Also called paneer or fresh cheese, milk curd is a staple of Indian vegetarian cuisine that is created when milk is curdled with an acidic agent such as lemon juice, yoghurt, buttermilk or citric acid. Once the whey is drained off, the solid that remains is delicious in a variety of preparations including curries, casseroles, burger patties and deep-fried Indian pastries such as samosas, kofta balls and pakoras.
This recipe is a delicious vegetarian substitute for scrambled eggs, and is made by combining crumbled curd, cooked tomatoes and peas. Quick to make, itís great with toast for a breakfast treat or accompanied by rice, as a hearty evening meal.
Scrambled curd is also extremely versatile. You can play around with it, using whatever ingredients and spices are easily available or in season. For example, the dried peas which I usually use can be substituted with fresh or canned peas, home-grown beans or other vegetables. Similarly, if coriander isnít easily available where you live, parsley or other fresh herbs can also be used, or simply a shop-bought dried herb mix.
4 litres of milk
4 medium lemons
1/3 cup dried peas
1 400g can of diced tomatoes
Half a teaspoon grated ginger
One small chilli
Half a teaspoon cumin seeds
Half a teaspoon mustard seeds
A third of a teaspoon of asafoetida (hing)
One tablespoon turmeric powder
1 bunch of coriander or parsley
Pour the milk into a large saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring carefully. While itís heating, juice the lemons.
When the milk boils, turn off the heat and add the lemon juice very slowly, gently stirring as the curd separates from the whey. Sometimes Iíll keep the heat on at a very low temperature (not high enough to boil over), as this seems to aid the separating process. Youíll know the process is complete when the whey appears to be a translucent yellowish colour, and the curd solid and white, with the appearance of cottage cheese.
When the curd and whey have separated, leave them for five to ten minutes so they can cool down slightly. *Using a colander, then strain the whey from the curd. If you desire, the whey can be used for cooking rice or boiling vegetables.
Putting the curd aside, take a medium wok or saucepan and pour approximately 2 tablespoons of olive oil into it.
After heating this at a medium temperature, place half a tablespoon of grated ginger, a quarter teaspoon of cumin seeds, a quarter teaspoon of mustard seeds and one small chilli, diced (optional), into the hot oil and cook until the seeds are brown and pungent.
A third of a teaspoon of asafoetida can then be added, followed quickly by the can of diced tomatoes. *This needs to be done in rapid succession or the spices will burn. If you have fresh tomatoes, these can be diced and used instead of the canned ones.
Cook the mixture on a medium flame until it boils, and the tomato pieces break down, almost to a puree. *If desired, a small amount of sugar can be added. *Leave the mixture to simmer for about five minutes.
While the tomato mixture simmers, the dried peas can be cooked in boiling water and when soft drained.
After crumbling the curd, add this to the spiced tomato sauce and stir gently.
The cooked peas can then be added.
Add salt and pepper to taste, and turmeric to give it a lovely yellowish colour. Some people also like to add about half a cup of sour cream or yoghurt, but this is entirely optional.
Taking the mixture off the heat, wash a bunch of fresh coriander and slice it finely. This can then be added. If coriander is hard to find, parsley will also suffice.