This is one of those dishes which start out as something and end up being something else altogether. I wanted to make Choley (Chana Masala) and then I saw I had store bought Paneer cubes in my freezer and also quite a bit of cilantro in my refrigerator. One thing led to another and the end result was a green masala chana (chick peas) curry with Paneer in it!
- Chick peas - 1 cup
- Paneer (cottage cheese- - 200 gms
- Oil/ghee(clarified butter) - 2 tbsp
- Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
- Onions - 1 large, finely chopped
- Salt to taste
- Water - 1 cup
- Ingredients for 'green' masala:
- Grated coconut - 2 tbsp
- Cilantro - 1 small bunch
- Mint leaves - 10-12
- Green chillies - 5 (more or less depending on your taste)
- Garlic - 4 cloves
- Ginger - 1' piece
- Cloves (lavang or laung) - 4
- Green cardamom - 2
- Cinnamon stick - 1' piece
- Baking or cooking soda (bicarbonate of soda) - a pinch (optional)
- Cooked chickpeas - 2 tbsp
Wash and soak chana (chick peas) in water for atleast 6-8 hours or overnight is preferable. Cook the chana with the soaked water (you can use the pressure cooker if you have one, it gets done quickly, remember every pressure cooker is different and it make different times to cook, my pressure cooker took 2 whistles).
Cut the block of paneer into cubes and set aside. You can shallow fry the cubes in little oil or you can also deep fry them too. I used store bought fried Paneer cubes which made it all the more easier!
Blend the 'green' masala ingredients to a smooth paste and set aside.
Heat oil/ghee in a pan. Season with the cumin seeds. When the seeds crackle, put in the finely chopped onions and fry till golden brown.
Put in the 'green' masala and saute till you see oil/ghee leaving the sides of the pan. Also rinse the blender with water and retain the 'green' water to use later in the curry.
Add the cooked chana and stock and mix well. Put in the cubed Paneer and also add salt to taste.
If more gravy is needed, you can add the blender rinsed 'green' water. Cook till it reaches the gravy achieves the desired consistency.
Serve hot with jeera rice or any choice of Indian breads like rotis, naan, etc.
- I add a pinch of baking/cooking soda while blending as it helps in preserving the green color of the masala.
- I also put in about 2 tbsp of the cooked chana to the masala while blending because it helps in making the gravy get a thicker consistency.
- You can use just oil or just ghee while making the curry, I use a combination (1:1) of both so that I get the flavor of ghee and go easy on the fat as well!
- Canned chana can also be used, just discard the liquid its in and wash the chana under running water well.
- If you are out of Paneer, you can substitute it with preboiled potato cubes.