Mowgli paneer

Paneer is known as Indian cheese, my family are Indians, which means that eating paneer should be second nature to us…. How I wish.

Getting my parents to eat paneer is like asking them to eat mud… painful and a fight right from the moment they see me chopping it up on the cutting board.

I keep telling my dad that his Indian and this is known as Indian cheese, and his response every time is that he is not that kind of Indian, meaning which every Indian that does eat paneer, he is the opposite of that Indian. My mother on the other hand, wants it to literally be shredded and diced to within an inch of its life so that she can eat it without actually seeing it.

I came across this recipe in Nisha Katona’s recipe book and I was all eager to try it out. I remember seeing two blocks of paneer sitting in the fridge waiting to be used and turned into something delicious. Seeing as I only bought it a week ago, I didn’t think anything of it.

So I made the curry gravy and cut up the paneer and as I was putting a few blocks in, I saw something that looked funny on the paneer and I didn’t think twice, I nibbled on the block to see what it was, it wasn’t off, it was still well within the sell by date and the package hadn’t expanded yet so there was no contamination whatsoever.

I was so wrong, that nibble was the worst idea I have ever had in my life. I spat it out, threw the pot of food away and tried eating every possible sweet in the pantry to get the funky after taste out of my mouth.

Apparently the paneer went off during the 12 hour power outage we had, so I had to start again and I had to go out and buy a new block… boy was I working myself up for not throwing out the paneer after the outage, seeing as I threw everything else out, but I have no idea why I overlooked the paneer, I learnt my lesson and secondly the queue at Woolworths during lunch hour was a killer.

When I did finally make it home and got the second attempt at this dish on my parents were staring at the paneer, but I was quick and kept repeating it to them, even making them repeat after me, that this was not paneer, it was in fact halloumi and they believed me, they loved this dish, my dad… the man who can’t open the fridge and not make himself nauseas when he sees paneer in the fridge, actually ate it and went for seconds without complaining. My mother ate the paneer but left the peas, she is going through a “I don’t like peas phase.”

Should I tell them the truth? I don’t want to hurt them and tell them that it was in fact paneer…. Oh well what they don’t know won’t hurt them.


  • 4 x tbsp. olive oil.
  • 1 x tsp cumin seeds.
  • 1 x onion, finely chopped.
  • 1 x green chilli, finely chopped.
  • 1 x tsp ginger garlic paste.
  • ½ x tsp turmeric powder.
  • 1 x tsp chilli powder.
  • 1 x tbsp. garam masala.
  • 1 x tsp coriander powder.
  • ¼ x tsp dried fenugreek leaves.
  • 3 x tsp tomato paste.
  • 2 x tomatoes, diced.
  • 1 x tsp salt.
  • 100g x frozen green peas.
  • 200g x spinach, roughly chopped.
  • 250g x paneer, cubed.
  • Fresh coriander, finely chopped to garnish.


  • Heat oil in a pot.
  • Add the cumin seeds, salt, onion and chilli.
  • Saute till the onions are soft.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, cover and cook till the tomatoes have released their water and become mushy.
  • Add a little water to create a nice gravy.
  • Add the ginger garlic paste and give it a good stir.
  • Add the spices, tomatoe paste, fenugreek leaves and about a cup of water.
  • Give everything a good stir and allow the mixture to come to the boil.
  • Add the peas and spinach, cover and allow to cook till the spinach wilts.
  • Add the cubed paneer and sugar and cook till the gravy has thickened and reduced.
  • Remove from the stove and garnish with the fresh coriander.

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