South Indian Style Paneer Mattar

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Yesterday was one of those days. Yes one of *those* days. I woke up early, feeling amazing with a big smile on my face, leapt out of bed with a huge bolt of energy and drew back the curtains to see…oh what have we here? Grey skies, rain, a sodden garden and general wetness and dullness…everywhere. I immediately let out a long grunt type noise, that phonetically spelt out, would be something along the lines of UGGHH. My first thought was to jump straight back into bed and stay there. I mean, Wednesday is nearly Friday which is practically the weekend…right?! I spent a few more minutes trying to rationalise the idea but then opened up my reminders app on auto-pilot, and saw my epic “To Do” list staring at me. Grave error – my dreams of returning to a quilty haven shattered in a single click of the Home button. 

Some may call me over dramatic (my other half regularly does) but I’m a huge believer that weather can truly affect your mood. I knew that I needed something to “pick me up”. After a quick visit to the gym, (they say you only start burning fat after 20 minutes of cardio – I thought 21 minutes on the step machine was as a solid time) I decided I would make lunch before I started my day. Cooking generally puts me in a good mood and I figured it would give me something to look forward to!

This brings me to today’s recipe. Have you ever made paneer before? I make it ALL the time. It’s so quick to cook, a good source of protein and super versatile. Paneer Mattar is a dish I cook regularly at home – it’s lovely and comforting. Imagine a creamy and chunky casserole but with a depth of warm spiciness and just a cheeky little kick.  This time round, I decided to “pimp” my usual recipe by giving it a South Indian twist with mustard seeds & curry leaves. Let’s just say my pre-lunch frown was quickly turned upside-down!

If you have never used curry leaves in your cooking before, you must try. They’re beautifully warm and fragrant and bring any dish to life.

Give it a go!

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South Indian Style Paneer Mattar
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 220g paneer, chopped
  2. 5-6 tbsp olive oil
  3. 1 tsp cumin
  4. 1 tsp mustard seeds
  5. handful of curry leaves, washed, dried & roughly chopped
  6. 2" ginger, grated
  7. 2 cloves garlic, peeled & grated
  8. 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  9. 1 1/2 tsp salt or according to taste
  10. 1/2 tsp paprika
  11. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  12. 1 tsp garam masala
  13. 2 tbsp greek yoghurt
  14. 2 plum tomatoes & 2 tbsp tomato juice
  15. 1 cup peas
Instructions
  1. Heat 1-2tbsp oil in a non-stick pan. Once hot, add the cumin seeds. When they begin to splatter, add the paneer and a pinch of salt. Cook for 2-4 minutes or until golden on one side. Turn over the paneer pieces and cook until golden on the other side. Remove paneer from pan.
  2. Add remaining oil to a non stick pan. Once hot, add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. You will see them begin to splatter immediately. At this point, add the ginger, garlic and chilli. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until golden.
  3. Now add the salt, paprika, turmeric powder & garam masala. Add the yoghurt and stir quickly. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the yoghurt blends well with the masala.
  4. Add the tomatoes and juice and mash well into the masala. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Now add the peas and 2 cups of water. Bring to boil. Now add the paneer and cook for further 2 minutes. Check for salt and adjust accordingly. Remove from heat.
  5. Serve with hot chapattis or naan bread!
Notes
  1. You can leave the skin on ginger, before grating - just make sure it's washed and clean. This way you have zero wastage from peeling!
  2. You can sauté the paneer in cumin before hand and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge until you want to use it. This paneer can also be used in salads as a tasty topping!
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

 

Spicy Kalonji Sweet Potato Salad

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Hello I’m back! Did you miss me? You’re more than welcome to leave a comment if you did (if you didn’t…it was a rhetorical question). Yes there has been a slight hiatus but fear not, I have returned and have so much to share with you all. What have I been doing? Well, even the word epic is not effective enough of an adjective to describe how the last 18 months have been for me….

It began when I got engaged-yay! This naturally led to a ridiculous amount of “wedding preparation” (spending hours on Pinterest followed by hours of crying after receiving extortionate wedding supplier quotes). I was told by our newly-wed friends that wedding planning is an exciting and fun time for the couple and how we should enjoy the process. My other half and I rarely have serious quarrels but I remember some major disagreements along the way…there was even a full blown argument about whether the name place cards should be heart shaped and pink or dove shaped and white. We went with something completely different in the end! A lesson for any newly weds to be out there – don’t stress over the little things because when the day comes, nothing like that even matters.The big day finally came. Yes we had the Big Fat Indian Wedding and yes it was amazing!

To top it all off, immediately after the wedding, I moved out of my family home and shifted to a completely different city. That’s right I’m living with a boy now-yack! And so that brings me back to where I am today…phew.

I’m excited to share today’s recipe. Although I do most of the cooking at home, hubby does two things in the kitchen very well. Salads and cakes. Granted, they are two extremes on the health spectrum but I eat both, so it works for me! Salads have always been more of a side dish for me but thanks to him I have discovered how tasty and satisfying they can be as a main dish. My Spicy Kalonji Sweet Potato Salad is a great dish and perfect to make as a quick and healthy lunch. Satisfying, fresh, flavoursome & full of complimenting textures  – your salads need not be boring from now on!

Spicy Kalonji Sweet Potato Salad
Serves 2
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Ingredients
  1. 2 medium sweet potatoes
  2. 2 tbsp olive oil
  3. 1 tsp kalonji seeds
  4. 1/4 tsp salt or according to taste
  5. 1/4 tsp paprika
  6. 1/4 tsp amchur/mango powder (if you don't have this use a squeeze of lemon)
  7. 2 tbsp fresh bread crumbs (optional)
  8. 1/2 bag mixed salad leaves, washed
  9. small handful of rocket leaves
  10. 4 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped roughly
  11. 3" cucumber, diced
  12. 1 small sweet chilli pepper, diced
  13. 7-8 olives of your choice
  14. 2 tbsp crumbled feta
  15. 1 cooked beetroot, diced
  16. 1 tsp olive oil for dressing
Instructions
  1. Place the potatoes inside a plastic carrier bag and tie a knot. Pierce a hole with your finger and cook in a microwave for approximately 7 minutes. (The exact time may vary depending on your microwave and size of potatoes so cook until you can easily place a knife through them).
  2. Allow to cool then peel the skin off (you can easily peel with your fingers) and cut into bitesize chunks.
  3. Heat oil in a pan. When hot, add the kalonji seeds. You will begin to see them sizzle slightly. At this point, add the potatoes.
  4. Sprinkle on the salt, paprika, amchur and mix well. Sauté for a couple of minutes and add the bread crumbs and sauté for a further 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and place potatoes on a plate and allow to cool.
  5. In a bowl, place salad leaves, sun dried tomatoes, cucumber, chilli pepper, olives and beetroot. Drizzle over the olive oil and toss. Place the tossed salad on a plate/wide bowl and add the cooled sweet potatoes on top. Sprinkle on the crumbled feta and serve!
Notes
  1. Optional: Add a little drizzle of balsamic glaze at the very end - adds a lovely sweetness & sharpness to the salad!
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

Punjabi Chicken & Spinach Curry

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As the weather begins to cool, try out this hearty and spicy Punjabi chicken and spinach curry recipe. Disclaimer: Aromas from cooking this dish may result in random hungry neighbours knocking at your door (answer at your own risk).

Punjabi Chicken & Spinach Curry
Serves 2
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For the marinade
  1. 275g chicken breast, cut into 2” chunks
  2. 1 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  3. 1” ginger, grated
  4. 1/2 clove ginger, grated
  5. ½ tsp salt
For the masala
  1. 1 small white onion, peeled
  2. 2” ginger
  3. 1 clove garlic
  4. 3 tbsp olive oil
  5. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  6. 3” cinnamon stick
  7. 2 cloves
  8. 3 peppercorns
  9. 1 bay leaf
  10. 1 black cardamom
  11. 1 tsp salt
  12. 1 tsp garam masala
  13. ½ tsp paprika
  14. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  15. 2 tbsp chopped tomatoes & juice
  16. 2 tsp tomato puree
  17. ¼ cup fresh spinach leaves
  18. 1 green chilli
Instructions
  1. Turn your grill on or pre-heat your oven on the highest temperature
  2. Place all "marinade" ingredients into a bowl and mix together
  3. Place the marinated chicken on a foil lined oven tray. Grill or roast for 5-6 minutes until cooked (the chicken should be white all the way through once fully cooked)
  4. Remove from heat and cover with foil
  5. To make the masala, coarsely grind onions, ginger and garlic in a food processer
  6. Heat oil in a non stick pan. Once hot add the cumin alongside the cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, bay leaf and black cardamom
  7. When they begin to sizzle in the oil, add the ground onion, ginger and garlic mixture. Add salt and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring continuously
  8. When they turn slightly golden, add the garam masala, paprika and turmeric powder and mix well. Now add the chopped tomatoes and tomato puree and mash into the masala.
  9. At this point, add the grilled chicken to the masala and mix together
  10. Using a food processor, grind together the spinach and green chilli. Now add this paste to the chicken masala.
  11. Add 1/4 cup of water and cook on high heat for 4-5 minutes
  12. Serve hot with delicious chapatis. Enjoy!
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/