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Silverbeet & Lentil Masala with Crispy Paneer and Eggplant Pickle

Widely used in Indian cuisine, paneer is a mild and creamy cheese that once fried, adds a delicious "meaty" element to this vegetarian curry.

Silverbeet & Lentil Masala with Crispy Paneer and Eggplant Pickle

Serves 4

Eggplant Pickle

750g eggplant, roughly chopped

1 tbsp salt

½ cup vegetable oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

10 curry leaves

2cm piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 green chilli, halved, de-seeded 

1 tsp turmeric powder

⅓ cup malt vinegar 

1½ tbsp caster sugar 

Masala

½ cup red lentils

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 small red onion, sliced

2cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

⅓ cup masala paste

400g chopped tomatoes

400ml coconut milk

8 stalks silverbeet, roughly chopped

200g paneer, thinly sliced

coriander leaves, to serve

To make the eggplant pickle, combine eggplant and salt in a colander and set aside over a bowl for 1 hour or until eggplant has softened and released liquid. Squeeze any excess liquid out of the eggplant and set aside.

Heat oil in a large heavy based saucepan over medium heat. Add mustard seeds and cook until they start to pop, add cumin seeds and curry leaves and cook for a further 30 seconds. Add ginger, garlic, chilli and turmeric and cook for 1-2 minutes or until golden. Add eggplant, vinegar and sugar. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10-15 minutes or until eggplant is tender but has not broken down. Set aside to cool completely.

To make the masala, place lentils with 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan over high heat, bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour or until lentils have just softened. Drain and set aside. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add onion, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes until onion has softened.

Add masala paste and cook for a further 2 minutes. Stir through tomatoes, coconut milk and ½ cup of water and bring to the boil. Add lentils, reduce heat to low and cook for a further 15-20 minutes. Add silverbeet and cook for a further 3-5 minutes or until just cooked.

Heat the remaining oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and cook paneer for 1-2 minutes each side or until golden.

Serve the masala with the crispy paneer, eggplant pickles and coriander leaves.

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