Indian Cooking Handout

Chana Masala


mustard seeds

curry powder

onion, chopped

diced garlic

diced tomatoes

Kosher salt

canned chickpeas (or boil your own; a pressure cooker works well)

Shredded coconut



NB: precise amounts and event order of addition are not important.  Use your instincts and consider your tastes.  If you cook the above ingredients together for 2 hours, it *will* taste good!

1.     Add oil to a large saucepan and heat over medium heat.  When hot, add mustard seeds and heat until they start to pop.  Then add curry powder, onion and garlic. 

2.     When onion and garlic are soft and translucent, add tomatoes.  Simmer until the tomatoes have become a sauce.  Add salt.

3.     Add (either canned or already cooked) chickpeas and stir to coat thoroughly with the sauce.  Add water, turn down the head and cook over low heat for two hours, adding water if in danger of burning. 

4.     When water is cooked away, turn off the heat and stir in shredded coconut.  Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.


Doodh Paneer (Whole Milk Cheese)

(Adapted from 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer)


1 gallon whole milk

1/4 cup distilled vinegar or fresh lemon juice (you may need less or more)


1. Line a colander with 2 layers of cheesecloth, leaving about 2 or 3 inches of cheesecloth hanging over the rim and put it in the sink (as you would when draining pasta).


2. Pour the milk into a large saucepan and bring near to a boil over medium-high to high heat. Stir frequently to prevent the milk from scorching.


3. Just before the milk boils and foams, stir in the vinegar. White curds should separate from the thin, pale-green and watery whey. You may need to add a little more vinegar in order to separate them.


4. Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let it drain. Once the cheese is slightly cool to the touch, gather the edges go the cheesecloth together and fold over to cover the cheese.


5. Fill a heavy pot with water and set it directly atop the cheese in the colander until the cheese is firm - 3 to 5 hours. 


6. Remove the weight and unwrap the firm, milky-white cheese. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 week. (You can also freeze the cheese, sealed in a freezer-safe Ziploc bag for up to 2 months or longer. Thaw in the fridge before using)


Note: You can also make this recipe with half and half. I have never tried to make paneer with less than whole milk and so don't know if it is possible.


Kutchi Paneer  (Nutty Cheese in a Spinach-Chickpea Flour Sauce)

From 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer (reprinted by permission)

 2 tablespoons canola oil
 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
 2 teaspoons white granulated sugar
 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt
 1 teaspoon cumin seeds ground
 1 teaspoon coriander seeds ground
 1 teaspoon cayenne (ground red pepper) 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
 1/2 teaspoon ground asafetida (aka hing)
 1 medium sized green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1 inch  pieces
 1 large tomato, cored and finely chopped
 8 oz fresh spinach leaves, well-washed and finely chopped
 8 ounces paneer, cut into 1-inch cubes and pan-fried
 2 tablespoons Toasted Chickpea Flour

 1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the cumin  seeds and cook until they turn reddish brown and are fragrant 5-10 seconds.  Remove the skillet from the heat and sprinkle in the sugar, salt, ground  cumin, coriander, cayenne, turmeric and asafetida. The spices will instantly  sizzle and smell aromatic, the heat from the oil being just right to cook,  but not burn them.

 2. Immediately add the bell pepper and tomato and return the skillet to  medium-high heat. Cook, uncovered, stirring, until the tomato softens  slightly and the mixture looks sauce-like, about 2 minutes.

 3. Pour 2 cups water into the skillet and bring to a boil. Pile in the  spinach, stirring occasionally to wilt the leaves. Reduced the heat to  medium-low, cover the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the  spinach is olive green and soft and the bell pepper is fork-tender. 12 to 15 minutes.

 4. Stir in the fried paneer and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until  the cheese has softened, about 5 minutes.

 4. Sprinkle in the flour, stirring it quickly to prevent any lumps from  forming in the sauce. Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, stirring once or  twice, until the sauce thickens slightly , 3 to 5 minutes. Then serve.

 The fried paneer cubes provide essential proteins for the vegetarian diet  but if you don't have any, don't worry. Use extra-firm tofu, drained and  pan-fried, as a perfectly acceptable alternative.

 You will be amazed at how much of a nutty taste you get by stirring in the  toasted chickpea flour, which incidentally provides smooth body to the  spicy-sweet sauce