Dry Paneer Kalio: Cottage Cheese in Thick Indonesian Coconut Curry (Vegetarian)

An experimental fusion dish, combining Indonesia and Indian cuisines. Cottage cheese is cooked in a coconut milk curry similar to rendang.

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Deyana Goh
Deyana was born in Singapore and lives there. She is half-Chinese, half-Arab, with a grandmother who was born to an Arab family in Bogor, Indonesia. Deyana grew up eating Indonesian food as it is cooked in Arab-Indonesian households, and has fond memories of the festive whole chicken stuffed with lamb.

For a long time, I’ve been wishing my vegetarian friends could try rendang, Indonesia’s most famous dish. Rendang doesn’t contain any meat or meat-products except the main ingredient — usually beef or chicken. I’ve also wondered if paneer, or cottage cheese, which is used extensively in North Indian cuisine, could be incorporated into Indonesian cuisine.

I didn’t end up making rendang, but I did make its close relative known as kalio. This, as explained in the ayam kalio recipe, is similar to rendang. But for kalio, the cooking process stops before the coconut milk fully evaporates into the dark-brown rendang. Compared to rendang, kalio has more gravy and isn’t as time-consuming. For this recipe, I’ve used coconut cream instead of coconut milk, in reduced quantities. So instead of a curry, it’s a thick coconut sauce that’s almost as concentrated as rendang.

This is an interesting dish that is quite rich! The coconut milk and the Indonesian herbs add a new, refreshing twist to the usual Indian paneer dish. At the same time, because paneer is quite dense, it balances well with the richness of the dish. (I could have used tofu, but I feel that tofu is too light and airy to balance out the richness of the dish.) And best of all, it gives vegetarians the opportunity to try a classic Indonesian dish without compromising on the taste.

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This recipe is less spicy than the average Indonesian dish. It should be suitable for someone who can tolerate mild spice. 

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Dry Paneer Kalio: Cottage Cheese in Thick Indonesian Coconut Curry (Vegetarian)

Dry Paneer Kalio: Cottage Cheese in Thick Indonesian Coconut Curry (Vegetarian)

  • Author: Deyana Goh
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Category: Vegetables
  • Method: Sautéing
  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Paneer kalio is an experimental fusion dish, combining Indonesian and Indian cuisines. Here, cottage cheese is cooked in a coconut milk curry that’s similar to rendang.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 200g frozen paneer cubes
  • 120 ml coconut cream
  • 3 big red chillies, chopped
  • 5 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cm ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cm galangal, peeled and chopped
  • 1 lemongrass, bruised and sliced
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Defrost the paneer and soak in hot water for 10-15 minutes to soften. Drain and set aside.
  2. Blend into a fine paste: big red chillies, shallots, garlic, ginger, galangal.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over medium heat. Sauté the blended paste until fragrant, about 3 min. 
  4. Add the coriander powder, turmeric powder, lemongrass and lime leaves. Sauté for 1 min.
  5. Add the coconut cream. Bring to a boil. 
  6. Lower the heat and add the paneer. Let it simmer and stir at regular intervals to prevent the coconut milk from separating.
  7. When the coconut milk starts to thicken into a curry, about 30 min, turn off the flame and serve.

Notes

  • I’ve used store-bought frozen paneer, but fresh paneer is, of course, better. For store-bought paneer, remember to soak it in hot water for 10-15 minutes to soften it.

Keywords: Fusion, Experimental, Dairy, Indian-Indonesian food

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