With the growing diversity of our population, the opportunities for rich cultural exchanges are plentiful. So it is with our South Asian Americans, whose warm and peaceful presence is growing and thriving here, encompassing religion and education, business and medicine, research and technology, as well as providing us with the pleasure of their delicious cuisine. As our temperatures slowly begin to drop, our yearning for cold summer fare is gradually being replaced with thoughts of warm, substantial entrees. Indian food fits this bill extremely well and features delectable vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes alike. A delicious meatless Indian recipe follows at the end of this writing.
Those of us who are lovers of Indian food have many restaurant choices in the Triangle, but for home cooks with a taste that demands authenticity, ingredient hunting has been somewhat of a challenge. No longer, as Patel Brothers Indian Grocery has opened in Cary at 1419 SE Maynard Road. Charlotte residents, they will be opening there as well and for those of you outside of our area, check the store locator for one near you.
Patel Brothers began in 1974, with one store in Chicago. They have grown into a mini-chain, with thirty five stores across the country. Their stores aren’t large, nor are they pretentious. But authentic they are, with a wonderful variety of imported Indian foods. Patel Brothers has an abundance of whole spices, a wide variety of lovely chutneys and ghee, as well as bagged basmati rice and beans. There is fresh produce of course, and a friendly staff who can answer your culinary and preparation questions. However, if you are starving for Palak Paneer or Chana Masala but don’t feel like cooking after a long day’s work, these, as well as other beautifully prepared entrees, are available in Patel Brothers’ frozen section, along with Parantha Breads and Kulfi, the delicious Indian ice cream. Kulfi is a particular favorite of ours, with a creamier texture than regular ice cream, as well as some lovely, exotic flavors, such as mango and rose. If you demand authentic Indian ingredients for your own preparation or if you are looking for a tasty introduction to the rich, savory flavors of South Asian cuisine, Patel brothers Indian Grocery is certain to become your go to store.
And now, in the spirit of happy plagerism, here is Patel Brothers’ recipe for Mutter Paneer, a scrumptious vegetarian entree that is one of the most popular of traditional Indian dishes……
- 1 pound of paneer, cubed
- 1 cup of fresh shelled or thawed frozen peas
- 5 onions – 3 medium and 2 large
- 3 medium sized tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon of ginger paste
- 2 tablespoons of garlic paste
- 2 teaspoons of powdered coriander
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- 2 teaspoons of garam masala powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of tumeric
- 2 finely chopped green chilis
- 6 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups of water
- 3 tablespoons of heavy cream
- salt to taste
- a handfull of fresh chopped coriander leaves for garnishing
In a food processor, grind the onions until they are paste like in consistency – set aside, and do the same with the tomatoes.
In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of oil and gently stir fry the paneer until golden.. Remove and drain on a paper towel. Using the same skillet, heat the remaining oil and add the onion paste. Saute until light brown. Add the tomato paste, ginger paste and garlic paste and continue to saute for an additional 2 minutes. Add the coriander, cumin, tumeric and garam masala powders and the chilis. Continue to saute until the oil begins to separate from the mixture. Add the peas and continue cooking for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Add the paneer, water and salt to taste, lowering the heat and stirring frequently until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat, stir in the cream and garnish with the fresh coriander leaves. Serve immediately and prepare yourself for a huge round of applause.