 2016


One of the best nights in our house is curry night. There is nothing I enjoy more than making a curry sauce packed with herbs and spices, popping it in the slow cooker early in the afternoon, leaving it to brew all day so that by the time you come to eat it in the evening, it's so intense and beautiful that all the worries of the week just float away. This time round I'm using paneer, an ingredient I've never cooked with before but it's surprising easy to use and when combined with peas, you have a match made in curry heaven.
Not that this recipe has to be slow cooked, I just think the curry flavor is so much better if you approach it low and slow. If you want to whip this up as a curry in a hurry though then it's simple to adapt the  recipe. Simply get to the part of the recipe below just before you would transfer to the slow cooker (were you have brought the sauce to a boil) and remove from the heat. Blend the sauce straight away until smooth and bring back to the boil. Add in the peas and paneer and simmer for 10 minutes before adding in the creme fraiche and coriander and serve. Simples.

As for the ingredients, this is a very simple, sauce heavy sauce which is quite balanced so I wouldn't be messing around with any of the herbs and spices that much. You may notice the black cardamon pods here tho which are bit difficult to get hold of if you don't live by a world food store or Indian spice market. Green cardamon is a lot more readily available so if you cant get hold of the black then substitute it with just 1 tsp of ground green cardamon (don't add more, ground green can be quite potent!).

Paneer is also now easier to get hold of and is really easy to use. If you can't get hold of it I suppose you could use halloumi. It's not very Indian but it would have that same quality of paneer of not melting when simmered in  sauce. You could also replace the cheese with some other vegetarian alternative such as Quorn chicken pieces but the paneer does really add something to the dish that make it totally special that I don't think you would get form Quorn.

Let's get cooking! Recipe below will make enough for four when served with rice or for two hungry people served on it's own. If you are going to slow cook this as I suggest you will need to give yourself at least 4 hours from start to finish to get everything finished in time for tea;

Pea and Paneer Curry

4 Curry Leaves
4 Black Cardamon Pods
10 Black Peppercorns
1 Large Finely Chopped Onion
3 Grated Garlic Cloves
4 Large Chopped Tomatoes
1 Tbsp Grated Ginger
2 Tsp Ground Coriander
Large Pinch Cayenne Pepper
1 Tsp Ground Turmeric
1 Tsp Garam Masala
2 Tbsp Tomato Puree
Salt To Season
200g Frozen Peas
300g  2cm Cubed Paneer
4 Tbsp Creme Fraiche
Large Handfull Chopped Coriander Leaves

  1. Place your slow cooker on to warm up on high and heat a large oiled pan on a medium heat until the oil is hot. You should have enough hot oil to just cover the whole base of the pan.
  2. Pop in the curry leaves, black cardamon and peppercorns and fry for 30 seconds until the aromas of the spices are released. Add in the onions and garlic and continue to fry until the onions have softened. 
  3. Next, add in the tomatoes, ginger, ground coriander, cayenne, turmeric, garam masala, tomato puree and a big old pinch ofsalt and continue to fry, breaking up the tomatoes as you go so that a sauce begins to form. When all the tomatoes have broken down, add in 100ml of water and bring the sauce to just before a boil and then transfer your sauce to the slow cooker. Leave the sauce for at least two hours to let the curry sauce brew and become uber flavorsome.
  4. After the sauce has been bubbling away for at least two hours, carefully blend the sauce until smooth. If you want you can pass the sauce through a sieve once blended to make sure everything is super smooth but as long as you give it a proper good blend you should be OK. 
  5. With the blended sauce in the slow cooker, add in the peas and paneer and continue to simmer in the slow cooker for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, stir through the creme fraiche and coriander leaves and serve immediately.
If you have any extra coriander leaves left you can use them as a garnish over the top of the curry. I didn't serve it with rice although I'm sure it would be delicious with some grains. Instead, I decided to serve mine up with a load of hot naan bread. Perfect for scooping up every last drop of that flavor packed intense curry sauce. Throwing those peas and paneer in at the end also means that whilst they are cooked, they retain an element of firmness so that your curry has a bit of bite to it. Waiting for the curry to brew for those two hours requires a lot of patience but I promise you that the wait is well worth it for this perfect pea and paneer curry.

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