Friday, February 10, 2017

Methi chaman

Indian cuisine is well known for offering a wide range of vegetarian dishes for its massive population that relies purely on meat free diet. An array of lentils and beans, an abundance of seasonal vegetables and paneer along with a wide selection of herbs and spices form the backbone of Indian vegetarian cuisine.
Indian cottage cheese or paneer is fresh cheese that can be easily made at home and requires no aging. It has a mild taste and  and soaks up the flavor of the spices its cooked in. It holds up well to frying and grilling and so is a great choice for curries and BBQ. This versatile ingredients is used to make a wide array of dishes ranging from starters to main dish to dessert. A fave among all you can find it in restaurant meals, home cooked food and street food.
Methi chaman is from the Kashmiri kitchen. Fresh methi greens are cooked with fried cubed paneer and buttermilk and flavored with bold spices such as ginger and fennel powder. There are several variations to this dish. You can use half methi and half spinach leaves to reduce bitterness and make it more kid friendly. You can also puree the greens rather than chop them. This makes for a smooth gravy like dish. I like the following version with the earthy rustic chopped fresh methi only.

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)
500 gm paneer
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 bunch of fresh fenugreek (methi) leaves
1 tsp ground fennel
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
A pinch of asafoetida powder
Salt to taste
1 tbsp Oil
  1. Remove any excess moisture from the paneer using a paper towel and then cut into bite sized cubes. These need to be fried lightly till the edges turn golden. You can use one of the following two methods for this. The baking method works well when making a large quantity for a crowd. 
  2. Frying method for paneer - Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a non stick pan over medium heat. Shallow fry the cubed paneer in batches till lightly golden on all sides. this should only take 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat onto a paper towel to remove excess oil. 
  3. Baking method for paneer - Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining with foil sprayed with some oil to prevent the paneer from sticking. Brush the paneer cubes with some oil in all sides and place them on the baking sheet in a single layer. Place in the hot oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, turning once in between. Do keep an eye as paneer can overcook quickly. 
  4. Soak them in buttermilk to keep soft. 
  5. Wash and drain the methi leaves to remove excess water. Chop them fine. 
  6. Heat oil in a pan and add asafoetida followed by cumin seeds. Let them roast for a few seconds before adding methi leaves. Fry for a minute and add all the spices and seasoning. 
  7. Add paneer cubes and buttermilk and mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered till the gravy thickens. Cook till the desired consistency is reached. I like it dry-ish. Serve hot.

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