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Author Notes: This recipe has a bit of a South Indian twist with the use of curry leaves, coconut and mustard seeds but it lends itself a bit to my Pakistani roots, where we use a lot of tamarind and jaggery in difference savory dishes. Indian cheese, Paneer can be substituted with firm cottage cheese or even firm tofu - Jaggery can be substituted with dark brown sugar or molasses. Asparagus is so lovely at this time of year and goes beautifully with these flavours. Asparagus is beautiful as this time of year and adds beautifully to these flavours. The balance of sweet, savory, hot and sour lifts the umami element and it's a dish eaten by itself or with some lovely warm flatbreads. —Sumayya Usmani
- 1 1/2 cups Indian Paneer cheese cut into small squares
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 1 teaspoon paste of ginger and garlic
- 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon fresh red chilli paste (I make mine by rehydrating Kashmiri dried chillis, you can use Mexican chillis too)
- 1 tablespoon tamarind paste (try to use whole dried tamarind pods, rehydrate in hot water)
- 1 tablespoon fresh grated coconut, dessicated could do, but won't be as lovely
- 2 teaspoons grated jaggery, or 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 5-6 fresh curry leaves, can use dried if fresh not available
- 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 handful of chopped coriander leaves
- 1 handful of spring onions
- 2-4 spears of baby asparagus
- Fry the paneer off in a pan with a little oil until brown on all sides. Steam the asparagus. Set both aside. Put a little more oil in a wok style pan and heat under medium heat. Now add mustard seeds and cumin seeds and once they start to pop add in the ginger and garlic paste and fry quickly not allowing the contents to burn.
- Once the raw smell of garlic leaves the pan add the tomatoes and cook until soft, you may need to add a little water to ensure that the sauce doesn't burn. Add the tamarind, curry leaves and jaggery and once the sauce is cooked, and the oil starts to rise up, add the coconut and turn off the heat. Pop in the fried paneer and asparagus and fry for a minute or so, and top with more coconut, coriander leaves and spring onions and serve warm!
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Spring Alliums