Sunday, March 29, 2015

Paneer and Butternut Squash Kashmiri Chili

Makes 10 servings

For the spice paste:

1 teaspoon fenugreek

   powder

1 teaspoon ground turmer-      ic

2 tablespoons garam

   masala

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground

   black pepper

6 ounces canned tomato

   paste

1/4 cup Kashmiri paste,

   such    as Tiger Tiger

   brand

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon peeled,

   grated ginger root

For the chili:

3 tablespoons canola oil

4 cups diced yellow onion

   (2 to 3 large onions)

1 tablespoon black sesame

   seeds, plus 2 teaspoons

   for garnish

28 ounces canned whole

   peeled plum tomatoes,

   preferably San Marza-

no, crushed with your

hands, plus juices

13/4 cups (11 ounces) red

   lentils, picked over and

   thoroughly rinsed in

cool water

8 cups homemade or

no-salt-added vegetable

broth

1 cup heavy whipping

cream

1 teaspoon salt, plus more

   for the squash

8 ounces chopped fresh

   spinach (4 cups, packed)

1 pound peeled, seeded

   butternut squash, cut

into 1-inch cubes (4

cups)

Freshly ground black

pepper

For the chili:

4 tablespoons (half stick)

   unsalted butter, melted

16 ounces paneer or queso

   blanco, cut into 1-inch

   cubes (about 2 cups)

2 cups plain yogurt, for

   garnish

1 cup chopped cilantro, for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. For the spice paste, combine the spices in a medium bowl.

3. For the chili, heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the onion and sesame seeds and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the spice paste and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.

4. Return the same pot to the stove. Add the lentils, broth, cream, and salt and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are soft. Stir in the chili mixture. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the spinach and cook for 5 minutes, until the spinach wilts.

5. While the lentils are cooking, roast the squash: Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the squash pieces in a large bowl and season them with salt and pepper, then stir in the melted butter and toss to coat the squash. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until the squash has softened but is still slightly firm.

6. Stir the squash into the chili, then stir in the paneer. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve immediately, garnished with yogurt, chopped cilantro, and black sesame seeds.

Notes: A good substitute for paneer is queso blanco, a Central American semi-soft curd cheese, available in most grocery stores. Kashmiri paste is also available in many grocery stores, and an Indian market has the additional ingredients. The chili can be made a couple of days in advance without the paneer and then reheated, with the paneer added just before serving. It can be frozen (also without the paneer) for up to three months.

- From David Hagedorn

Per serving: 560 calories, 24 grams protein, 44 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams sugar, 33 grams fat, 95 milligrams cholesterol, 1,070 milligrams sodium, 9 grams dietary fiber.
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