I’ve long been of the opinion that curry does not need meat. For some reason in the UK, most people order chicken, which usually comes in massive, dry chunks that add nothing to the curry. If I do fancy a meat curry, it’s almost always a keema, where the lamb mince becomes part of the sauce or slow cooked lamb chunks.
But most of the time I order a vegetarian curry, with paneer spinach being a favourite of Kieran’s especially. I was vegetarian for about two years when I was younger and I wish I’d known about it then!
I always thought that Rick Stein was just reliable for fish recipes, but his book ‘Far Eastern Odyssey’ has so many good recipes – so far I’ve made a vietnamese pho, a thai curry and this recipe. It’s well worth picking it up if you see it.
Spicy fried potato curry with paneer cheese and peas
250g peeled small waxy potatoes, such as Charlotte, halved lengthways and cut into 1cm-thick slices
250g paneer, cut into pieces 1cm x 2cm
12 curry leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
100g onions, chopped
15g garlic, crushed
25g peeled ginger, finely grated
½ tsp turmeric powder
3 green cayenne chillies, slit open lengthways
250g vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
½ tsp garam masala
175g peas, fresh or frozen
Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a wide shallow frying pan over a medium heat. Add the potato pieces and fry them for six to eight minutes, turning them every now and then until they are golden brown all over. Using a slotted spoon, lift out on to a plate. Add another tablespoon of oil and the paneer and fry for three to four minutes until these too are golden all over. Set aside with the potatoes.
Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan, add the curry leaves and cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle for a few seconds.
Add the onions, garlic and ginger and fry gently for five minutes until the onions are soft and just beginning to brown. Add the turmeric, chillies and chopped tomatoes and fry until the tomatoes have broken down to form a sauce.
Add the potatoes, 100ml water and one teaspoon salt, cover and simmer for five minutes until the potatoes are tender and the liquid has reduced to a thickish sauce. Add the pieces of fried paneer, garam masala and peas, and simmer for two minutes or until the peas are just tender. Stir in the ghee and serve.