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Okra & Tomato Paneer

November 13, 2011

Tomato and Okra Paneer, Indian Food, Paneer Cheese

I’m from rural Missouri. So naturally, when I think of okra, I think of fried okra.  We eat it like it’s popcorn (a phrase coined by my dad). It’s salty, crunchy, warm, bite-sized, and a perfect nighttime snack while I watch an episode of Bizarre Foods.

Even though my favorite way to eat okra is fried–hands down, no contest–Indian-style is pretty darn good, too.

Health note: Garam masala is an aromatic composition of several herbs and spices, one of them being tumeric. This website lists 20 benefits of incorporating tumeric into your diet, including minimizing certain cancers and improving memory!

Special Equipment:

  • Colander or strainer
  • Cheesecloth



  • ½ gallon whole milk
  • 2-3 Tbs fresh lemon juice
Main Dish
  • 2 Tbs oil (grapeseed or canola)
  • 1 lb okra, sliced into ½ inch rounds
  • 1 c cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 ½ Tbs garam masala (or a
    combination of ground coriander, cumin,
    tumeric, nutmeg, star anise to taste)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½-1 c paneer
  • ¼ c coarsely chopped cilantro


Paneer (make ahead)

  1. Bring the milk to a boil in a large saucepan.  Once it boils, turn off the heat.
  2. Add the lemon juice (or vinegar) and stir until milk separates in to curds and whey.
  3. Pour the contents of the saucepan into a strainer lined with cheese cloth (double layer).  Allow the curds to drain and then squeeze as much moisture out as possible.  In order to form a more solid block, you can set something heavy (cookbooks, law books, whatever you have on hand) on top of the cheese and let it drain for a half an hour, or overnight in the refrigerator for firmer paneer.
Main Dish
  1. Heat the oil in a large pan.
  2. Add the onion and spices and cook until the onions are soft.
  3. Add the tomatoes and okra and cook until okra for 10-15 minutes or until tender.
  4. Remove the paneer from the refrigerator and slice into small cubes. Stir in the paneer and cilantro.
  5. Remove from heat.  Garnish the plated dish with a little extra cilantro and serve.

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