Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

formerly Ladles and High Heels


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Snacky Paneer from the Fake Tandoor

Don’t you love Paneer? Don’t you just love that chewy goodness called Paneer, a close cousin of ricotta and just the perfect replacement to meat in most dishes that roll out of a Tandoor kitchen? Um, I don’t like it all that much. True story. But when I was young(er), I used to have dreams about devouring huge amounts of Paneer Butter Masala and Paneer Tikka and miraculously escaping the indigestion that was sure to follow. That phase passed and fortunately-erm, for Kishore, really- I make Paneer exclusively for him these days.

Paneer Tikka is one of those appetizer dishes that holds a permanent place on any Indian restaurant menu. It is a breeze to make (without the Tandoor, of course), an ultimate favorite with the hub and my round two recipe for a frozen piece of Paneer that was sleeping in the freezer. I cooked it in the oven and finished it on a pan because with a sleeping child in the house on a scotching Alabama summer day, the broiler was something I wanted to avoid switching on.
Paneer tikka
Paneer Tikka

Ingredients:

To be diced into huge pieces-
A slab of Paneer

Half an onion

One tomato

Half a green bell pepper

For the marinade-
One cup thick yogurt

Two Tbs gram flour (or AP)

Half tsp chili powder

Half a tsp turmeric powder

One tsp Garam Masala

One tsp Chat Masala

One Tbsp ginger-garlic paste

One tsp salt

Method:

Whisk together the ingredients for the marinade. Marinate the Paneer for two hours. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Lay the Paneer pieces on a foil lined sheet. Dunk the veggies in the marinade and lay them out. Bake for twenty minutes. When done, heat a pan, transfer the Paneer and the vegetables and toast till brown on both sides. Serve with green chutney.

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Paneer Dahiwala, or Anything You Want to Call it…

This dish is loosely based on the other Indian dish called Dahiwala Paneer or Paneer Dahiwala. I came across this recipe on Tarla Dalal’s website once and bookmarked it for future use. Fast forward a year and I discovered today that my book on Paneer had the same recipe (no surprises there since it was written by the same chef). Although I started the Subzi by following the book, I gradually branched out and threw in ingredients that I found fitting. Hence, you can call it anything you want. I won’t blame you.
paneer dahiwala2We bought a huge slab of Paneer last week in Atlanta and Kishore was going crazy trying to decide what he wanted me to make out of it. These days, it is a pretty huge task, trying to find a good recipe for this Indian cheese that would make it the star of the show. I blame this obsession on the lack of fresh Paneer available at our local Indian grocers. Most of the time, I end up making it from scratch. At times like these, I buy it from Atlanta when we go shopping once in two months. Not surprisingly, the hub prefers the commercial version and I kinda don’t blame him for that. It is less crumbly and it doesn’t disappear when you fry it. My mom rightly observed today that taste-wise, the homemade version kicks the commercial version any day!

What I am trying to say is, make it or buy it, that is your call.

Paneer Dahiwala

Ingredients:
Two cups cubed Paneer

Two cups finely-sliced onion

Ten cherry tomatoes

One tsp tomato paste

Cilantro to garnish

One and a half Tbsp ginger-garlic paste

One tsp each of-
Cumin seeds

Fennel seeds

Nigella seeds (optional but recommended)

Mustard seeds

A small pinch of fenugreek seeds

Quarter tsp asafoetida powder (optional)

Two tsp Kasuri Methi (optional)

One tsp turmeric powder

Half tsp cayenne pepper powder

Two tsp Chat Masala/Pani Puri Masala/black salt

Salt to taste (but avoid if using black salt)

One Tbsp all-purpose flour

Two cups Greek yogurt

Quarter cup milk

Quarter cup water

Four Tbsp cooking oil

Method:
Heat the oil in a pan. Add all the seeds and when they begin to crackle, add the sliced onion. Let it caramelize on low heat. When it turns golden brown, up the heat to medium and add the ginger-garlic paste and cherry tomatoes. Saute for two minutes and then add the tomato paste, water, turmeric powder, cayenne powder, Chat Masala and salt. Let it cook for five minutes. When done, mix in the Paneer. Give it three minutes to cook.

(L-R) Sauteed caramelized onions and cherry tomatoes. Paneer in the pan with the seasonings. Simmering the gravy after adding Kasuri Methi

(L-R) Sauteed caramelized onions and cherry tomatoes. Paneer in the pan with the seasonings. Simmering the gravy after adding Kasuri Methi

Now add the yogurt and milk along with the Kasuri Methi and all-purpose flour. Cover and let it simmer on low heat for five to seven minutes. Once done, switch off the heat and garnish with cilantro leaves. If the gravy is too thick, add some water. If it is watery (which I doubt it will), add another tsp of AP and let it simmer for a few more minutes without the lid.


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Wrapped in Paneer

After five months of waiting, mommy is finally here! She landed a day before Mother’s Day and although I don’t really believe in compartmentalizing my love for mothers into one single day, it felt good to have her here right on time. Anyway, after showing her around this part of the town for a few days and taking turns at the kitchen, it was my turn to cook her up something interesting for a change. It was Friday after all!

Paneer Kathi Rolls

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with making wraps for dinner. I know I haven’t shown any proof for that claim but these wrap situations always happen on Thursdays. Since K and I have been attending birthing classes on that day, I discovered that a wrap or a burrito is the most convenient snack to grab and go when you have exactly ten minutes to take a shower, get changed and get going. But it was a Friday, we were done with those classes and I wanted to make something different for mommy. I mean, how many ways are really there to make brown rice in, right?

I found these low-carb, whole grain tortillas in the store a few weeks ago and have been buying them regularly since my low-carb diet began. To cut the long, winding story short, I made Paneer Kathi Rolls for dinner. This dish is a great way to stretch a slab of precious Paneer and if you have ever been to Oxford Bookstore in Madras and dropped into their Cha Bar, the beautiful cafe dedicated to Chai and snacks, you would have probably tasted their Paneer Kathi rolls and fallen in love with it. If not, no big deal because as delicious as these rolls are in the cafe, it is pretty easy to make ’em at home.

Paneer Kathi Rolls

Ingredients:
Five Low-carb whole wheat tortilla rolls

One cup cubed Paneer

One big purple onion

Two Tomatoes

For the marinade:

Three Tbsps thick Greek yogurt

One Tbsp gram flour (or substitute with AP flour)

One tsp cayenne pepper powde

One tsp turmeric powder

One tsp Chat masala

One tsp Garam Masala

One tsp ginger-garlic paste

A generous pinch Kasoori Methi aka dried fenugreek leaves (optional but this is an amazing seasoning to have in your pantry if you are an Indian foodie. It freezes well too)

Salt

Two Tbsp vegetable (or canola) oil

Two cups of raw cabbage

One cup mint-cilantro-yogurt chutney (recipe follows)

Method:
Mix all the marinade ingredients. Add the Paneer cubes and let it rest for half hour. Meanwhile, thinly slice the onion, and wash, de-seed and dice the tomatoes. Heat the oil in a pan. When hot, add the onion and cook it on medium until translucent. Add the tomatoes and the marinated Paneer (and the remaining marinade) to the pan and let it cook until the mixture dries up and the tomatoes are mushy. To save the integrity of the Paneer, resist tossing it too much. When the stuffing is dry, switch off the heat. Finely slice the cabbage now. The beauty of this dish is the uncooked cabbage that acts as a bed of lettuce.

Heat the tortillas. spread them lightly with cabbage. Spread the Paneer mixture in the middle. Top it with the chutney and roll the tortilla as you would a burrito. Take a bite and tell me if it ain’t wonderful!

Mint-Cilantro-Yogurt Chutney:

Ingredients:
One cup mint leaves

One cup cilantro leaves

One cup thick yogurt

Half a lime

One shallot

One small piece ginger

One Thai chili pepper

Salt to taste

Method:
Whisk everything together in a blender. Add water if it is too thick. The Chutney should be of a thick consistency but not so thick that it refuses to let go of the spoon. You could call it an Indian Tzatziki if you wish to.

Serving Size: One roll for a snack, two rolls for a meal

Total Carbs: 20g each (with two Tbsp chutney in each roll)

 


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Off the Pizza Pan

My quest for making good quality pizza started the minute I watched Bobby Flay toss that pie on his barbecue grill one sleepy winter day. It was an old episode of Boy Meets Grill and Bobby was grilling away with the finesse only a well-seasoned chef is acquainted with. This time, instead of watching the pizza (topped with everything meat, signature Flay) sizzle, I realized that I must try baking a pie. Its been ten months since I watched the episode and I am proud to say that I am five Pizza Pies old.

Anyway, Monday was a cold day, huge surprise! My pizza base dough (courtesy Giada De Laurentiis) had been basking in the refrigerator for two days. Hence, it was only natural for me to bring it out and bake that pie. I had some home-made Paneer (cottage cheese) in the pantry which I marinated, in homage to the Paneer Tikka pizza we used to order back home from Pizzaurant, Chennai: the best Pizza place in the city.

So I started by marinating the Paneer in curd, a pinch of salt, a tablespoon Garam Masala, a teaspoon Chili Powder (cayenne pepper will work) and a teaspoon turmeric powder for two hours. Next, I chopped one small onion, half a bell pepper, half a Jalapeño and grated two large bulbs of garlic.

I then rolled out the base on a well-oiled and flour dusted pizza pan. After this, I added some mozzarella cheese to the pan, arranged the marinated Paneer, onion, bell pepper and garlic. I topped this with some more cheese (it may seem like I used a lot of cheese but in reality, it took less than half a cup to make this pizza delicious) and finished by sprinkling some salt, red pepper flakes, oregano and a drizzle of olive oil. The pie went into a 450 F (230 C) pre-heated oven for 15 minutes and came out bubbly, crispy and completely beautiful.