Sana Thongba from Manipur – A Simple Paneer Curry

17th April, 2014

Manipur Sana Thongba %%

Manipur is a state in the Northeast India, with Imphal as the capital. The state is bordered by Nagaland, Mizoram, Assam and Burma. Manipur is one of the states in the group called the Seven Sister States. Manipur literally means the ‘land of jewels’ and is one of the very beautiful places on earth. Manipur has an exotic landscape with gently undulating hills, beautiful green valleys, blue lakes and dense forest.

Manipuri cuisine is very simple and mostly uses organic and fresh ingredients. The Manipuri’s raise vegetables in the garden and grow fishes in a small lake or pond behind the houses. The dishes are typically spicy, but they use chili peppers for flavor and spice rather than using any kind of masala.

The recipe that I made today is a very good example of the simplicity of the cuisine, yet bringing out the most wonderful flavor from the food. This was one dish that truly amazed me by its flavors. I had used no spice absolutely except turmeric and cumin and yet the dish was so flavorful. This dish was a very big success with my boys and I would definitely be making this more often. This recipe is made during Usop, which is a traditional Hindu Manipuri feast and is considered one of the tastiest vegetarian dishes

The only change that I did to the dish was that I used tofu instead of paneer. The dish absolutely did not miss the paneer.

Manipur Sana Thongba %% 

Preparation time – 10 minutes
Cooking time – 30 minutes
Difficulty level – easy

Recipe Source – Open Challenge to plastic fast foods

Manipur Sana Thongba %%

Ingredients – (serves 6)

  • Paneer (I used firm tofu) – 450 grams (chopped into ½ inch pieces)
  • Potato – 1 large (peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces)
  • Onion – 1 large (Thinly sliced)
  • Green peas – ½ cup
  • Green chilies – 4-5
  • Milk – 1 ½ cup
  • Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
  • Oil – 2 – 3 tbsp
  • Salt – to taste
  • Cilantro – few for garnish
Manipur Sana Thongba %%
Procedure –
  • In a wide pan, heat the oil and add the cumin seeds. When the seeds splutter, add the sliced onions and sauté for about 3 minutes.
  • Now add the cubed paneer (or tofu) and then fry in medium flame until it turns light golden.
  • Now add the potatoes and fry it for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Next add the peas and sauté for few more minutes until the peas becomes slightly soft. 
Manipur Sana Thongba
  • Add the turmeric powder and salt and mix it gently.
  • Now add about 1 to 1 ½ cups of water and cook covered, until the potatoes are soft and completely cooked.
  • Open the pan and add the milk. Reduce the flame to simmer and let the curry come to a gentle boil. Do not cook on high heat since the milk would curdle. As soon as the curry comes to a gentle boil turn off the flame right away as otherwise the milk would curdle. 
Manipur Sana Thongba
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve warm with rice or roti’s. When reheating the curry, heat it in low power in the microwave or in low flame.

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