No Indian kitchen survives without it’s stock of fresh green chillies and dried red chilles. In fact most savoury dishes definitely have either one of these chillies in them. While I like my food with a lot of flavour, I can’t tolerate too much heat. Besides, crying while eating is not my idea of fun.
When I read about the ‘hot’ event at Barbara’s- I was in a dilemma. I had this block of fresh homemade cottage cheese / paneer and I had my regular stock of green and red chillies. So it was decided to use the chillies and a few other ingredients to marinade the cheese and then dunk the flavour-rich cheese in a not-so-hot gravy.
The recipe name that first struck me was ‘Red Hot Chilli Paneer’. But the end result was not-quite-red and not-quite-so-hot. Hence the title-Chilli marinated paneer in gravy.
Making your own cottage cheese-
Bring one Litre of milk (atleast 2%) to a good boil. Keep at a simmer. Add 1/2 cup yogurt/ curds to the simmering milk and stir for 3-4 minutes. This will completely separate out the milk into cheese and whey. Filter using a muslin cloth, let it drain for five minutes and then place it with the muslin on a colander for excess water to drain out. Don’t squeeze / press out the water. You will get upto 200-250 gms of cottage cheese.
Personally, I like this method best. You can use either lemon juice / vinegar for curdling the milk, but it leaves a sour aftertaste and the cheese isn’t as soft. Don’t throw away the whey (drained liquid ). You can use some in gravy and use the rest to bind the chapati dough. It is very rich nutritionally.
If you are short on time or patience, by all means use the store bought paneer. In Mumbai, the Amul pre-cut paneer cubes are a pretty good option.