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The Curry Diaries – (Mock) Paneer Curry

In The Curry Diaries on October 17, 2011 at 8:32 pm

I’ve had a “Bad India Day” (BID). It’s not the worst BID I’ve had but all BID’s are exhausting. Nothing particular has gone wrong just lots of little things. Including having no paneer for the curry! Oh crap!

I have a paneer substitute which may sound like good news but that’s actually the problem. I’m not going to be able to explain this without sounding like an expat princess so here goes: I have my shopping done for me by my driver. Once a week I write a shopping list. He drops Dean off at work, goes shopping and comes back in the afternoon with the bounty.

Shopping in India is hard work so I appreciate that this is a boon and that I have a driver with the skills to do it. However he does two things that really, really annoy me 1) he buys too much of everything and 2) he makes substitutes.

Generally if I don’t specify a quantity I get too much of it. Ah, ha I hear you cry – why don’t I just write down the quantities. Well of course you are right but I’m not always aware that I need to. For example, last week I asked for mozzarella, he bought a 1kg pack. I didn’t even know mozzarella came in that size. Now I know that it is very unlikely that 2 people will eat that much cheese in a week. I can either conclude that he doesn’t, so the mistake is justified, or he just didn’t think it through, in which case it’s not. Where does the line fall? It’s a difficult one and it’s complicated by cultural factors which I am aware of but I don’t fully understand. The only option is for me to keep drawing the line so it is clear; if he is the wrong side of it I can do something about it but hopefully in time he won’t be.

Even if I do write the quantity down get more than I asked for; 1/4kg beans is always 1/3kg beans and it’s the same for carrots and cauliflower. Last week I asked for 3kg tomatoes and I got 4! That happened with potatoes a few weeks ago.  An extra kilo of tomatoes or potatoes is a lot. I have fed this back; making that line clear. So unfortunately there may well come a time when I pass the cost back to him.

The thing that really gets my goat is substitutions. Last week I asked for Kingfisher beer and he bought Fosters. I was livid. I managed to explain calmly that neither Dean or I drink Fosters and that when I specifically ask for something that’s what I want. I have explained this before however Dean decided to let this one go as we have a friend arriving on Saturday and Fosters is his favourite.

I take all of this very personally; I think, who the hell does he think he is that he can decide what I eat and drink. But it’s not. It’s about communication itself and communication across a cultural divide.  That’s all very well but it’s still exhausting.

So here I am with paneer substitute – it’s low fat cottage cheese and it doesn’t taste that great. I’m loosely following the recipe below but without the butter and with yogurt instead:
Hopefully the taste will be masked by the spices! I’ll be back to master Paneer Curry soon.

Happy cooking!


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