Once upon a time, Harjit Jhikka and her husband were going to open up a restaurant in Marblehead, right on the outskirts of Boston. In the meantime, she offered cooking classes to Boston’s elite where she taught others how to make authentic Indian cuisine. “All of my family was or is into restaurants. I have a passion for cooking and spices and blending healthy meals,” she says.
Finances were not good to support such a big restaurant, and although the idea of an authentic Indian restaurant didn’t pan out, she continues to teach others how to make the very foods she loves so much. Jhikka describes some of the nuances to Indian cuisine across different regions of the country.
People from the Goa region [in Northern India] use a lot of coconut because it’s easily accessible. They also eat a lot of seafood. South Indians eat a lot of rice and their curries tend to be thinner and they consume a lot more rice. One of the most popular Punjab recipes is Matar Paneer, which is essentially a delectable mixture of peas and Indian cottage cheese in a creamy and rich curry sauce.
Ingredients & Method
Serves 4-5 people
Chop 1 spoon of garlic and sauté until light brown in your choice of cooking oil or ghee
1 spoon fresh ginger chopped [add to the garlic]
1 red onion chopped into small pieces [add to the garlic and ginger]
6-7 fresh green chilies chopped (more or less depending on taste)
Once all these ingredients are brown, add a spoon of cumin seeds, half a spoon of turmeric, a spoon of garam masala, ¼ spoon of black pepper, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 spoon of salt (more or less according to taste)
Thin some tomato puree (about 3 spoons) in a cup of water and add it to the mix
Mix the ingredients together and then add 2 cups of water
To thicken the curry even further, add 2 -3 spoons of besan ( chick pea flour) *Cool fact: Chick pea flour is good for the heart
Add a cup of green peas
Add a cup of the cubed paneer
Let all the ingredients simmer over slow heat
Once the curry is thick and the green peas and paneer are soft and tender remove from the heat.
Add a bunch of cilantro on top.
This can be served with basmati rice or naan bread.
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