Tandoori Paneer Tikka

The inspiration for this week’s LIVE Spice Club “isolation cookery lesson” came from my next door neighbour. We’ve had some pretty glorious weather in the UK this week so I decided it would be a good idea to finally cut the grass. It was long overdue (I am not a big fan of gardening). When I got out in my garden I was greeted by my favourite smell of Summer….the BBQ next door.

I decided I needed to eat something grilled and whilst cutting the grass I mentally raided the fridge to figure out what I could have. My search engine of a brain decided on Paneer Tikka Kebabs. I do impress myself with my own suggestions at times.

Soft & juicy paneer, spicy peppers and onions with a crispy charred skin. Paneer Tikka is delicious. The best thing about this recipe is once you have the marinade down you can sub out the paneer to make anything you like. Prawns, chicken and veggies like mushrooms & courgettes all work really well.

I’m assuming you don’t have a tandoor at home (if you do – I’m totes jealous). If you don’t…you can easily emulate the taste of the Tandoor by cooking them on the BBQ, in a hot oven or even, as I did, on my griddle pan on the hob. If you missed the live cookery class but want to catch up and watch, you can do so by clicking here. Also, if you have any dish suggestions for next week’s live class, comment below or drop me a message on Instagram or Facebook. I would love to hear from you!

Tandoori Paneer Tikka

Servings 4 skewers

Ingredients
  

Paneer marination:

  • 225 g paneer cut into 3 cms chunky pieces (you should be able to get about 16 pieces this size out of 1 x 225g pack. I cut 8 pieces super thick pieces which I cut into 16 thinner pieces)
  • 2 bell peppers green or red, cut into 3ms chunky pieces; you need 16 pieces
  • 1 large onion white or red, cut into 3 cms chunky pieces; you need 16 pieces
  • 4 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • 5 cloves of garlic grated
  • 4 cms ginger grated
  • 1 or 2 green chillies finely chopped, or use chilli powder
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp double concentrate tomato puree optional
  • 2 tsp gram flour or you can use plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt or according to taste
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 heaped tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder optional
  • 1 x black cardamom ground into a powder, optional
  • 3 good pinches sun dried fenugreek leaves/kasuri methi, ground into a powder optional
  • 2 tbsp oil any variety

Pickled Lime Onion Salad to accompany! For that you will need:

  • 1 red onion very thinly sliced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3-4 stems fresh coriander, chopped (optional)
  • Handful of pomegranate seeds, optional

You will also need:

  • 1 x griddle pan or a non stick chapati/crepe pan. You can also cook these in your grill or on your bbq if you like!
  • Bamboo or Metal Skewers
  • Oil and butter/ghee for cooking

Instructions
 

How to:

  • To make the pickled red onion salad, add all of the salad ingredients to a small bowl and leave aside to pickle.
  • To prepare the Paneer Tikka, place all of the "paneer marination" ingredients in a large bowl. Using your hand, carefully mix everything together. Keep mixing until every single piece of paneer, pepper and onion is well coated in the marination. The longer you can leave this marination on, the better (overnight is ideal!).
  • If you are using a griddle pan or chapati pan – place it on the hob. Brush 3-4 tbsp oil brushed along its surface and allow to pre-heat on a low temperature. If you are cooking in the oven, pre heat at 220c and line a baking tray with foil, greased with a little oil.
  • Skewer on the paneer, pepper and onion pieces. You can use any combination you like – I aimed for 4 pieces of each ingredient per skewer!
  • Once each of your skewers are ready, increase the heat of your pan to medium/high. Once hot, place the skewers on the pan along with 1-2 tsp of ghee/butter. Cook for a couple of minutes on each side and then turn. I like to use brush them with a little oil or ghee when they are half way cooked but this is optional. The paneer tikka skewers should be completely cooked and have a nice char all over.
  • If you are cooking them in the oven, cook the skewers at 220c for approx 10-12 minutes, flipping them over half way through – I like to use brush them with a little oil or ghee at this point but this is optional! If you would like them to get nice and crispy and charred, switch to the grill setting at the end and grill a further 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove from the pan and serve with the pickled lime onion salad or wrap in your favourite Indian flatbread with some yoghurt drizzled over. Enjoy!

Notes

If you are cooking the skewers in an oven and are using wooden skewers, pre soak them in water ahead of time.

Punjabi Murgh Masala

I can’t count the number of times I have cooked this dish; yet every time I sit down to eat it, I still get a tiny bit excited. It’s because it never disappoints. It is for that reason that I decided to teach my Punjabi Murgh Masala at my third LIVE COOKERY CLASS this afternoon. I have also decided that it deserves to be flagged under my “Spice Club Staples” recipe collection because once you have nailed how to make the masala part of this recipe, you can actually use it as a base for countless recipes, so tis a great go-to in our current climate.

The masala is also fantastic to cook in bulk, store in a jar, top with a little bit of oil & keep in the fridge. When you come home and fancy a delicious chicken/paneer/mixed veg/fish prawn masala…you know it will be ready in just a matter of minutes.

Sure you can reach for an expensive jar of a pre-made “curry” paste. But why would you when you know the fresh masala you have made from scratch in your own kitchen is (so much) tastier, has no additives/colourings, is more nutritious and not to mention cheaper. Okay my sales pitch is officially over. Now you have to try it for yourselves and let me know your thoughts!

If you missed the live cookery class but want to catch up and watch, you can do so by clicking here. Also, if you have any dish suggestions for next week’s class, comment below or drop me a message on Instagram or Facebook. I would love to hear from you!

Punjabi Murgh Masala (Chicken Curry)

Ingredients
  

For the chicken marinade:

  • 500 g skinned boneless chicken thighs cut into small pieces
  • 2 tbsp yoghurt Plain/Greek works (a full fat type is preferred)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp garam masala

For the masala:

  • 5-7 tbsp oil or ghee, or a combination of both
  • 3 bay leaves optional
  • 3 cloves optional
  • 3 green cardamom pods optional
  • 1 black cardamom optional
  • 2 medium onions (approx 175g) very finely diced
  • 1 tsp salt or according to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves grated
  • 2 " ginger grated
  • 5 tbsp tomato passata/blitzed plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp double concentrate tomato puree, optional
  • 1-2 chillies finely chopped, (or you can use 1/4 -1/2 tsp chilli powder)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 heaped tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp sun dried fenugreek leaves/kasuri methi, ground into a powder, optional
  • Handful fresh coriander with stems finely chopped

You will also need:

  • 1 x Foil lined oven tray
  • Jug of water (room temp is fine)
  • Pestle & Mortar if you have one. Don't worry if not!

Instructions
 

  • Pre-heat your grill at the maximum temperature setting. Place all "marinade" ingredients into a bowl and mix together. Place the marinated chicken on a foil lined oven tray and spread out. Grill for approximately 10 minutes or until fully cooked (the chicken should be white all the way through and have a slight golden char all over). Remove from grill and keep aside.
  • Heat the oil/ghee in a pan. Using a pestle & mortar, coarsely crush the cloves and cardamoms until coarsely ground. Then add to the oil along with the bay leaves. Immediately after, add the chopped onions along with 1 tsp salt. Cook for 4-5 minutes on medium heat until soft and translucent.
  • Now add the grated garlic and ginger and mix. Continue to cook for a further 3-4 minutes until completely golden brown.
  • At this point, add the tomato passata as well as the puree and green chilli to the pan and stir for a a minute.
  • Now, reduce the heat. Then add the garam masala, coriander powder and paprika and mix well. Cook for a minute. When you see the oil begin to separate from the masala paste at the edges, add the grilled chicken. Add approximately ¼ cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly, place a lid on the pan and allow to simmer for 6-8 minutes.
  • Finish with the ground, dried fenugreek leaves and fresh coriander. Allow to simmer for a further 2-3 minutes.
  • If you like your curry to be even more saucier, you can add a little more water (you may need to adjust the seasoning slightly if you do this)
  • Taste for salt and chilli and adjust accordingly.

Smoked Aubergine Mash (Baingan Bharta)

 

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I always think it’s funny how there are foods we used to hate as kids but now love as adults. Not that I consider myself an adult. I see myself more as a tall kid. Am I aware that 5ft 2 is not technically tall? Sure I am, but lets not ponder on that.

I was a good eater as a child (my childhood photos reveal that) and I’d like to think I wasn’t particularly fussy. Granted I had some weird foodie combinations that I loved but who didn’t? Crisp and coleslaw sandwiches were a must whilst watching cartoons on a Saturday morning. Any crisp would do, though crisps made from maize or corn were preferable. Mango pickle mixed with yoghurt was a regular “snack”, oh and I could eat mountains of black olives and pickled onions at any given time. Perhaps I was an odd child…please don’t judge me. 

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But I digress. Generally, I ate very well and there were just a few things I detested which oddly, I now love! Any sort of seafood was a no go, however Chingri Malai Kari is now one of my absolute favourite dishes. I found bitter melon revolting growing up but now regularly crave it. I couldn’t stand the smell of anything cooked in ghee but now it’s a staple in my everyday cooking. It’s odd isn’t it?

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Baigan Bharta also featured on the loathe list but now I can’t fathom how I lived so many years without it! Spicy, smokey (almost BBQ esque) and slightly sweet, baigan bharta is an utterly satisfying dish that’s perfect with hot buttery chapatis. The mashed consistency of the aubergine is akin to baba ganoush so it also works great as a dip, in wraps and smothered on crackers too (I’m thinking canapés at dinner partys people). I hope you like this recipe. It’s surprisingly easy to make and packed full of flavour. Keep me posted on how it turns out for you! 

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Smoked Aubergine Mash (Baigan Bhartha)
Serves 3
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Ingredients
  1. 1 aubergine
  2. 2 tbsp oil
  3. 1 small onion, finely diced
  4. 1 green chilli, finely diced
  5. 2 tomatoes, diced
  6. 1 level tsp tomato puree (double concentrate)
  7. 1 1/2 tsp salt or according to taste
  8. 1/2 tsp chilli powder or according to taste
  9. 2 tbsp peas, boiled (optional)
  10. Fresh coriander
Instructions
  1. Grease the aubergine with oil and roast it over an open flame till it is fully cooked. It should take about 5-7 minutes. When done, the skin should be charred all over and and the aubergine flesh will become soft.
  2. If you do not have a gas cooker, you can also cook the aubergine in the grill at the highest temperature until soft. Note, this will however not achieve the smokiness in flavour.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Then peel and discard the skin. Mash the flesh with a fork and keep aside.
  4. Heat oil in a non stick pan. Then add the onions and chilli and cook for 3-5 minutes until light golden brown in colour.
  5. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, salt and chilli powder and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
  6. Now add the mashed aubergine and peas and mix well. Reduce the heat and cook for 5-7 minutes. Add the fresh coriander. Check salt and chilli and adjust accordingly. Remove from heat.
Notes
  1. If you are roasting over a flame, use tongs to hold the aubergine and rotate every few minutes. It may also help to cover the cooker around the ring with foil so it is easy to clean once the aubergine is roasted.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/