Kadhai Paneer

Nothing compares, nothing compares to you…


Indian cottage cheese or paneer is one of the most celebrated ingredients of our cuisine. In India, you can be sure to expect a paneer dish on the menu for all special occasions. Growing up I remember eating paneer ever so often. In curries, flatbreads and believe it or not even on a pizza.

Todays recipe combines succulent chunks of paneer with the earthiness of spinach and the sweetness of capsicum. Cooked in an Indian wok called a kadhai, this dish gets humbly called kadhai paneer.

Ingredients: 13  Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

  • 500gms of paneer, cut in bite sized cubes
  • One bunch of spinach, coarsely chopped
  • Two medium capsicums, finely sliced
  • One red onion, finely sliced
  • Two pods of garlic, minced
  • One teaspoon of ginger paste
  • 1.5 teaspoon of dried mint leaves
  • One tablespoon of garam masala
  • One teaspoon of coriander powder
  • One cinnamon stick
  • Two tablespoons of ghee
  • Salt to season
  • Fresh coriander to garnish

Heat ghee in a kadhai (wok). Add onion, ginger and garlic. Cook until aromatic and the onion is lightly caramelised.


Now add spinach, cinnamon stick, one teaspoon of dried mint leaves and half tablespoon of garam masala. Mix well, cover the pan and let the spinach wilt on a medium heat for four to five minutes.


Then add capsicum and paneer chunks, followed by rest of the dried spices, including remaining garam masala and dried mint leaves. Season with salt and mix well. Let the paneer and capsicum sear on a high heat for seven to ten minutes.


If you are an avid meat eater or vegan, you can replace paneer with chicken or tofu too.

Your kadhai paneer is ready to serve. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve alongside flaky parathas or on a bed of rice with raita. Eat it anyway you like and be rest assured nothing will compare to it.

Reshmi Dal (Creamy Lentil Curry)

It’s smooth like silk…

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Growing up in an Indian household, it will suffice to say I have had a very spoilt upbringing. Not spoilt by material things, but by unconditional love, limitless care and utterly delicious food. While at home I never spared a thought on ‘whats for dinner?’ because there one of my favourite dishes was always simmering away on the stove. Moving away from home has not only got me thinking about whats for dinner, but also cooking it! Cooking and eating Indian food is second nature to me, therefore most weeknights it is my preferred cuisine.

I do have some tried and tested recipes, but my inherent curiosity  always leads me to try new recipes and flavour combinations. There are two things I look for in a recipe – loads of flavour and ease of cooking. After all the last thing one wants to do following a long day at work is slave in the kitchen. Today’s recipe definitely has my two pre-requisites covered, but there is another added bonus – this dish is low in calories and high in nutrition.

I have called this recipe Reshmi Dal because it truly is smooth like silk and Reshm does actually mean silk in Hindi. I use canned brown lentils for this recipe, so you don’t need a pressure cooker – the dal can be made with great ease in a saucepan. This recipe in particular is an ode to all my Australian friends who love Indian food – give this recipe a go, I promise you will keep coming back for more.

Ingredients:  9    Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

  • 400 gms of canned brown lentils (I use the Annalisa brand)
  • One brown onion, finely chopped
  • Two inch piece of ginger, smashed
  • One cup of coriander, finely chopped (leaves and stems)
  • Three to four green chillies, halved
  • Two teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • 1.5 tablespoons of ghee
  • Salt to season
  • One tablespoon of light Greek natural yogurt to garnish

Heat ghee in a saucepan. Add cumin seeds and wait for them to crackle. Then add the finely chopped onions and cook until translucent.

Now add the smashed ginger, coriander stems and green chillies. Cook the onion mixture on low heat for four to five minutes.

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Rinse the lentils thoroughly, add them to the onion mixture and give the ingredients a good stir. Now add about three cups of water, salt to season, cover the saucepan and let the dal simmer for 10 to 12 minutes.

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Check the dal, as it cooks and the protein breakdowns the dal will transform into a creamy consistency. At this stage add half a cup of water, fresh coriander (spare some leaves for the garnish later), cover the saucepan and let the lentils simmer for another five to seven minutes.

Your dal is now ready to serve. Garnish with a dollop of natural Greek yogurt and coriader leaves, serve with steamed rice and simply dig in.

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Mango Lassi

Beat the heat Punjabi style with a Mango Lassi…

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Another staple in a Punjabi household all through summer is lassi, a chilled yogurt based drink which can be had plain, sweet, salted or flavoured with fruit.

I remember those scorching hot Indian summers and how my Mum made us religiously drink a glass of plain lassi everyday and mango lassi on extra hot days to beat the heat. Yogurt or dahi is the super food for summer, not only is it protein packed but also has fantastic cooling properties and a wealth of nutritional benefits.

The past few days in Melbourne have been absolute scorchers. While most of my Aussie mates rely on beer to beat the heat, your life will never be the same again once you try this delicious mango and yogurt concoction. It is sure to become a family favourite!

Ingredients: 5  Preparation time: 5 minutes

Serves: 2

  • One mango chopped
  • 250 ml greek natural yogurt
  • 150 ml of water
  • Four cardamom pods skinned and powdered (or 1/4 teaspoon of cardamom powder)
  • Sugar or honey to taste (this is optional)

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First peel and chop the mango. Second, add all the ingredients in a blender, including some ice cubes if you like your lassi really chilled and blitz the ingredients for about five to seven minutes.

The final step requires you to pour yourself a big glass and ENJOY!

Namkeen Parathas (Savoury Indian Flatbread)

East or west Parathas are the best…

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I miss a lot about India, but most of all I miss the food. Especially my mothers cooking. I don’t know what it is about mothers and their cooking, its like a slice of heaven in every bite. One of the things my mum makes are these perfectly square, really simply but utterly delicious namkeen parathas. These bad boys were a perfect accompaniment to delicious curries, dals and subzis (spiced vegetables) from Mumma’s kitchen.

Since moving to Australia I never really made Indian flatbreads at home, after all ordering a butter drenched naan from my favourite takeaway restaurant was easier. Then one day the craving for namkeen parathas struck and it was motivation enough to get my hands dirty.

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Now its time for you to get your hands dirty and enjoy the lip smackingly delicious namkeen parathas.

 

Ingredients: 5    Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves : 6
  • 500 gms of plain wholemeal flour 
  • 250 ml of water
  • Plain flour (extra to dust the parathas)
  • Ghee or olive oil (to brush the parathas)
  • Salt to taste

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In a bowl sieve the flour, I recommend getting the flour from your Indian grocer as the plain flour in the supermarkets does not yield soft parathas. Add water and knead the dough (this is such a therapeutic process, particularly if you have had a rough day), let the dough rest for 15 – 20 minutes prior to making the parathas.

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Once the dough is rested break it up into six equal parts and roll the dough into a round ball. Then flatten the dough ball by placing it between your palms and dust it with plain flour.

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Roll out the dough into a medium sized circle, season with a pinch of salt.

Now its time to layer the parathas to get that perfect square paratha. Take one side of the circle, fold it to the centre and do the same for the other side. Now take the two ends of each side and fold them to the centre. Dust the square with some plain flour and roll it out.

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Time to cook our namkeen parathas. Heat a frying pan or tava. Dust the excess flour off the paratha by flipping it between your palms and place it in the pan. 

Cook one side for about one to two minutes and flip it to the other side. Once the paratha is light browned on both sides brush it with ghee or olive oil. Cook the paratha on each side for one minute. Your namkeen paratha is now ready!

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Place the paratha on a plate and cover with aluminium foil, repeat the same procedure with the remaining five dough balls. 

Namkeen parathas can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I served mine  for breakfast with Indian style scrambled eggs that were cooked with onion, chilli and coriander and a side of pickle. You can find a similar scrambled eggs recipe with onion, parsley and cheese here, simply replace the parsley with coriander, add fresh green chillies and drop out the cheese for Indian style scrambled eggs…

Enjoy your namkeen parathas, you have earned them!

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