I am so pleased to share with you the next recipe in my series: Monica’s Indian Express: Simple & Sassy Weeknight Dishes.

Monica’s Indian Express: Indian Cheese (Paneer) with Peppers

To make this simple recipe, you will need my favorite mix of spices. You can either buy the mix or make up your own. BUT BUT BUT – if you dont have some of the spices on hand, do not despair. Read on. So this recipe uses a mix called Paanch Phoron. It is a delightful mix of five spices used in equal quantity:Native to Bengal in eastern India, this five-spice mix is amazingly fragrant, flavorful and super-simple to use. First, that incredible aroma that arises when the spice mix is sizzled in hot oil: It’s as if someone took maple syrup and spiced it up with dashes of toasty cumin. Why? Because one of the most aromatic parts of this mix is fenugreek, and guess what fenugreek smells like? Maple syrup, I swear. Fenugreek is the star of this mix, but the other spices play wonderfully complementary roles: The cumin‘s smokiness sets off the fennel seed’s sweetness, while both are countered by the nigella and mustard seeds’ gentle bitterness. Sounds magical, doesn’t it?

You can get it here or make it : five spices — nigella, cumin, fennel, mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds — are combined in a roughly 1-1

But, what if you dont have all the spices? Despair not. You can start with any combination of whole spices you have. Just make this recipe with only cumin or only mustard seeds at first. See what you think. And then you can add the other spices as and when you purchase them!

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 ½ teaspoons paanch phoron
2 shallots, peeled and diced
2 bell peppers, seeded and cut into thin strips
¼ cup water
2 cups diced paneer (1/4 inch dice)
Table salt as needed
1 teaspoon turmeric
4 tablespoons heavy cream
1. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet on medium heat. Add the paanch phoron mix. As soon as the spices sizzle, add the shallots and bell peppers. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the shallots begin to change color.
2. Add ¼ cup water and cook until the water evaporates, 5-7 minutes.
3. Add the paneer and cook for another minute.
4. Add the turmeric and salt and mix well.
5. Stir to coat well. Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes or until the paneer is heated through.Add the heavy cream. Mix well.
6. Serve hot.
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