I love anything and everything cooked in mustard oil. But I know that it is not something that everyone would like easily. It has a strong and pungent flavor and tastes wonderful in Indian pickles. I love to use it when I make parathas (Indian flat breads), especially the stuffed ones, or even with vegetables like cauliflower or potatoes. This is one dish that can only be made with mustard oil. The recipe was given to me by a Kashmiri friend. And this is my version of what I remember. I had tasted this the very first time several years ago on my visit to Kashmir and had fallen in love with the taste. It is different and wonderful. The gravy is almost like a thin milky broth but it is highly flavorful. I remember eating this with plain rice and haak (which is a green leafy vegetable that tastes somewhat like collard greens and I believe is local to Kashmir). I tried to recreate that meal by using kale to go along with the plain rice and paneer.
Ingredients for paneer
1 cup water (or just enough to cover the paneer cubes)
1 tsp turmeric (haldi)
1 tsp dry ginger powder (saunth)
1/2 tsp fennel seed powder
1tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black pepper
2-3 green chillies
2-3 dry red chillies
3/4 cup whole milk
Shallow fry the paneer cubes in mustard oil till they are golden brown. (The original recipes calls for deep frying but I was quite happy with the shallow fried taste). Take water in a pot and bring it to a boil along with fennel seeds powder, ginger powder, cloves, asafoetida and turmeric. Let it simmer for a few minutes. Now add the fried paneer in this water. I did not drain the oil I used for shallow frying as it was not too much and it adds to the flavor of the dish. Cover and let it simmer for at least 5 minutes. Add salt according to taste. Now pour the milk in it. Crush the raw cumin seeds and add to it along with cracked black pepper, sliced green chillies and whole red chillies. Simmer for another 1-2 minutes.
For the greens. Trim the stems of the kale leaves and give a rough chop to it. Take a deep heavy bottom pan or pressure cooker. Heat enough mustard oil and once it is smoking hot add asafoetida and plenty of dry red chillies. I like the flavor of garlic so I added whole garlic cloves in it and let them caramelize. Now add the kale leaves, salt and some water. Cover it with the lid and let it cook till the leaves wilt. It is that simple but very flavorful when served along with steaming hot rice with a dollop of ghee and the peela paneer (yellow paneer). It was the ultimate comfort food for me.