This is going to be my last post for 2014. Oh! What a year it has been….personally and professionally. A lot of ups and downs, good and bad……every bit a learning curve or an experience that has matured and wizened me plenty.
Super-busy days, I have not been cooking much. Christmas was at a friend’s place so put up my feet and let someone else feed me for a change. And since we really cannot think of or take a long vacation, we are having little outings most days with trips to the CBD, local eateries, movies etc…..
But the break from the kitchen is not for long; we are hosting the New Year’s Eve party for our friends at our place. So it’s back to menu planning, shopping and preparations for the big day.
I wanted to share one last post with all of my readers before bidding adieu to 2014. Today’s dish is rather special as it is one of the first paneer dishes that I learnt to cook at the beginning of my culinary journey. And I thought this is the perfect way to end this festive or must I say, the ‘feast’ive season.
Paneer tawa masala is famous as a street dish, as this is usually prepared on a large tawa or flat cast iron pan which really lends a lot of flavour and oomph to this dish. But at home, I do not have a tawa and used a regular pan. The flavours are still delicious and this is undoubtedly my favourite paneer dish of all.
Paneer is often referred to as the Indian cottage cheese; it is available at most stores these days, especially the Indian specialty ones. It is also super easy to prepare paneer at home and if you would like to, then this is the page you must visit.
The medley of spices and aromatics simmered in ghee or clarified butter is what makes this paneer tawa masala super delicious. It is perfectly spiced, not too hot and is a dish that anyone who loves Indian flavours would enjoy. Pair it with hot Indian flat breads and a yoghurt dip on the side and you have an amazing dish on your hands. I also included a side of saffron rice with nuts to go with this meal to complete the thali.
So, here’s how you make paneer tawa masala; succulent cubes of cottage cheese simmered in a gravy of spices, aromatics and tomatoes. Yumm!
1. Paneer – 500gm, cubed
2. 2 tbsp ghee/clarified butter
3. 2 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
4. 1 inch ginger root
5. 4 cloves garlic
6. Green chillies – 2, chopped
7. 4 cloves
8. 3 green cardamom
9. 1tbsp butter
10. ½ tsp dry fenugreek leaves
11. ¼ tsp garam masala
12. ¼ tsp carrom/ajwain seeds
13. 1 medium onion, finely chopped
14. ½ inch ginger, cut into fine slivers
15. ¼ th tsp turmeric powder
16. ½ tsp red chilli powder
17. 1 tsp coriander powder
18. Salt – to taste
19. Coriander leaves – a handful, chopped
20. 1 tsp cream/grated cheese, for garnish
• Blend the ginger and garlic to a paste.
• Heat ghee in a pan and add the ginger-garlic paste. Saute till the raw smell disappears and the garlic browns lightly.
• Then add the finely chopped chillies and tomatoes. Saute on medium heat till the tomatoes turn mushy (this takes about 5 minutes).
• Meanwhile, crush the green cardamom and cloves.
• Once the tomatoes turn mushy, add the cardamom-clove powder and mix well to combine.
• Next switch off the heat, cool lightly and blend the mixture; use this as the base gravy for the dish.
• Heat the same pan again, add butter followed by the blended gravy. Add water to adjust thickness of gravy.
• Add the dry fenugreek leaves and garam masala and cook on low flame till the gravy thickens. Remove from heat and keep aside.
• Next, heat a tawa (flat girdle) or pan (if you don’t have a tawa like me) and add a tbsp or two of ghee.
• Crackle ajwain or carom seeds and then add one chopped onion.
• Next add ginger slivers and sauté well.
• Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, salt and paneer cubes. Mix this thoroughly to coat the paneer cubes. Add a few tbsps of water if necessary. Cook on low heat for around 2 minutes and remove from flame.
• Add this to the prepared gravy and bring to boil.
• Switch off flame and garnish with coriander leaves.
• Add a dash of cream or grated cheese on top as garnish just before serving.
And before signing off, wishing all of you a blessed and prosperous New Year….filled with love, peace, joy and more food!