Simmering away on the stovetop, filling the kitchen with aromas from sweet cinnamon, spicy clove and hot chillies, used to be this wozij Chaaman in my Grandma’s home. She is almost 78 now and still feels pleased to cook a meal for all her grand-kids or for anyone visiting her.
My Grandmom inspires me. Her story gives me courage and conviction to face life each day. Her deep set eyes, surrounded by wrinkles, light up every time she sees one of her grandkids or their kids. She looks forward to our visits and starts planning for them days in advance by instructing people to not harvest the tiny Kashmiri eggplants, pumpkin leaves and zuccini flowers, keeping an eye out for the street kids who otherwise help themselves to the mangoes or guavas so she can save them for us, making a batch of pickle or chutney and sun drying gourds, eggplants and tomatoes and sometimes even anchovies. All this to make us feel welcome and to be able to give us some parting gifts when we leave.
She sits and knits doll clothes with my daughter and takes pleasure in teaching her how to knit or sew. The two of them can spend hours together in each other’s silent company – each doing her thing and yet connected.
My Grandmother shows her love through food and we receive it and take it as a blessing. This is her recipe.
Wozij Chaaman – Paneer cooked in Spices
- 1 pound paneer
- Salt to taste
- 1.5 Tbs Kashmiri chilli powder use less for a milder curry
- 1.5 Tbs saunf powder
- 1 /2 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- ¼ tsp shahi zeera
- 1/4 tea spoon hing
- ½ tsp Kashmiri Garam masala recipe in files
- 3- 4 cloves .. slighltly crushed
- 2- 3 green cardamom slightly crushed
- 2 brown cardamoms
- Mustard oil
- ¼ tsp turmeric soaked in 2 cups hot water in a big pan
- Begin by cutting the paneer into cubes/rectangles/squares
- Heat the oil in a pan and fry the paneer – 2 -3 pcs at a time and put them in the pan with turmeric water.
- Once you have fried all the paneer, take a couple of TBS of oil from the frying into a separate pan and add in the cumin and wait for it to splutter, add the hing and then add both the cardamom, cloves and saute.
- Add in the chilli powder and immediately add some water..about 2- 3 tbs to help chilies cook without burning. Add in the rest of the spices except the shahi zeera. Continue to stir until water evaporates and a deep reddish oil starts to float.
- Now add in the paneer along with the water and bring it to a rolling boil, then lower heat to simmer, cover and cook for 25-30 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed and oil floats to the top.
- Add in the shahi zeera, cover and let it infuse for 2-3 minutes. Switch of heat. Enjoy with rice.