Have you ever made a dish once, had it turn out perfect and then made it again following the same steps with still good – but not great – results? Sometimes I chalk this up to kitchen karma. But really it may be the quality of the ingredients you’re using. When I was recipe testing this paneer makhani recipe, on one trip to the market I found really juicy, richly red and ripe tomatoes. Another time, I remember being disappointed that the tomatoes weren’t so juicy and red but still seemed okay. I didn’t think much about it. The paneer makhani still turned out really delicious – creamy, a little tangy, spicy and sweet – but it required a few more “to taste” tweaks at the end and I knew it wasn’t as good as the prior version.
So if you can help it, buy the juiciest, ripest tomatoes you can find when cooking Indian food – it will make a difference.
I also peel the tomatoes to get rid of the skins for the paneer makhani curry. Removing the skins creates a really smooth puree and in turn a beautiful, elegant curry sauce that looks restaurant-like. I remember reading this post from Purple Food two years ago and being reluctant to peel tomatoes. Now I’m a believer and do it for dishes where tomatoes are the main ingredient of the sauce.
Here’s how to easily peel a tomato:
1. Use a paring knife to score each tomato with an X on the bottom. Keep a bowl of cold/ice water on hand.
2. Drop into a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
3. Remove to the ice bath and once the skin has started to peel and the tomatoes are cooled, you can easily peel the skin off with your hands.