Tandoori Paneer Masala

I love having paneer in the fridge. It’s a goodun’ to just always have in. Home from work, don’t know what to make? Get on that paneer. Paneer is an Indian cheese that’s made from cows milk and is rather excellent at absorbing flavours. It has a wonderful almost meaty texture which makes it perfect for cooking it in curries (obvs), as a stuffing (paneer parathas anyone?) or even as a salad topping (toast paneer cubes in a dry pan until golden & crisp & pop on top of your next salad – you’re welcome). In addition, it’s packed full of protein and surprisingly quick to make. But enough of the paneer ad campaign, let’s get onto the good stuff. 

Today’s recipe is one that transforms this humble cheese into a luxurious, stand out dish. Mopped up with crispy, butter laden naans (I mean if you’re going to do it, do it right), it will not disappoint. This is also a fabulous one to whip out at a dinner party or pot luck. Enjoy. 

For Paneer Marination:
225g paneer, cut into cubes
1 red or green bell pepper, cut into 1cm squares
1 onion, cut into 1 cm squares
4 garlic cloves, grated or minced
2” ginger, grated
½ tsp salt or according to taste
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp lemon/lime juice
4 tbsp Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp gram flour/chickpea flour (optional)
2 tsp sunflower/vegetable oil
For Masala:
4 tbsp oil
2” cinnamon stick
2 black cardamoms (optional), crushed open in a pestle & mortar
3 green cardamoms, crushed open in a pestle & mortar
5 cloves
4 tbsp tomato passata
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
2 tbsp double concentrate tomato purée
2-3 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp salt, or according to taste
3/4 tsp cumin powder
3 tsp kasuri methi/dried fenugreek leaves (optional)
4 tbsp cream cheese
Handful fresh coriander, finely chopped

How to:
1) Line a baking tray and pre-heat grill at highest temperature setting. Place all “paneer marination” ingredients together in a bowl and mix well.
2) Tip the marinated paneer into the baking tray and spread all over. Cook in grill for 5 minutes until slightly charred. Remove from heat and turn off grill.
3) Heat oil in a pan. Once hot, add the cinnamon, cardamoms and cloves and cook for 10 seconds.
4) Now add the tomato passata, purée, ketchup and green chillies and cook for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the remaining spices and cook for 1 minute. Now add the cream cheese a little at a time, mixing continuously until it is completely blended in.
5) Now add the grilled paneer as well as the fresh coriander.
6) Add one cup of water and bring to boil. Place lid on the pan and simmer for 5-6 minutes. Check the salt and chilli adjust to your taste. Enjoy with naan or chapatis.

Keema Mattar

On a day to day basis, I try not to overeat. You know, be conscious of what I’m eating and all that jazz. For the most part, I do alright. But then I have those moments where I lapse. Big time lapse (segue to today’s recipe imminent). One of those times is when keema matter is on the cards for dinner. This is a perfect recipe to cook if you need a hug in a meal. You can mop it up with hot chapatis (my preference), plain basmati rice (the hub’s choice) or even stuff it in a fluffy white bap if you like. If you are trying to keep it light, can even stuff inside iceberg leaves and have lettuce wraps. If you want to elevate it to the next level though (we are talking “ohmygaaaahhh” level ) you need to do two things. One – cook the dish in mustard oil and two – use minced mutton instead of lamb. But like I said, if you can’t source those two things, worry not. It’s still going to taste shamazing. Enjoy! And then come back and tell me how it was 🙂 

Keema Mattar
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 5-6 tbsp mustard oil (you can also use vegetable or sunflower oil)
  2. 2 bay leaves
  3. 3 cloves
  4. 2 green cardamom pods crushed open
  5. 1 black cardamom pod crushed open (optional)
  6. 1 1/2 large onions, cut into rough chunks
  7. 3/4 tsp salt
  8. 2 fresh green chillies
  9. 2" ginger
  10. 3 garlic cloves
  11. 1 tsp salt or according to taste
  12. 1 tsp garam masala
  13. 1/2 tsp paprika
  14. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  15. 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  16. 1/4 tsp chilli powdder
  17. 5 tbsp tomato passata (you can also blitz fresh or tinned plum tomatoes into a paste)
  18. 800g minced mutton/lamb*
  19. 1 small potato, diced into 1cm cubes
  20. 100g peas
  21. Handful fresh coriander with stems, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. Coarsely grind onions in a processor and place in a bowl. Now coarsely grind the chilli, ginger and garlic*
  2. Heat oil in a non stick pan. Once hot add the bay leaves, cloves and cardamoms.
  3. When they begin to sizzle in the oil, add the coarsely ground onions. Add 3/4 tsp salt and cook for 3-4 minutes on a medium to high heat.
  4. When they turn translucent and soft, add the ground green chilli, ginger and garlic mixture. Cook for a further 9-10 minutes until everything turns a deep golden brown shade. If it sticks to the pan at any point, add a splash of oil or alternatively water.
  5. Now reduce the heat and add the remaining 1 tsp salt and all the dry spices and mix well. Cook for 20 seconds. Now stir in the tomato passata and cook for 2 minutes. When the oil begins to separate from the masala sauce, add the mince and potatoes and mix together.
  6. Add 1/2 cup of water and bring to boil. Now reduce heat to low/medium setting and place lid on the pan. Allow the mince to cook for 15 minutes, stirring every 2-3 minutes, then add the peas. Continue to cook for a further 5 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle on fresh coriander and mix.
  8. Taste for salt/chilli and adjust accordingly. If you would like the dish to be a little "drier", continue to cook until it has reduced down. Alternatively, if you prefer it "wetter" you can always add little more water than suggested.
Notes
  1. * If you don't have a processor, just finely chop onions and chilli and grate ginger & garlic.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

Aloo Gobi

Cauliflower is so in right now. From pizza bases and buffalo wings to fried rice and nuggets, the humble cauliflower has been reinvented and is currently the trendiest vegetable around (move over kale). I’d like to point out I’ve been a fan from a young age (no bandwagon jumping here).

Cauliflower or gobi has been a regular part of my diet and in Indian cookery it’s used to make everything from curries and pakoras to pickles and paratha stuffings. Gobi Aloo is a quintessential Punjabi dish and ticks all of the boxes. With a super simple preparation and a limited number of spices, it’s unbelievably satisfying and really nutritious (without tasting like it!). Served up with some hot chapatis it’s a winner every time. Give it a go-bi! Sorry couldn’t resist…I’ll stop typing now. 

Gobi Aloo
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 5 tbsp oil
  2. 1/4 tsp asafoetida/hing (optional)
  3. 2 tsp cumin seeds
  4. 2" ginger, grated
  5. 4 tbsp tomato passata
  6. 1 green chilli finely chopped
  7. 3 medium potatoes cut into bitesize chunks slightly smaller than cauliflower florets (I like to use red/desiree)
  8. 1 medium cauliflower cut into bitesize florets
  9. 1/4 cup peas
  10. 1 tsp salt or according to taste
  11. 1/4 tsp paprika
  12. 1/2 tsp turmeric
  13. 1 tsp garam masala
  14. 1/2 tsp amchur/mango powder
  15. Handful fresh coriander, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a pan. Once hot add the asafoetida and cumin seeds. When they begin to splatter, add the ginger and cook for 3-4 minutes until light golden.
  2. Now add the pasata and chilli and cook for a further minute.
  3. Add the potatoes, mix and place a lid on the pan. Cook on a low/medium heat setting for approx 5 minutes.
  4. Now, add the cauliflower florets along with peas, salt, paprika and turmeric. Mix together and once again place lid on the pan.
  5. Cook on a low heat setting for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. (Keep an eye on the pan -if the vegetables are catching, you can add a little more oil or a splash of water).
  7. The vegetables should be completely tender once cooked. Now add the garam masala, amchur and fresh coriander and place a lid on the pan again. Allow the flavour of the spices and fresh coriander to infuse for 10 minutes and then mix before serving.
  8. Check for salt and adjust accordingly. Finish with fresh coriander.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/