Curried Red Kidney Beans with Panir Cheese – a Punjabi specialty.
Adapted from Yamuna Devi’s Lord Krishna’s Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking

This is a classic & one of my best standby recipes to prepare for others. I make this for people who love Indian food and for people who don’t love Indian food. Everybody likes it. I’ve even brought it to an office potluck, where it actually got eaten & even gone back for by some folks. Conceptually, it’s not threatening and t’s easy to explain – it’s like Indian chili, I tell people. It is, except for there’s no garlic and onion in this recipe – you may certainly add it if you don’t feel you can have kidney beans without those additions, but the spicing makes the dish quite complete as it is. Panir can be found at Indian groceries – you still can’t find it at supermarkets or even Whole Foods, which is a shame, because it’s high in protein and generally low in fat. You can make it, but it’s even been a long time since I bothered to make panir, since you can buy it now without a problem. It’s like dairy tofu, basically – it picks up the flavor of whatever you cook it with. This dish is better the second day – when I have time I make it ahead.

1 lb. dried red kidney beans, soaked for eight hours or overnight

3 T. ghee or oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 T. ginger, minced

1 bay leaf
2 T. ground coriander
1 T. ground cumin
1/2 t. fennel seeds
1/3 t. ajawain seeds
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. turmeric

1 28 oz. can chopped tomatoes with juice
1 jalapeño, seeds and membrane removed, minced

3 T. ghee or oil
fresh panir made from 1/2 gallon milk, cubed or 8-10 oz. store-bought panir, cubed

salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 T. fresh lemon or lime juice
1/4 c. chopped cilantro

Heat 3 T. ghee or oil in a pressure cooker or large pot; place the onion, garlic, and ginger in when the oil is hot. Sauté briefly until almost translucent. Add spices all at once. Cook over medium heat until toasted and the raw smell has left them, about 3-5 minutes. Place tomatoes and jalapeño in pot and stir to mix. Drain kidney beans of their soaking liquid and add them to the pot, with enough water just to cover. Add pepper to taste but not salt. Cover and bring to a boil, (or place lid on cooker and bring to pressure) then reduce to a simmer and cook until beans are tender, 1 1/2-3 hours (25 minutes if pressure cooking).

In the meantime, heat 3 T. ghee or oil in a deep skillet; add panir. Sauté over low-medium heat, turning frequently, until lightly browned in places. Remove from heat and set aside.

When beans are cooked, add panir and simmer about 5 minutes to blend flavors. Season with salt and pepper to taste, fresh lemon or lime juice, and cilantro. Serve with brown rice, any Indian bread, or pita bread. A cucumber raita or salad is nice too.

Serves 6 to 8 and is even better the second day. Great for Crock-Pot cooking.

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