The Kashmiri Muslim cuisine and elements of the Kashmiri Pandit cuisine made an extraordinary dish called the tamatar chaman – Paneer ( Cottage Cheese ) with Tomatoes.
Use of onions, shallots and garlic is prevalent in the Kashmiri Muslim cuisine, be it the home cooking or the much fabled “Wazwaan”. On the other hand Kashmiri Pandit cuisine is sans onions and garlic especially in the “saal”, which is the equivalent of Wazwaan. The use of onions, in Pandit homes was allowed to an extent, in certain homely dishes but the use of garlic and shallots was unheard of.
The tamatar chaaman is a fusion between the wazwaan style Ruwaangan chaaman and the saal style Wozij chaaman. The main elements in the Ruwaangan chaaman are tomatoes, fried onions, garlic and red chillies with silky soft paneer, whereas the wozij chaaman is silky soft paneer cooked in fennel seed powder, red chillies and a dash of yogurt.
- 500gms pound paneer
- 500gms tomatoes – chopped
- salt to taste
- 2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
- 1/4 tsp hing
- 1/2 tsp shahi zeera (black cumin)
- 1/2 tsp sonth (ginger) powder
- 2tbs saunf ( fennel powder)
- 1/2 tsp kashmiri garam masala ( Or use Shaan Zafrani garam masala)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- Mustard oil for best taste.
- Put about 2 cups of hot water in a bowl. Add in the turmeric into to. Keep aside.
- Slice the paneer into thick rectangular slices.
- Heat some mustard oil (or any other oil you are using) for some shallow frying and fry the paneer one or two slice at a time. You basically just want to get a golden hue in places.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and dunk it in the waiting water turmeric mix.
- Continue to fry and dunk until all paneer gets the treatment.
- Take 2-3 tbs of the oil in which you fried the paneer in a different pan and add in the tomatoes to it.
- Add in the hing, cover and cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat.
- Stir and add salt. Cover and cook again for another 5 minutes or until the tomatoes are almost cooked to a paste.
- Add in the spices,except garam masala and zeera. Mix and cook until oil floats to top.
- Add in the paneer and along with the water it was basking in.
- Cook until oil floats to top again and you reach the desired consistency in gravy.
- Ideally this is slightly thick.
- Finish off with the garam masala and zeera . Cover and let it rest for 30 minutes before serving.