Traffic-lights paneer

Red, amber, green: three different curries to accompany paneer. Served with chapati, they make an exciting first course for young and old alike.

It’s a bit fiddly to make the three separate curries, and it takes the best part of an afternoon. But it’s worth it to get “This is the best ever” from little voices, talking about spinach!

Traffic-light paneer: three curries for a tri-coloured taste

Traffic-light paneer: three curries for a tri-coloured taste

I’ve made it this week especially for the Novice Gardener’s Fiesta Friday party, cohosted by Jhuls@The Not So Creative Cook, Selma@Selma’s Table, and Alex@Dinner Daydreams. I can’t wait to join in the fun and see what everyone else brings.

Traffic light paneer

  • Time: a couple of hours
  • Difficulty: moderate
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The directions for making the curries are further down the page (just scroll or click on the links in this first ingredients list). The trick is to make the amber and red first and the green last. You need to serve the green almost as soon as you stir in the green stuff (also known as spinach or chard) to preserve that bright colour.

Ingredients

Directions

  • Prepare the curries in this order: Red, then Amber, then Green, but hold back on the spinach/chard. Don’t mix that in just yet
  • Let the curries wait while you make the chapati using this recipe.
  • Finish the Green (palek paneer) by mixing in the spinach with the curry.
  • Stir through a little paneer into each of the curries and heat them for a few minutes to bring them up to serving temperature.
  • Pour each curry and paneer mix into individual bowls, top with the remaining paneer cubes.
  • Serve with chapati.

Traffic-light paneer: three curries for a tri-coloured taste, served with chapati

Traffic-light paneer: three curries for a tri-coloured taste, served with chapati

The curries: Red, amber, green

Here’s the red curry. It’s based on a basic rogan josh mix of spices, with capsicum and tomato to get that brilliant, traffic light red colour.It can be a bit fiery if you get carried away with the red chillis.

Red: The bright red curry

  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 large red capsicum, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons of crushed tomato
  • ½ a small onion, finely chopped
  • ½ a teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • ½ a teaspoon of ground coriander
  • a small pinch of turmeric (just enough for the taste)
  • red chilli to taste (we used 1 teaspoon of red chilli paste)
  • some grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste

Directions

  • Roast the capsicum: hold it over the gas flame or bake under a grill until the skin starts to blister. Pop it in a bag, then rub the skin off. You don’t need to do a perfect job: near enough is good enough here.
  • Prepare the spaces: saute the cumin seeds until they pop, then add the spices, onions, ginger and garlic and cook until the onions are soft.
  • Add the tomato, chilli and capsicum and cook for a few minutes. Stir in the tomato paste.
  • Tip this into a blender, and puree it, then return it to the saucepan and check the colour. If you need more ‘red’ stir in a bit more tomato paste
  • Turn off the heat until just before you want to assemble the traffic light.


Here’s the amber curry. This is delicious in its own right. We usually make more than we need, and have something yummy the next day.

Amber: Paneer masala

  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of poppy seeds
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 2 cloves
  • 3 peppercorns
  • chilli
  • 1 tablespoon of coriander seeds
  • 1 rounded teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves
  • 1-2 tablespoons of finely chopped tomatoes
  • up to ¼ cup of coconut cream (or evaporated milk, or plain cream)
  • water
  • salt

Directions

  1. To prepare the spices: Grind the poppy seeds, cloves, peppercorns, chilli, coriander, cumin in a mortar and pestle. Pour this into a blender with the onion garlic and ground cinnamon. Blend to a smooth paste.
  2. Saute the spices for a couple of minutes, then add the tomatoes and salt and cook for another  couple of minutes. You can then blend it again if you want a really smooth sauce.
  3. Slowly pour in the evaporated milk/coconut cream, stirring constantly. Stop when you have the colour you want. Mix well for 5 to 6 minutes. Add some water if it is a bit thicker than you want.
  4. Turn off the heat until just before you want to assemble the traffic light.


And now for the Green curry. It doesn’t keep the bright green overnight, but it is wonderful the next day if you use it like a chutney.

Green: Palek paneer

  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • a bunch of chard or spinach
  • a pinch of cumin seeds
  • ½ a small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cm of fresh ginger, grated
  • ½ teaspoon of ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoons of crushed tomato
  • chilli to taste

 Directions

  • Prepare the spinach: Wash the spinach then steam it until it is soft and bright green: this takes only a few minutes in our microwave. Drain it, and save the water for later on. Chop or puree the spinach and set aside.
  • Prepare the spices: Saute the cumin until the seeds pop, then add the onions and ginger and saute them too. Add all the other ingredients and cook for just a couple of minutes.
  • For extra smooth consistency, toss the spice mix in the blender, then pour it back into the saucepan. Turn off the heat until just before you want to assemble the traffic light.
  • Just before you assemble: pour the pureed spinach into the spice mix and heat it through. Add in some of the saved spinach water if you want a runnier consistency.
  • Then assemble the traffic light immediately.

Traffic-light paneer: three curries for a tri-coloured taste

Traffic-light paneer: three curries for a tri-coloured taste

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31 thoughts on “Traffic-lights paneer

  1. Nice! These look so delicious and effective with the colours. (I still remember turning my nose up at my mother’s spinach curry as a little girl, before finally tasting it one day and loving it.) It’s funny to find this recipe on my reader this morning, as I’m making paneer later!

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  2. Pingback: Fiesta Friday #17 | The Novice Gardener

  3. Oooh I love this!! I learned how to make paneer so we could have saag paneer, and ever since I’ve been wondering other ways to use it. This looks so fun and delicious! I can’t wait to try it! 🙂

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  4. Hmm, didn’t you feel exhausted after making these? 😀 They are so beautiful and very creative of yours to create paneers with three colors. Not only these are beautiful looking, but full of amazing flavors, too! 🙂

    Thank you for bringing these to FF. 🙂 Hope you are having a good time. Have a fab weekend! ❤

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  5. Brilliant idea to make the traffic light connection–and I’ve never made paneer so thanks for the recipe. I think my kids would love the spice blends and therefore overlook the color in favor of the flavor.
    Thanks!

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