Making a masala from scratch is a lot easier than you think. I have made a few changes to a classic recipe that uses flavours from the shores of southern India. Frying the paneer in a little oil before stirring it through the masala not only makes it crispy, but also adds bags of flavour.
Recipe for Paneer & Broccoli Masala (serves 4)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra if needed
1 pack paneer, around 225 gm (8oz),cut into large bite-sized pieces
20 fresh curry leaves(optional)
2 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp peeled and finely chopped fresh root ginger
2 red chillies, 1 finely sliced, 1 slit down the middle but left whole
2 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp ground coriander
400 ml (14fl oz) coconut milk
100 gm (31/2 oz) broccoli florets
1 tbsp tamarind paste/concentrate,or to taste
Sugar, to taste
Small handful of fresh coriander, to garnish
1. Gently heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the paneer until its golden brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside for later.
2. Throw the curry leaves (if using) into the pan to crisp up. Take them out and reserve for sprinkling over at the end.
3. Add a little more oil to the pan if you need to and toss in the mustard and cumin seeds. Once they start sizzling, stir in the turmeric and onion. Allow to soften for a few minutes before stirring in the garlic, ginger and chillies. After a further minute, stir in the tomato purée, garam masala and ground coriander. Add a splash of water to the pan and pour in the coconut milk.
4. Bring to a simmer and toss in the broccoli and fried paneer. Stir through the tamarind and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and sugar. Garnish with the crispy curry leaves and the fresh coriander before serving with some steamed Basmati or my foolproof pilau rice to mop up the sauce.