Prue’s Paneer Curry
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 mild red chilli, finely chopped (with seeds)
2.5cm (1in) piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp hot curry powder
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
100ml double cream
salt and black pepper, to season
150g baby leaf spinach
250g paneer, cut into bite-sized cubes
150g frozen (petits pois) peas
a pinch of caster sugar
squeeze of lemon juice
rice and/or naan bread, to serve
Veg Portions / Serving: 2
Recipe taken from The Vegetarian Kitchen by Prue Leith & Peta Leith.
For years I had been reluctant to try paneer, as descriptions often liken it to cottage cheese, which immediately puts me off. However, that description is so wildly inaccurate – it’s far more like a halloumi, and since discovering it, I cook with it all the time. The curry below is one of my favourite ways to use it.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, then add the onion, garlic, chilli and ginger and sauté for 3–4 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent, then add the tomato purée, cumin, garam masala and curry powder. Cook for 30 seconds, then add the tinned tomatoes and the double cream.
Season well with salt and black pepper, bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Rinse the spinach leaves.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining vegetable oil in a frying pan over a medium–high heat. Add the paneer and fry it, turning it frequently, until golden brown and crisp all over. Add the paneer to the curry.
Return the curry to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for a further 10–15 minutes. Add the frozen petits pois and spinach, return to the boil, and simmer for just a few minutes until the peas are cooked and the spinach has wilted.
Add the sugar and a small squeeze of lemon juice, check the seasoning, and serve with rice or naan
Kids who engage regularly with veg through veg-themed activities, such as arts and crafts, sensory experiences, growing and cooking are shown to be more likely to eat the veg they engage with. Encouraging kids to engage and play with veg is the handy first step to them developing a good relationship with veg and life-long healthy eating.
Kids in the kitchen
Get the kids to rinse the spinach, measure out the spices (with your help), and carefully pop the fried paneer into the curry (off the heat for smaller children).
While getting kids to interact with veggies for real and using their senses to explore them is best, encouraging hands off activities like arts & crafts, puzzles & games or at-home science experiments can be a great start, particularly for those who are fussier eaters or struggle with anything too sensory. Use these veg-themed activities as a stepping stone to interacting with the veg themselves. We have loads of crafty downloads here, puzzles here, and quirky science with veg here.
Once you feel your child is ready to engage a little more, you can show them how to explore the veg you have on hand with their senses, coming up with playful silly descriptions of how a veg smells, feels, looks, sounds and perhaps even tastes. Find ideas, videos and some simple sensory education session ideas to get you started here.
The moments before food is offered can be a perfect opportunity for engagement that can help make it more likely a child will eat it! Giving children a sense of ownership in the meal can make a big difference to their feelings going into it and the pride they take in it. You know your child best, but if you aren’t sure where to start, we have some fun and simple ideas for easy roles you can give them in the serving process over here.