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.

INDIAN SCOTCH EGGS

When it comes to Diwali, I love to greet my guests with a table laden with finger food and snacks. The aim of the evening is to feed them until they’re so full they have to roll home, so I have to start in the night the right way!
As part of my Diwali feast this year, I will be making a fusion dish that brings a spicy twist to a quintessential British snack – the Scotch Egg. Replacing the traditional meat covering with spicy potatoes, the Indian scotch egg is a mouth watering variation on the classic. The first time I tried these was in Kolkata and it blew my mind. The flavour, the heat, the concept…I was transported to a place of pure bliss!

Though the list of ingredients runs slightly on the longer side, I thankfully have an Asda* near me where I can do all my shopping in one go. With all the ingredients in place, let’s get cooking.  Remember, you can make this simple yet sumptuous starter for Diwali in a jiffy and without spending a fortune. Just pop into your nearest Asda and make the most of their Diwali offers! 

*Although I have been sponsored to write this post, I am an actual Asda customer and can genuinely vouch for the variety of Indian products at their stores. 

Dimer Devil | Indian Scotch Eggs
Yields 5
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Ingredients
  1. 5 small/medium eggs
Potato coating
  1. 2 large potatoes (approx 450g potatoes), boiled, peeled & mashed with a fork
  2. Salt to taste
  3. ½ tsp chili powder
  4. ½ tsp garam masala
  5. ½ tsp coriander powder
  6. 1 birds eye green chilli, finely chopped
  7. Small handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  8. 4 tbsp oil
  9. 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  10. 1 tsp garlic paste
  11. 1 tsp ginger paste
Coating
  1. 1 egg for egg wash, beaten with 2 tbsp of water
  2. 2 slices of bread made intro crumbs/100g panko breadcrumbs seasoned with salt
You will also need
  1. Sunflower oil for deep frying
How to
  1. 1. Place eggs in pan full of water and bring to boil. Set timer for 7 minutes. Remove eggs from heat and immediately place in a bowl of cold water. Once cooled, carefully peel them.
  2. 2. Place the potatoes, dry spices, chilli and coriander in a bowl and mix well.
  3. 3. Heat oil in a pan. Add the onions, ginger and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes until light golden. Now add the mashed potato and mix to incorporate everything.. Continue to cook for a further 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Taste for salt & adjust if you need to.
  4. 4. Once cool, divide mixture into 5 balls. Next, wrap each potato ball evenly around each egg.
  5. 5. Then place the eggs and breadcrumbs into 2 separate plates.
  6. 6. Dip a potato wrapped egg into the beaten egg, followed by the breadcrumbs.
  7. 7. Carefully place into a pan filled halfway with of oil at 160ºC (medium heat). Repeat with the next egg. Cook a couple at a time for 4-5 minutes or until crisp and golden all over. Remove and drain on a wire tray/kitchen paper.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

Spicy Mushroom Potato Sabji

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Something life changing happened last week. We got a mattress topper. I thought our bed was nice as it was but oh Lordy…comfort levels have now been taken to the upper echelons of the slumber world. And as much as I am loving the ridiculous amount of snuggly cosiness this new topper has brought into my life, it seems to have simultaneously introduced a problem. You know when you look at the clock and realise you were supposed to be somewhere 10 minutes ago…yeah that. I can no longer get out of bed in the mornings! 

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I went through a similar experience over the weekend where I woke up late and I had to leave the house asap. Whilst getting ready I realised I was starving and wouldn’t get home till late. I started pondering over what I could make. Okay Monica, think quick food. Cereal? Out of milk. Eggs? Nada. Sandwich? No bread..or filling for that matter. I hurried downstairs and opened the door to a relatively bare looking fridge (it had been one of those weeks). I saw pomegranate, and baby button mushrooms. I picked the latter. I then opened the pantry and saw onions & potatoes. Boom. I had an idea. Ten minutes later I had a spicy mushroom & potato sabji. I wrapped it in a chapati and gobbled it up in seconds. It was delicious! I’d like to think it didn’t have anything to do with my hunger as I was craving it when I got home and made it all over again for dinner.

Quick, simple, easy and spicy! Have a go. 

Oh before I sign off, just a quick thank you to you guys as Spice Diary was recently ranked in the top 50 food blogs in India. Thanks for your support lovely people! <3

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Spicy Mushroom & Potato Sabji
Serves 2
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Ingredients
  1. 75g button mushrooms, washed & cut in half
  2. 3 small potatoes, washed
  3. 1 small red onion, sliced
  4. 2 tbsp olive oil
  5. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  6. 1 birds eye green chilli, whole
  7. 1 tsp salt (or according to taste)
  8. 1 tsp sambar masala
  9. handful fresh coriander
Instructions
  1. Place potatoes in a plastic bag and tie a knot. Pierce a hole and place in microwave. Cook on highest power setting for 7 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly. Then cut into 2" chunks.
  2. Whilst potatoes are cooking, heat oil in a pan. When hot, add the cumin. Th cumin should splatter immediately. Now add the onions, chilli and mushrooms.
  3. Sauté for 30 seconds, then add the salt and sambar masala. Mix well and cook for a further 3 minutes.
  4. Now add the cooked potatoes, and mix. Cook for another minute and add the coriander. Mix.
  5. Check for salt and adjust accordingly. Remove from heat & enjoy!
Notes
  1. 1) Sambar masala is a spicy, tangy spice blend available at all Indian grocery shops. I have also seen it in some supermarkets in the worldwide section so worth checking!
  2. 2) When cooking potatoes, some microwaves have different power intensities, so just check potatoes are cooked by cutting through them with a knife.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/