This is definitely a special occasion dish as it is has elegant as well as delicious and I think worth the effort if you have people coming around. Normally, I would stuff these koftas with a spiced mushroom mixture but as I was writing the recipe, it seemed one step too far and fiddly so I decided to deconstruct the dish and have added lovely shiitake mushrooms in separately which actually works better both in terms of flavour and texture. If you prefer to stuff the paneer, there is a mushroom stuffing recipe at the bottom. Alternatively, I like to stuff these balls simply with a raisin and a pistachio each which also works really well in this dish.
Serves 5 - 6
350g home made paneer, (place in boiling water as you work if it has not just been made)
Small handful of chopped fresh coriander
12 medium sized shiitake mushrooms, thickly sliced or stalks removed and halved
8 tbs. vegetable oil
3 black cardamom pods
2 large onions, sliced
4 fat garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated
25g ginger, peeled and finely grated
4 large tomatoes, quartered
2 tbs. tomato puree
½-3/4 tsp. red chilli powder
1 rounded tbs. coriander powder
1/4 tsp. cumin powder
1/3 tsp. turmeric powder
2 tsp. garam masala powder
50g cashew nuts, soaked
5-6 tbs. double cream
1 rounded tsp. dried fenugreek leaves
Fresh coriander to garnish
2 portabella mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
3 shiitake mushrooms, stalks removed, cleaned and chopped
1 rounded tsp. finely chopped ginger
1 green chilli, halved
1 tsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. garam masala
2 tbs. fresh chopped coriander
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Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan. Add the black cardamom pods and onions and cook until they are well browned. Add the ginger and garlic pastes and cook until they are lightly colouring. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, remaining spices and seasoning; cook over a moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until all the water has boiled off and the paste releases oil, around 15-20 minutes. Cook the paste for a few minutes over a moderate to high heat, stirring constantly to get a better depth of flavour. Add a splash of water and blend the sauce to a fine puree. Pour back into the pan, add enough water for the consistency of single cream, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 6-7 minutes.
While the curry is cooking make the koftas. Break up and crumble the paneer until it is fine and with the heel of your hand knead this until it is even finer and work the dough until when you squeeze a bit together, it holds, the more you work it the smoother it becomes and the warmth and moisture of your hand will get you there. Add ½ tsp. salt and the coriander and form into large marble-sized balls.
Add enough oil to come 2” up the sides of a small saucepan and heat to around 180C. Test the oil by dropping a small amount of the mixture into the oil, it should sizzle immediately but not colour straight away. Add enough koftas in so that the pan is not over-crowded, cook turning halfway until they are a deep golden, drain and place on kitchen roll and repeat with the remaining koftas. Remove most of the remaining oil from the pan, leaving in around 1-2 tbs. add the whole mushrooms, season lightly and sauté the mushrooms for 4-5 minutes. Keep aside.
Once the curry is done, add the cashew nut paste and cream, bring to a gentle simmer, the consistency should be of a light cream. Add the koftas and mushrooms, bring back to a boil, cover and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Sprinkle over the dried fenugreek leaves and garnish with a swirl of cream and a little fresh coriander.