Scrambled Paneer with peas, potatoes and mushrooms

Some things are created out of necessity.

I set out to make some form of an egg dish today. Some scrambled eggs with toast would make a nice, light dinner. But then I figured I’d make something more substantial that would also make a good lunch tomorrow. That’s when I thought of egg bhurji, a wonderful masala scrambled egg that is a great way to stretch what eggs you may have.

Unfortunately, things didn’t quite work out the way I wanted.

I started out chopping onions, musing on the fact that most Indian recipes seem to start there. Then I looked for a couple of tomatoes to chop in, but then remembered that I had used the last of them up on Sunday. No matter, I told myself, tomatoes aren’t a requirement, so get on with it. I imagined Tim Gunn in my kitchen telling me to “Make it work”. Sure I could do this. There was nothing to it.

I made short work of the mandatory potatoes for this dish. Mandatory for me, that is. I like the one-skillet egg and potato combination. I proceeded to pull out the carton of eggs from the fridge and found it to be much lighter than I’d hoped. Opening it up, I found it to be as empty as Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard was bare. My absent-minded husband had struck again, using up the eggs and sticking the empty box in the refrigerator.

Since I already had the onion base in the pan, I checked for alternatives. I located a block of paneer, some leftover mushrooms, frozen peas and not much else. Since by this point I had my heart set on the one thing I couldn’t have, the eggs, I decided to make the dish I wanted but with paneer instead, turning back to my pantry for help.

The paneer was summarily grated and I used a can of fire-roasted tomatoes in lieu of fresh ones. Putting everything together in somewhat of the same way I had planned to do the eggs, I spooned some onto some bread for a taste. The onions had caramelized nicely, the fire-roasted tomatoes had infused their concentrated flavour into everything. The spices and herbs were playing nicely together. The paneer was quite happily nestled amongst sheaves of onion, potatoes and peas.

Supper didn’t end up the way I planned it, but this was a more-than-suitable alternative. I imagine if you made this with fresh paneer crumbled in, it would be even better, but the grated block of store-bought paneer served well in its stead. You could leave out the mushrooms and/or peas and this would still come together quite well. Adjust the amount of chilli as per your taste. We ate some of it rolled up in some nice soft chapatis. Nothing makes your evening like a simple, satisfying meal.

Scrambled Paneer with peas, potatoes and mushrooms

Makes about 6 servings

Paneer – 14 oz, grated.

Onion – 1, large, sliced thin
Crushed fire-roasted tomatoes – 1 can (14.5 oz)
Potatoes – 2, halved then cut into thin slices
Peas – 1/2 cup
Mushrooms – 1/2 cup, sliced
Green serrano chillies – 5, minced
Garlic paste – 3 tsp
Ginger paste – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds – 2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Anise seeds – 1 tsp
Poppy seeds – 1 tsp
Dried tarragon – 1 heaped tsp
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for frying

– If you have freshly made paneer, that’s great. If you have a packaged block, grate it on your box grater’s coarsest plane.
– Heat the oil in a non-stick pan. When it heats up, temper with the mustard, cumin, anise and poppy seeds. Add the chillies, ginger and garlic pastes and slivered onions.
– Fry until the onion goes golden, then add the potatoes and fry for ten minutes.
– Add the fire-roasted tomatoes and stir to incorporate. Add the mushrooms and peas. Cover for few minutes for the vegetables to cook.
– Uncover and add salt, pepper and tarragon. Add the paneer. Mix everything and cook covered for another 15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through.

Serve with chapatis or bread.