Paneer (or Egg) Jalfrezi and Jeera Rice

For Paneer Jalfrezi:
Oil – 1 1/2 tbsp, divided
Paneer – 8 oz or 350 gm, cut into cubes or strips
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Onion – 1 medium-sized, thinly sliced
Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tsp
Tomatoes – 2 large, sliced
Tomato paste – 2 tbsp (can use ketchup in a pinch)
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder – 2 tsp (or less, if you do not want it spicy)
Coriander powder – 1 1/2 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1/2 tsp
Green bell pepper – 1 sliced
Salt – to taste
Kasuri methi – 1 tsp, crushed (see Notes)
Cilantro leaves – 2 tbsp, chopped

For Jeera Rice:
Ghee – 1 tbsp
Cinnamon – 1″ stick
Cloves – 3
Green cardamom pods – 3
Star anise – a small piece
Black pepper corns – 6, lightly crushed
Cumin seeds – 2 tsp
Basmati rice – 1 cup, rinsed
Water – 2 cups
Lime juice – 2 tsp
Salt – to taste

Paneer Jalfrezi: Heat 1/2 tbsp oil in a large skillet with slightly raised sides. Fry paneer slices lightly on all sides, Drain and remove to a paper towel lined plate.

Heat rest of the oil in the skillet. Add cumin seeds and allow it to crackle.

Add onions and saute till translucent. Add ginger-garlic paste and saute till the raw smell is gone.

Then add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir and cook till tomatoes are mushy and you see the oil separating at the sides, around 4-5 minutes.

Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder and garam masala powder and stir to combine.

Add green bell peppers and salt to taste. Cover and cook for a few minutes till peppers are tender-crisp. You do not need any water really, but sprinkle some water if you think it is too dry.

Finally, fold in the fried paneer pieces and heat through. Do not cook for a long time after adding the paneer or they will toughen and turn chewy.

Sprinkle crushed kauri methi and cilantro leaves. Serve hot with jeera rice.

Jeera Rice: Rinse the rice a couple of times under cold water. Soak in cold water for 20 minutes, if possible.

Heat ghee in a pan. Add whole spices (as listed above, from cinnamon through black peppercorns) and allow them to sputter and turn fragrant.

Add cumin seeds and saute till they are lightly browned, but not burnt. Then add the drained rice and lightly roast in the ghee for 30 seconds. All the rice should get coated in the ghee.

Add water, lime juice and enough salt (water must be salty) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook till rice is done. Fluff rice gently with a fork before serving.

NOTES:
1. Kasuri methi are dried fenugreek leaves. These are crushed and added to some dishes to enhance the aroma and flavor. It is easily found in Indian/Asian stores or online. You can leave it out if you cannot find it.

2. You can also make jalfrezi with other vegetables like sliced carrots, beans, fresh peas, baby corn, etc. Another easy recipe is to replace paneer with sliced boiled eggs to make egg jalfrezi. You can also make chicken jalfrezi with boneless chicken strips, but the cooking time must be adjusted accordingly.

3. This jeera or cumin rice recipe is super simple and uses only a handful of aromatic spices for flavor. If you wish to, you can also caramelize some onions and ginger first before cooking the rice.

4. Check the rice once in between to see if it’s done. Sprinkle more hot water as needed.

5. You can also use a rice cooker to cook the rice. Do the initial steps of sautéing the spices and rice in ghee, then transfer it along with water, lime juice and salt to a rice cooker and cook as per the settings for white rice.

6. Start the rice first and while it is cooking, make the jalfrezi. Both dishes then get done simultaneously if you have just half an hour! The cooking time shown here reflects this, while each recipe made on its own may also take the same time.

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