Friday, March 31, 2017

14 Paneer recipes

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.
Here is a collection of paneer recipes ranging from starters to main dish to dessert. Click on the titles to go to their detailed recipes. Happy cooking. 
These mini paneer cutlets are super cute and super yummy. A great appetizer dish that you can make ahead. Make them bigger to use as a burger patty. The main ingredient in here is grated paneer which constitutes almost 70% of the mix. Add a little potato to help bind the mixture. Apart from these you can add any veggie combination you like. Carrots, peas, beans, leeks, etc. Make sure to lightly steam or microwave cook the beans and peas before adding to the mix.

Tandoori paneer tikka
Soft chunks of paneer marinated in hung yogurt based marinade with tandoori masala and grilled to perfection with onions and peppers. Often served as a starter, paneer tikka has the char broiled flavor of the tandoor (clay oven) and is a great vegetarian alternative for BBQ. Marinated cubes of paneer are threaded through the skewers along with red onions, pepper chunks and mushrooms and grilled till they sizzle. Serve them with mint chutney as a starter and with Plain naan as a meal.

Haryali paneer tikka
Hara bhara paneer tikka or haryali paneer tikka is made with an array of herbs and spices and tastes fresh and herbaceous. I use hung yogurt as the base for the marinade. You can also use sour cream if you wish. Grid the green marinade fine using as little water as possible.
Tikkas are served as starters with drinks or as an accompaniment to the meal with raw red onion rings, salad greens, mint chutney, hot dipping sauce and even small bites of naan. Give hot tikkas a drizzle of lime juice and a sprinkle of chaat masala (a mix of spices with mango powder, cumin, black salt) for an exquisite flavor.
Kali mirch paneer tikka
Kali mirch paneer tikka is simple and quick to make. The coarse texture of peppercorns infuse a gentle heat to the succulent paneer pieces and red and green peppers add to the smoky charred flavor. Tikkas are served as starters with drinks or as an accompaniment to the meal with raw red onion rings, salad greens, mint chutney, hot dipping sauce and even small bites of naan. Give hot tikkas a drizzle of lime juice & a sprinkle of chaat masala for an exquisite flavor.

A flavorful dish to serve with naan or roti, karahi paneer has its roots in Mughlai cooking. Succulnt pieces of paneer and smoky peppers are cooked in a tangy tomato sauce with a hint of creaminess. Adjust the consistency as per your taste.

Matar paneer
Matar paneer is a tomato based peas and paneer curry from North India. Fried cubes of paneer and peas are simmered in an onion, tomato, ginger and garlic based gravy spiced with cumin, cloves, cinnamon and green chilies.

Detailed recipe

Palak paneer 
Spinach with cottage cheese is a rustic dish and an old favorite of Punjab (North India). Lightly fried cubes of paneer (Indian cottage cheese) and pureed spinach are simmered in an onion tomato gravy till flavors blend in. Palak paneer goes well with roti, paratha, naan and jeera rice with a side of raw onion rings and crisp green chilies. I make palak paneer in two different ways. One the more traditional recipe and the other a stir fried version which is much healthier and less calorie dense. Its not as creamy as the other version but taste awesome for those quick meals. So call it the shortcut method. Make sure to try them both.

Detailed recipe
Chaulia Paneer
This dish is very similar to matar paneer. Just use chaulia (green chickpeas) instead of peas. Fried cubes of paneer and chaulia are simmered in an onion, tomato, ginger and garlic based gravy spiced with cumin, cloves, cinnamon and green chilies. So shallow fry paneer cubes till lightly golden and keep aside. Make the gravy and add chaulia. Add the fried paneer and simmer for a bit to allow the flavors to blend in. Do not overcook the paneer as it gets rubbery. Serve with cumin rice or roti.

Detailed recipe

Paneer Stuffed Indian peppers

Stuffed peppers are a fave all over the world. A variety of fillings find their way into these beauties both vegetarian and meat fillings. Flavored with cheese, tomato and spices you can fill them with almost anything - beans, rice, ground chicken, quinoa or a combination of these; they all taste awesome.

Detailed recipe

Shahi paneer
Shahi paneer means a royal paneer curry. This tomato and yogurt based creamy dish with cubed paneer has a definite Mughal influence. It is mildly sweet in taste. Sweet nuttiness comes from the cashew paste, slight sour from the yogurt and rich smoothness from the cream

Detailed recipe

Methi Chaman
Methi chaman is from the Kshmiri 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.

Detailed recipe 

Malai kofta (paneer kofta curry)
Malai Kofta is a dish for special occasions and is a vegetarian version of meatballs. Koftas are fried dumplings. More popularly recognized as meatballs, koftas can be made from different ingredients such as lamb, chicken, vegetables, paneer. Fried koftas are immersed in rich silky gravy and accompanied by naan, tandoori roti or cumin rice.

Detailed recipe

Kalakand is a soft,moist delicious dessert very popular all over India specially during festivals and celebrations. Traditionally its made by boiling milk down to half its volume and combining it with paneer or cottage cheese, a tedious and long process. But a much simpler microwave version of the recipe takes about quarter the time and comes out as delicious. I have written down both recipes and have also tried both. The results are almost same. Try this recipe during the festive season this year and enjoy.

Detailed recipe
Coconut Laddo
For a real quick and delicious dessert make these bite sized delights. This is an almost no cook dish which is ready in minutes and tastes very delectable. Serve them at room temperature for a melt in the mouth treat.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Cedar planked Tilapia

On the plate
Cedar planked Tilapia
Roasted Mushrooms
Roasted Broccoli

If you have never experienced the delectable flavor of cedar planked fish then this is a must try recipe for you this summer. Fish cooks in its own moist juices, infused with the sweet smokiness of the cedar plank. Cedar plank cooking is not restricted to fish, you can use other types of meat as well. Serve right off the plank and the conversation is sure to revolve around the concept of cooking on planks.
Here I marinated tilapia fillets with olive oil and mustard. To balance the tartness of the mustard I drizzled a little ice wine syrup. The light sweetness of this syrup tastes awesome on this smoked grilled tilapia. Serve over crisp lettuce with grilled broccoli and mushrooms and a side of pineapple wedges. A totally wholesome and delicious lunch Buddha bowl.
Some thoughts on safety. Always exercise caution when using this technique of cooking. Make sure the plank is well soaked before cooking. The plank can catch fire on the edges after being on heat for a while. So have a spray water bottle handy for any flare ups. Also make sure the plank is completely extinguished before discarding it.

Cedar planked Tilapia
Ingredients: (serves 4)
4 boneless tilapia fillets
1 tsp olive oil
3 tbsp grainy mustard
cracked black pepper
salt to taste
1 cedar plank
1 tbsp ice wine syrup
  1. Pre heat your BBQ to medium high.
  2. Soak the cedar plank in water for 2 hours and then drain. Very lightly spray with oil.
  3. Rinse the fish fillets under cold water and then pat dry. Generously season the fillets with salt and pepper on both sides.
  4. Mix together olive oil and mustard. Spread this all over the fish.
  5. Place the fish on the prepared cedar plank. Place the plank on the hot grill. Cover the grill and cook till fish cooks through and reaches an internal temperature of 135 F. This will take about 20-30 minutes. Keep a spray water bottle handy for any flare ups.
  6. Transfer the plank carefully on a serving platter and drizzle with ice wine syrup. 
  7. Serve right off the plank.

Grilled Broccoli and Mushrooms
Ingredients: (serves 4)
1 lb white button mushrooms
1 whole head broccoli
olive oil
Freshly cracked black pepper
Salt to taste (optional)
  1. Trim the broccoli into medium sized florets. Clean the mushrooms.
  2. Drizzle olive oil on all of the above. Season with pepper. 
  3. Place on the pre-heated grill. Cook turning occasionally till slightly charred and tender. 
  4. Sprinkle salt just before serving if desired. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Sprouted methi seeds

Seeds, grains, beans and nuts are all filled with beneficial nutrients. Soaking and sprouting these seeds and beans replicates the germination process. This helps activate and multiply its micro-nutrients (particularly Vitamins A, B, and C), and makes them more bio-available by promoting the growth of vital digestive enzymes. Sprouting at home is an easy and inexpensive process, and requires minimal equipment. The process to sprout seeds, nuts, grains and beans is the same. Only the time required for germination changes. Here are some of the things you can sprout.
Pulses and beans - Moong beans, green lentils, adzuki beans, black eye beans, whole Bengal gram
Seeds - Alfalfa seeds, mustard seeds, methi seeds, chia, arugula, flaxseeds
Nuts - Almonds, Brazil nuts, Cashews, sunflower seeds

Here is the procedure I use for sprouting methi seeds. A little intro to these tiny golden seeds.
Fenugreek or methi (as its called in India) is the seed of the Trigonella foenum-graecum plant species, commonly used as a dried spice in East Indian cuisine. These golden seeds of the fenugreek plant are known for their fragrant aroma and a slightly bitter taste. Used in small quantity as a spice in stir fries and curries, methi seeds enhance the flavor of the food. In its fresh form methi leaves are consumed as stir fried leafy greens.

Fenugreek seeds
Sprouting Methi Seeds (Fenugreek seeds)
1/2 cup methi seeds
Strainer/Colander with a large diameter
Paper towel
Cheese cloth
  1. Soak methi seeds in water overnight.
  2. Rinse and wash the slime off the seeds. 
  3. Line the colander with some paper towel and spread the seeds on it. Place the colander on a mixing bowl and cover with a breathable mesh or cheese cloth.
  4. This arrangement is necessary so that air can circulate, and the water can drain off. Allow to sit in a well lit warm area.
  5. Repeat the rinsing process and spread fresh paper towel twice a day.
  6. The seeds will sprout and be ready to consume within 2-4 days depending on the temperature. In 5-6 days tiny leave will appear as well. 
  7. At any stage you can rinse well and store in a jar in the refrigerator. Consume within 2-3 days. 
  8. These beautiful sprouts make for a nutrient rich addition to salads, wraps and sandwiches. 
  9. The picture above is methi sprouts, red onion, cucumber and fresh coriander all tossed together with fresh lime juice and a hint of salt and pepper.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Black gram chaat

Kala chana, also known as black Bengal gram is a fave of mine. Apart from being delicious and versatile, it has an impressive nutritional profile. It contains a good amount of iron, sodium and selenium and small doses of manganese, copper and zinc besides being a very good source of fiber and folic acid. It is the richest source of proteins in legumes. Soak them overnight and then pressure cook in salted water. Sprout them to enhance their protein and vitamin content.

This dish here is sooo delicious and basically just a mix of flavors and textures. Just like a salad, throw in any fruit and vegetable you fancy and flavor as per your taste. I have mixed this one like a chaat with sweet, sour, salty and tangy flavors and soft and crunchy textures all in one. Try it. Guaranteed delicious.

Dry Bengal Gram
1 cup whole black gram (soaked overnight)
2 small potatoes, boiled and peeled
1 large tomato
1 medium red onion
1/2 cucumber
2 large green chilies
1 inch ginger
1 sprig fresh mint leaves (or 1 tsp dry mint)
Handful fresh coriander
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 tsp cumin seeds
Black salt to taste
1/2-1 tsp fine sugar
1/2 tsp amchur (dry mango powder)
Red chilli powder (to taste)
To serve
Seviyan and boondi
Raw mango (optional)
Pomegranate (optional)

  1. Place the soaked chana with a little water and a 1/4 tsp salt in a pressure cooker. Cook on high till the first whistle. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes. 
  2. While the beans are boiling, chop and dice boiled potatoes, onion, tomato, cucumber, green chilies, coriander, mint and ginger.
  3. If the cooked chana has some water left over, strain it and use the water for curry or soup. 
  4. Placed the boiled chana in a large bowl. Add all the chopped veggies and herbs. Add all the spices to taste. Add lime juice and zest and flavor with the mint and tamarind chutney. As you add all these spices and sauces, taste every so often to check the sweet, salty and sour ratio.
  5. Add chopped sour raw mango and/or pomegranate seeds, if using. Mix well.
  6. Serve cold or at room temperature as a starter. We have even had this for lunch as a salad.
  7. Just before serving sprinkle seviyan and fried boondi on top for the crunch.  

Friday, March 3, 2017

Zucchini Fritters

This recipe here is my take on the zucchini fritters, using ingredients from the Indian pantry and keeping it strictly vegetarian. These quick and easy savory pancakes are perfect for breakfast or snack or as a component of my vegetarian buddha lunch bowl. Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream flavored with garlic and herbs. A few handful of ingredients and you get yourself a wholesome platter of goodness. The proportions given in the recipe below are only guidelines. You can certainly add more zucchini. Just remember that grated zucchini has a lot of water content, and the batter should be of a pancake consistency. You can also omit the corm flour and only use chickpea flour instead. I love the flavor of dill in this mix. As a variation, add fresh parsley or mint instead.

Ingredients: (makes a dozen small fritters)
2 large Zucchini
1/2 cup Besan (chickpea flour)
1/2 cup superfine cornmeal (yellow cornflour)
1 tbsp plain yogurt
Salt to taste
Freshly grated pepper
Small handful fresh dill
Oil for frying
  1. Grate zucchini in a large mixing bowl. No need to squeeze out the water as you will need some moisture to get a droppable batter. 
  2. Add the two flours, seasoning, yogurt and dill.
  3. Mix everything, to make a thick batter (pancake consistency). Add water as required to get the correct consistency.
  4. Heat a non stick flat pan on medium heat and grease with  a little oil. Add a ladle full of batter to the pan to make a 3 or 6 inch diameter pancake. The ones in the picture are small 3 inch diameter pancakes. 
  5. Drizzle or spray a little oil on top and flip to cook on both sides. 
  6. Serve hot with a little yogurt dip on the side.