Sunday, June 29, 2014

Chili Paneer... {Recipe #5 of Paneer Series}

Chili Paneer

#Worldcup fever is on its top which indispensably has affected our daily routine. We are sleeping way too late since the beginning of this mega event and this will continue till the final game for sure. So I have to adjust my daily schedule according the match schedules however tough it may seem given that our time difference with the host country Brazil is 8 and half hours! But with the building excitement with every match, I can forgive and forget this temporary pain to witness some fantastic plays of our era!

Chili Paneer

As we enjoy the thrilling moments of the knock-out rounds, I am sharing my final recipe of the cottage cheese series which you can savor while glued to your couch. This is a spicy quick bite perfect for evening snack. This will also be great to serve to a large gathering as you may love to cheer your favorite team with all friends and families. Simply keep the cheese cubes fried before-hand and toss them up in the sauce just before serving. Serve hot and cheers!

Ingredients –
  • Paneer (Cottage Cheese) – 200 gms, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • Corn flour – 2 tbsp
  • All-purpose flour (Maida) – 2 tbsp
  • Onion – 1, medium, cut in big chunks
  • Green bell pepper – 1, medium, cut lengthwise
  • Garlic cloves – 6 to 8, grated (I use little more garlic since I like its flavor, you can reduce to 2 to 3 cloves)
  • Ginger – 1 inch piece, grated
  • Green chili – 3 to 4, cut lengthwise and deseeded
  • Dark soy sauce – 2 tbsp
  • Tomato ketchup – 2 tbsp
  • Green chili sauce – 2 tbsp
  • Sugar – 1 tsp
  • Oil for deep frying
  • Salt to taste

Chili Paneer

Method –
  • Mix the cornflour and plain flour in a bowl with half a teaspoon of salt. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of water (not all at a time) to make a smooth paste not too thin. It should be thick enough to coat the paneer cubes lightly.
  • Heat enough vegetable oil in a deep frying pan. Dip each cheese cubes into the flour batter and lift up to let the excess batter drain out.
  • Tip them in the hot oil and fry till they are lightly golden brown. Fry the paneer cubes in batches without crowding too many in the pan at a time.
  • Put them on a kitchen towel to absorb excess oil. Set aside.
  • Now heat some oil in a pan. Add grated garlic & ginger, green chilies and onions and stir them for a minute.
  • Tip in the capsicum and stir fry on medium-high heat for 5 minutes.
  • Add tomato ketchup, green chili sauce and soy sauce to the vegetables and mix them well.
  • Add half a cup of water and let it boil for about 2 minute. Add salt keeping in mind that all the sauces are already salty; so go easy on salt. You can taste and adjust anytime later.
  • Now add the fried paneer cubes to it and cook it for another 2 minutes till the cheese cubes are coated all over with the sauce.
  • If you have some spring onion handy, sprinkle the chopped green portions of them to garnish and serve hot. Best enjoyed as a starter or with vegetable fired rice.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Palak Paneer... {Recipe #4 of Paneer Series}

Palak Paneer

My Paneer series wouldn’t be complete without the quintessential ‘Palak Paneer’! This is nothing but cottage cheese cubes cooked in a lovely green sauce made of fresh spinach leaves. This is one dish which you will find in the menu of every restaurant across India. I love it because of the freshness which comes from the spinach – so make sure you get the freshest possible leaves.

Spinach
These are the fresh produce of spinach leaves in our own tiny kitchen garden! Yeah, this was not enough for this dish but definitely made their contribution too!

I don’t overpower my palak paneer with too many spices. I just lightly flavor the oil with some whole garam masalas like cinnamon and cardamom (we Indians refer the cinnamon, cardamom and cloves as ‘Garam Masala’ since ages but I am not sure how this name came into existence!) which lends a lovely hint of aroma to the freshness of spinach making it absolutely delicious. This would be a great combination with plain Basmati rice or some buttery hot naan.

Palak Paneer

Ingredients – (Serves 4)
  • Paneer (Cottage Cheese) – 200 gms
  • Palak (Spinach) – 4 standard bunches (approximately 250 to 300 gms)
  • Onion – 1, large
  • Tomato – 1, large
  • Cinnamon stick – 2 inch
  • Green cardamom – 4 to 5
  • Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
  • Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
  • Cumin powder – ½ tsp
  • Garam masala – ½ tsp
  • Oil – 3 to 4 tbsp (For best taste, use Ghee (Clarified butter) instead of oil)
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh cream – 1 tbsp (optional)

Palak Paneer

Method –
  • Trim off the fat stems of the palak and retain only the leaves. Try to get the freshest spinach leaves as it will give you the ultimate best taste.
  • Wash the spinach leaves thoroughly as they generally have too much dirt. Set aside.
  • Chop the onion and tomato to small pieces. In a skillet heat the oil. When hot, temper with cumin seeds, cinnamon sticks and green cardamoms and let them flavor the oil for a minute.
  • Add the chopped onion and sauté till golden brown. Tip in the chopped tomatoes and sprinkle some salt for the tomatoes to cook faster.
  • When the tomatoes look cooked and the oil starts separating, add the turmeric powder, cumin powder and salt. [Add salt cautiously since the palak reduces in volume tremendously, so it’s an easy mistake to overdo the salt. You can always add it later after doing a taste test.]
  • After frying the powdered spices for a minute or two, add the washed spinach leaves. You can chop the leaves to smaller pieces but that’s not mandatory as we are going to blend it anyway.
  • Spinach leaves will leave a lot of water and wilt down within couple of minutes. Stir them in the spices for five minutes to get rid of the raw smell of spinach.
  • Now it’s time to blend, but before that you can try to fish out the cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods or if you like their strong taste, you can leave them too.
  • If you have a hand blender, you can blend directly in the skillet or else you can transfer it to your blender and blend it till it becomes a smooth green puree. Add some water if needed and transfer it back to the cooking pot.
  • Let the spinach puree boil and in the meantime cut the cottage cheese into 1 inch cubes. I generally simmer the paneer cubes in boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes as this makes them quite soft.
  • Now add the paneer cubes to the spinach gravy and let them simmer for 5 minutes. Stir carefully as the paneer cubes may tend to break.
  • Adjust the consistency of the gravy according to your liking and you can also add fresh cream to make it more rich and creamy.
  • Now put off the flame and sprinkle some garam masala all over. Keep it covered for few minutes before serving.
  • Enjoy the hot palak paneer with plain Basmati rice, butter naan or roti.
Check out more paneer delicacies -

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Shahi Paneer... {Recipe #3 of Paneer Series}

Shahi Paneer

My first trip outside India was quite memorable. Though I could not wander and explore Athens as much as I wanted to due to lack of company, but still the brief experience was so much enriching that I can ignore what I missed for the time being. And of course I will come back to this amazing country and soak up in its beauty once again. Next time the added benefit would be that I will have my best friend’s company who is incidentally my better half too! ;)

This time thankfully I got a long weekend during my stay and had spent a wonderful time with my brother who happens to stay in Zurich. We explored couple of islands of Greece, Hydra being one of them which is an amazingly beautiful place where even a week’s time of vacation won’t be enough. You will simply want to be lost by the deep blue Aegean Sea and walk leisurely by the coast lined with beautiful boats and yachts. Such experiences are hard to describe in words. May be a picture can help to take a peek!

Hydra

An interesting fact about Hydra is that it’s an eco-island where the only mode of transport is donkey as cars or motorcycles are not allowed by law.

With my Greek experience, let’s come to today’s recipe – 3rd in the row of Paneer series – the Shahi Paneer! ‘Shahi’ literally means ‘royal’ and according to me this is an absolutely apt name. This dish is so rich and aromatic with the Indian spices and especially due to the addition of almond/cashew paste, it is nothing less than a royal treatment to your taste buds.

Shahi Paneer

Ingredients –
  • Paneer – 200 gms, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • Onion – 1, large, chopped
  • Homemade tomato puree – ¾ cup
  • Garlic – 5 to 6 cloves, grated
  • Ginger – 2 inch piece, grated
  • Green chili – 1 or 2, slit
  • Cloves – 4 to 5
  • Green cardamom – 4 to 5
  • Cinnamon stick – 1 inch piece
  • Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
  • Cumin powder – ½ tsp
  • Coriander powder – ½ tsp
  • Cardamom powder – ¼ tsp
  • Sugar – 1 tsp
  • Almond paste (or Cashew paste) – ¼ cup
  • Cream – ¼ cup (optional)
  • Oil – 4 tbsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Mint or cilantro to garnish

Shahi Paneer

Method –
  • To make almond paste, soak 12 to 15 almonds in boiling water for few minutes. One the almond become little soft, their skin will come off easily. Remove all skin and make a smooth paste of the almonds using as little water as possible. [You can replace almond paste with cashew paste made in a similar way.]
  • If using store bought paneer, simmer them for couple of minutes in boiling water. I do this step as it makes the cottage cheese quite soft. After two mintes, drain the water out and set them aside.
  • In a skillet, heat 2 tbsp oil. Once the oil is hot, temper it with cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. Stir them till they are fragrant.
  • Add the grated ginger and garlic stirring continuously since garlic tends to burn very easily. Tip in the chopped onion and green chilies. Sauté till the onion turns soft and golden brown.
  • Now transfer this mixture to a blender and blend it to a smooth paste.
  • Heat the remaining 2 tbsp oil in the same skillet and add the onion paste. Cook till oil separates.
  • Now add the almond paste and stir to mix well.
  • Add the tomato puree and sprinkle some salt along with all the powdered spices – turmeric, cumin, coriander and cardamom powder. Cook until the raw smell of tomato puree disappears for around 10 minutes.
  • Drop in the paneer cubes and stir gently so that the cheese cubes are coated well with the spice mixture. In case the gravy turns too dry add half a cup of water and give a gentle stir.
  • Let it simmer for 5 minutes so that the paneer absorbs all the flavors from the aromatic spices.
  • If you want to use cream, then add it now under low heat and mix well. [Never add cream under high heat as it may curdle the cream.]
  • Once the gravy has the desired consistency, remove from heat. Garnish with mint leaves and serve hot with roti or naan.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Garlicy Paneer Tikka... {Recipe #2 of Paneer Series}

Paneer Tikka

Time for my second recipe in the Paneer/Cottage Cheese series and with this recipe my blog has touched its first milestone – the 100th post of my blog! I am way too happy and would like to share this moment of joy with all my readers. Thanks to all of you I have kept my blog running and hope to do so for a long, long time.

Paneer Tikka

Today I am sharing an old recipe which I had made during the early days of my oven-cooking. I had no idea how these garlicy tikkas would come out before taking the first bite. Oh man! These literally just knocked me out! I had actually skipped my dinner to have these mind-blowing tikkas to my heart’s content even though I am not a paneer lover. The cheese cubes marry the strong garlic taste too well to describe. Even if you do not like garlic much, I would still encourage you to give it a try – you won’t regret!

Ingredients –
  • Paneer (cottage cheese) – 850 grams, cut into 1½ inch cubes
  • Garlic paste – 2 tbsp
  • Tandoori masala powder – 2 tbsp
  • Hung yogurt – 300 gms
  • Cream – 3 & ½ tbsp
  • Garlic – 5-6 cloves, chopped
  • Green chili – 1, chopped
  • Fresh coriander leaves – 2 tablespoons, chopped
  • Red chili powder – 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder - ½ tbsp
  • Garam masala powder – 1 & ½ tbsp
  • Carom seeds (ajwain) powder – 1 tbsp
  • Chaat masala – 1 tbsp
  • Roasted chana dal powder – 4 tbsp
  • Vinegar – 1 tbsp
  • Oil – 2 tbsp
  • Salt to taste

Paneer Tikka

Method –
  • Slit the cottage cheese cubes through the middle without cutting till the end.
  • Mix one tablespoon of the garlic paste and tandoori masala in a small bowl. Stuff this mixture into the slits of the cottage cheese cubes with your fingers. Set aside.
  • Mix together the yogurt, cream, remaining garlic paste, the chopped garlic, green chili, fresh coriander, salt, chili powder, turmeric powder, garam masala powder, carom seed powder, chaat masala, roasted gram flour, vinegar and oil in a bowl.
  • Soak the stuffed cottage cheese in this marinade and set aside for around two hours in a refrigerator.
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C. Thread the cottage cheese cubes one inch apart onto the skewers.
  • Cook them in the preheated oven for eight to ten minutes. Serve hot with salad and green chutney.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Kadhai Paneer... {Recipe #1 of Paneer Series}

Kadhai Paneer

I have had Mediterranean food in India but when I had the authentic version in Greece I realized that ours are highly Indianized to suit our taste bud! I loved the authentic Greek food which compliments their beautiful country and I have remained always confused to decide which one is better – their food or their beautiful islands. What do you think?


During my stay in Greece, I also realized that it may be little difficult for pure vegetarian Indians to have a satisfied meal while eating out and more so because most of us are not yet too comfortable having salad lunch or dinner. In typical Indian cuisine, salads are considered as an accompaniment and not as a meal in a whole.

Kadhai Paneer

When I realized this, it also struck me that my blog is also majorly dominated by non-vegetarian recipes as me and my entire family is way too fond of all non-veg delicacies. But it’s of course not fair. Indian cuisine is full of amazing arrays of vegetarian delights and I have made it a point to make and share those recipes here. This will not only diversify my collection, but also I won’t feel shy anymore to recommend my blog to a vegetarian friend of mine!

To start with, I decided to do a series of recipes with cottage cheese (or paneer as we like to call it) since it is one of the main ingredients of our vegetarian palate. I am starting with Kadhai Panner today which is a rich aromatic dish flavored with many Indian spices and pair best with butter naan or vegetable pulao.

Kadhai Paneer

Ingredients –
  • Cloves – 2
  • Fennel seeds – 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
  • Black pepper corns – 4 to 5
  • Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp
  • Green cardamoms – 4 to 5
  • Paneer (Cottage Cheese) – 250 gms
  • Onions – 2, large, sliced
  • Tomato – 1, large, chopped
  • Oil – 2 tbsp
  • Capsicum – 1, diced
  • Baby onions – a handful, cubed
  • Butter – 1 tbsp
  • Green chilies – 2, cut lengthwise (optional)
  • Dry mango Powder – ½ tsp
  • Ginger paste – 1 tsp
  • Garlic paste – 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste

Kadhai Paneer

Method –
  • Cut the paneer into 1 inch cubes. I generally simmer them in boiling water for a minute or two as this makes the paneer quite soft. You may or may not do this step. Set them aside.
  • Heat a frying pan without any oil and dry roast the whole spices - coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, cloves, cardamoms and pepper corns for about a minute.
  • Open the cardamom pods and let only the seeds remain in the mixture. Let the mixture cool and then grind them to a fine powder.
  • Heat some oil in a skillet and add the onions to it. Once the onions turn brown, add the tomatoes and cook till they turn soft.
  • Add salt to taste and mix everything well. Add the ground spice mix and stir to mix well.
  • Transfer the onion-spice mixture to a deep bowl and using a hand blender blend it to a smooth paste or alternatively you can put the content in a blender and puree it. Add little water if needed.
  • Add raw mango powder and give it another whizz.
  • In the same skillet, put butter and add ginger and garlic paste to it. Mix ginger and garlic well before the butter melts. If you are using green chilies, add them now and sauté it with the paste.
  • Add the shelled baby onions and cook them for about 2 mins. Tip in the diced capsicum and add the masala paste once the onions have turned translucent.
  • Cook everything for a min and add water to it. Stir and let it boil.
  • Add the paneer cubes, toss them up and mix well with everything. Add salt and coriander leaves to it and mix well.
  • The kadhai paneer is ready to be served hot with roti/parantha.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Spicy Baked Chicken Wings

Baked Chicken Wings

The soccer fever is at its peak and everyone is going ga-ga over their favorite team. Our home is no different and being way far from the host country ‘Brazil’, there are many sleepless nights since the World Cup has started. Though I skip some matches as I can’t survive through the day if I don’t get my 7 hours good night sleep, my better half is simply glued to the television no matter what time of the day (read ‘night’) it is and still manages to continue his normal day!

Baked Chicken Wings

Owing to the soccer season, I decided to make these crispy chicken wings which are perfect substitute of that KFC chicken bucket which you love to sit with in your couch while screaming for your team. To make it even better, these are oven baked and not fried at all, so you can simply have your bite without a bit of worry and just concentrate on the match!  

Here is the recipe which takes very few regular ingredients and just a minute of preparation and then simply dash it to the oven. Once the chicken is cooked, mixing up with the sauce is another minute’s job and you are all set to have fun!

Baked Chicken Wings

Recipe adapted from The Endless Meal and modified as suited to our taste buds.

Ingredients – (serves 4)
  • Chicken wings – 15 to 20
  • Oil – 1 tbsp
  • Salt & black pepper to taste
  • Olive oil or any flavorless vegetable oil or butter – 1 tbsp
  • Schezwan sauce – 1 cup
  • Cilantro or parsley – for garnish

Bakes Chicken wings

Method –
  • Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  • Place the chicken wings in a large bowl and toss with the oil, salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  • Place the chicken wings on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the wings are quite crispy.
  • In the meantime, prepare the sauce. Melt the oil/butter in a large frying pan [big enough to hold all the chicken wings] over medium high heat.
  • Add the Schezwan sauce and whisk to combine. [You can skip adding oil/butter because ready-made Schezwan sauce already contains a lot of oil.]
  • Add some water to dilute the sauce. Let it come to boil.
  • When the chicken has finished cooking, remove from the oven and add them to the sauce. Shake the pan to coat all chicken wings well with the sauce.
  • Serve hot sprinkled with a little cilantro or parsley.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Pickled Chicken... or Chicken Achaari

Achari Chicken

It has been a while that I was away! It’s high time to make a come-back and remind all my readers that I still exist and will do so till I have a good life with a good cup of coffee! J

I can’t say I was too busy to even visit my blog and post an article; it’s just that the long absence had made me quite numb as well as lazy to complete a write-up and share it. Plus there is something more.

The actual reason was that I was away from home for some time and was enjoying my very first trip abroad! And that too to a beautiful country – Greece! Though it was an official trip, I adored every moment of it. The beauty of Greece will mesmerize even the most reluctant tourist, so you can imagine how a crazy traveler like me was soaked up in its splendor. And being a foodie I was totally knocked out by their cuisine! I have promised to myself that I will try my hand on each of their delicacies I loved – starting from Souvlaki, lamb Kleftiko, Greek pies, Quiche and so on –the list will be endless but I will surely make it!

I have been back home for couple of weeks now but still in that phase of virtual travel reminiscing every bit of my trip. Haven’t started my Greek culinary journey yet but I have been cooking a lot (deprived of cooking for a whole month!) mainly my own home food and thought of sharing one of that today.

This is a tangy chicken dish which can be an ideal appetizer and can also be a good substitute of regular kebabs. I particularly love the sour and spicy combination of this typical Indian Achari (which literally means ‘pickled’) Chicken. Hope you will like it too!

Ingredients –
  • Chicken – 1 Kg, cut it into pieces as you like
  • Ginger paste – 1 tbsp
  • Garlic paste – 1 & ½ tbsp
  • Red chili powder – 2 tsp or depending on your taste
  • Cumin powder – 2 tsp
  • Coriander powder – 1 & ½ tsp
  • Lemon juice – 10 to 12 tbsp (approximately 3 lemons)
  • Dry mango powder – ½ tsp
  • Green chilies – 2 to 3, cut into half lengthwise
  • Salt to taste

Whole spices for tempering –
  • Cumin seeds – 2 tsp
  • Nigella seeds (onion seeds) – ½ tsp
  • Dry red chilies – 4
  • Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp
  • Oil – 4 to 5 tbsp
  • Curry leaves – 5 to 6

Pickled Chicken

Method –
  • Wash and pat dry the chicken to get rid of any excess water.
  • Place the chicken in a big bowl and add all the ingredients except the one for tempering. Mix all the ingredients well with the chicken and keep it marinated for an hour preferably in the refrigerator.
  • After an hour, heat oil in a skillet. Add the curry leaves and all the whole spices mentioned under tempering. Let them crackle for a minute.
  • Then add the marinated chicken with all the marinated liquid. Sauté on high heat for a minute.
  • Now lower the heat to minimum and cover the skillet to cook. Stir every five minutes to avoid sticking.
  • You need not add water as the chicken will cook in its own liquid, but if it sticks too much then add water in splashes, not too much at a time.
  • Remove from heat when the chicken is totally cooked. Garnish with few curry leaves and serve hot.