canola oil for deep-frying, plus another 4 tablespoons of canola or grape seed oil for frying
500g paneer cheese
2 onions, finely chopped
200g pitted prunes, halved
2 cloves, crushed
500ml coconut milk
75g tomato paste (concentrated purée)
50ml maple syrup
½ cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon hot curry powder
½ teaspoon chilli flakes
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon flaked almonds
1 tablespoon pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 spring onion, green parts only, sliced thinly
grated zest of 1 untreated lemon
coriander leaves, to serve
500g Japanese short-grain rice
1 teaspoon sea salt


1.For the curry, heat an ample amount of canola oil in a tall saucepan.
2.Cut paneer into 1cm thick slices and then cut the slices into triangles.
3.Deep-fry the cheese pieces in the hot oil until they have a golden-brown crust.
4.Remove with a strainer and immediately place in a bowl of hot water.
5.Let soak for 15 minutes. (This makes the paneer softer and gives it a nice consistency). Then remove and drain.
6.Heat 4 tablespoons of canola oil in a frying pan, add the onions and fry over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
7.Add the prunes, cloves, coconut milk, tomato paste, maple syrup, the remaining spices and the salt to the onions in the pan and simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes.
8.Preheat the oven to 190°C.
9.Spread a bit of the prune sauce on the bottom of an ovenproof dish, place a layer of paneer on it and cover with sauce.
10.Repeat this process until all the ingredients have been used up, finishing with a layer of sauce. Bake for 25 minutes in the oven.
11.Wash the rice in a sieve until the water runs almost clear.
12.Bring to the boil with an equal amount of water, add salt, turn down the temperature to the lowest setting and cook for 10-15 minutes.
13.Remove from the heat and leave to stand, covered, for 10 more minutes.
14.Meanwhile, dry-roast the almonds and pepitas in a small frying pan and coarsely chop.
15.Remove the paneer curry from the oven and garnish with the almond-pumpkin seed mixture, spring onions, lemon zest and coriander. Serve rice separately.

Edited extract reproduced with permission from
Tel Aviv by NENI.
RRP $55, published by Murdoch Books.
Photography by Nuriel Molcho.

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