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.

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/

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/