* cut in 1/4 by 1/4 by 1 1/2-inch pieces ** or frozen peas, defrosted This ivory-white dish with its shimmering glaze is indeed, as the name suggests, a royal entree. The vegetables are carefully chosen so that they will go perfectly with the flavorings. Except for the carrots, only light-colored vegetables are chosen, to blend harmoniously with the almond-yogurt sauce. The vegetables are carefully cut to a uniform size to make them look attractive. If you are running short of time, you may substitute for the paneer 1 additional medium-sized potato, cut like the others.
This korma is one of the most elegant vegetarian entrees you can serve. It can also be folded into plain cooked rice and transformed into another mouthwatering delicacy, Royal Vegetable and Rice Casserole.
Peel potatoes, turnips, and carrot, and cut them into uniform 1/4 by 1/4 by 1 1/2-inch pieces. Put them in a bowl of cold water to prevent discoloring, and set aside.
Heat 3 tablespoons of the shortening over medium heat in a large heavy-bottomed pan, preferably one with a non-stick interior. When the fat is hot, add the cheese pieces very carefully. Keep a saucepan lid or spatter screen handy, since the moisture in the cheese may be released and cause tiny particles of cheese to fly all over. Dusting the paneer pieces with a little flour will prevent splattering. Fry the cheese until lightly colored on both sides (about 5 minutes), turning and tossing often to prevent sticking and burning. Transfer the cheese to a bowl, and set aside.
Add the remaining shortening to the pan along with the onions, garlic, ginger, and chiles. Increase heat to high, and fry the seasonings until they turn light brown (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly to prevent uneven browning or burning. Add cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves, and continue frying for an additional 5 minutes. Add almond powder, stirring rapidly, and fry for 2 more minutes.
Add 2 tablespoons of the yogurt and fry the mixture. When the moisture from the yogurt evaporates, add 2 more tablespoons of yogurt. Continue adding yogurt and frying until the entire cup is used up (about 5 minutes). Stir constantly while frying, making sure hat the sauce does not stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.
Drain and add the vegetables. Add the fresh green peas (if you are using frozen peas do not add them now), salt, and 1 1/2 cups hot water to the sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook the vegetables, covered, until tender but still firm (about 30 minutes). Add fried cheese pieces, heavy cream, and frozen peas (if you are using them). Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. The sauce should be thick in this korma. If the sauce is not thick enough, increase heat to medium and simmer until the sauce thickens to the desired consistency. If, on the other hand, the sauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of milk or water. Check for salt, and serve.
Note: This dish definitely tastes better if prepared a day ahead, refrigerated, and reheated before serving. It keeps in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It also freezes well. Defrost thoroughly before reheating. The freezing process sometimes produces a thick and grainy texture. If this happens, add enough milk or water to bind the sauce while it is simmering. Taste, and if necessary add salt. To perk up flavors add 1/2 teaspoon Mughal garam masala.
This gorgeous dish may be served with either bread or rice. Deep-fried Puffy Bread, Whole Wheat Flaky Bread, Sweet Saffron Pilaf, Fragrand Pilaf Banaras Style, or Saffron Pilaf with Peaches are all good choices. A side dish of Buttered Black Beans goes perfectly with this meal. Fresh Mint Relish, Hot Hyderabad Tomato Relish, and Onion Relish all go well. Sweet Lemon Pickle with Cumin is nice if you want to add a pickle. Precede the meal with spicy fritters such as Cauliflower Fritters or Onion Fritters, or serve Fragrant Stuffed Tomatoes. Mulligatawny Soup also makes a lovely first course.