Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Nepal: Peas and Chhana or Cheese (Chhana-Kerau Tarkaari)

This was a great vegetarian dinner! The cheese and peas go very well together and with all the spices the dish is incredibly flavorful. This Nepalese dish is very similar to Indian yogurt-based curries. The original dish called for Nepalese garam masala but I just used the one I had at home. I also couldn't find asafetida, which seems to be a rather aquired taste according to the book. So no worries in leaving it out. I prepared more of this dish than was in the original recipe, the reason being that the smallest package of paneer I could find contained 400 g cheese. I am looking forward to eating the leftovers. This dish is also part of this month's Cook Around the Globe.

Six months ago: Herring in Yogurt Sauce


Ingredients (for 6 servings):
2 tbsp vegetable oil
400 g paneer cheese, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp + 2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
3 bay leaves
3/4 tsp ground turmeric
small pinch of asafetida, optional
3 medium onions, minced
7 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp fresh minced ginger
2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
5-6 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp salt
cayenne pepper
2 cups plain (low-fat) yogurt, mixed with 1/2 cup water
6 cups frozen peas, thawed and drained
3/4 cup fresh minced cilantro

Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the cheese in batches and cook in a single layer, turning gently and frequently, until golden brown on all sides, 5-7 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Heat butter in a large enough sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the cinnamon, 1 tsp cumin, and bay leaves and stir-fry until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5-10 seconds. Add the turmeric and asafetida (if using), followed by the onions, garlic, and ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally, until light brown, 5-7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add the tomatoes, coriander, remaining cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper, and mix well. Cover the pan and cook until the tomatoes are soft and the liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes. Pour in the yogurt mixture and bring the sauce to a boil. Add the peas and cheese, and cook, stirring frequently, until the peas are tender and the cheese cubes absorb the sauce, about 10 minutes. The finished product should have a thick sauce, but if you prefer it thinner, add a little water. Mix in the cilantro. Serve with rice or bread if desired.

(adapted from: "Taste of Nepal" by Jyoti Pathak)


  1. This looks great, can't wait to see the recipe!

  2. I see that you have dishes from different parts of the world. I will be looking forward for the recipe.