Paneer Bhurji

A wall of silence on the blog! While I may have not blogged for the last 2 weeks, a lot of cooking happened. Past few weeks have been all about cooking for family.

Late Holi wishes to everyone out here, this Holi we celebrated with our extended families, lots of food, laughter and a sense of belonging. Gujiyas relished from Old Delhi sweet shop. One of the best festive celebrations we have had since we embraced our expat lives in Dubai.

Gujiya

These days I’m trying to follow a high protein diet. Being a vegetarian, paneer or cottage cheese is the most common substitution for meat in Indian sub-continent. It is also an excellent source of calcium. 

If I’m busy, I just buy a block of cheese from Lulu’s or Bikanerwala or else make it at home. It is a staple in my pantry. While I love my Paneer with vegetables and in Makhni gravy, sometimes all you need is a no-fuss and easy to make dish.
On days like this, I have this recipe of Paneer Bhurji handy. A bhurji is simply means a scramble. On work day mornings, it gets ready in a jiffy including the prep and it means I can brown bag my lunch and not spend my molaah on take-aways.
Paneer Bhurji 1
Serves : 4
Prep Time : 5 minutes
Cooking Time : 10 minutes
 
Ingredients 
200 grams cottage cheese / paneer
2 medium sized onions finely chopped
2 medium sized tomato finely chopped
2 green chillies finely chopped
1 tsp tomato paste
5 tsp canola oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp chaat masala
1/4 tsp red chilly powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
One bunch of Spring onions greens finely chopped
Handful of coriander leaves finely chopped for garnishing
In a wok heat some oil, add cumin seeds. Let them sizzle and add green chillies and ginger garlic paste.
Onions
Add onions after a minute and cook them until they are translucent.
Masala
Add tomatoes, tomato paste and the dry spices and cook them until the mixture leaves a ring of oil on the sides.You can also add green peas and capsicum to the mixture.
With your hand just crumble the paneer lightly or you could use a box grater.
Paneer
Blend the paneer well with the onion-tomato mixture and cook for a while until the mixture is not quite moist.
Spring Onions
Sprinkle with the greens of spring onions and mix well. Garnish with coriander leaves and take the Bhurji off heat. I did not have some on hand hence no garnish for me 😦
Paneer Bhurji
Serve with fluffy phulkas or toasted bread with butter.
Next post I will bring you stories from my meeting with the MasterChef himself, Sanjeev Kapoor and the euphoria that followed after the same. Also my experience of meeting the Curry Queen – Camellia Panjabi, such a lovely lady. Me and Sahil had a really candid and heart warming conversation about differences in coastal cuisines and misrepresentation of Indian cuisine internationally on many instances. How we asked her to please write a new cook book and much more!

 Until next time, happy cooking! 🙂

Aloo Ki Sabzi – Spicy Potato Curry

Potatoes are such a versatile ingredient to work with. From making Fries, patties, hash browns to making Pav Bhaji, you can adapt this crop to whatever catches your fancy.

For a simple weekend lunch, I made this spicy and tangy potato curry and served it with some chapatis. A quick assorted salad and raita on the side make it a complete meal.

Serves : 4
Prep Time : 10 minutes
Cooking Time : 20 minutes

Ingredients
2 large potatoes boiled and cubes
1 large onion finely chopped
1 large tomato finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 dried red chillies broken in half
8-9 curry leaves
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp red chilly powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chaat masala
1/4 tsp garam masala powder
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1 cup water
4 tsp tomato paste
Salt to taste
4 tsp canola oil
Handful of fresh coriander leaves to garnish

Boil the potatoes in salted water. Let them cool and peel the outer skin, chop the boiled potatoes in cubes.

Heat oil in a wok, add cumin and mustard seeds. Once they start to crackle, add red chillies and curry leaves.

Let them sizzle for a while, add ginger garlic paste and cook for a minute until the raw flavor diminishes.

Add onions and cook them until they are translucent.

Add tomatoes and cook them for a few minutes.

Add tomato paste to this mixture and cook until it leaves out a ring of oil on the sides of the wok.

Masala1

Add all the dry masalas to this mixture and cook for a minute.

Add boiled potatoes and let it stand in the mixture so that it absorbs the masalas well.

Masala

Slowly add water to the potato mixture, you can choose to use less or more water as per the consistency desired for the gravy.

Cover the wok and let the curry cook for 5-7 minutes on medium heat. Keep stirring the mixture.

Take it off the heat and garnish with finely chopped fresh coriander leaves.

Spicy Potato Curry

Serve this with rotis or rice as per your preference.

The India Pavilion – Mall Of Emirates

I love Mall of Emirates, that was the first place Sahil took me to. It was my first outing when I came to Dubai some more than two and half years back. In the first week of being in Dubai, I visited the mall thrice. There are many firsts associated with this place, the first movie, the first grocery shopping, the first big splurge, the first coffee date (with the husband of course!) and so on.

That’s my go-to place for movies or shopping. On one such tiring shopping spree, we ended up at the first level food court of Mall of Emirates and visited The Indian Pavilion next to Vox Cinemas.

Papad Chatni

It offers good Indian good and the prices and service is pretty decent too. The restaurant provides complimentary fried papas with green chutney and pickle. How nice! Who doesn’t like a good crunchy one!

The restaurant has an interesting concept of ordering mains which is a complete meal or a platter in itself. It comes with an accompaniment of roti (flat bread) or pilaf rice, 2 falafels / aloo tikkis (potato patties), cucumber raita, home style split yellow lentils and mixed salad.

Baigan Bharta Platter

I ordered the Baigan Bharta, it simply means roasted and mashed aubergines cooked with spices. I loved the roasted smokey flavor of aubergine with green peas in onion and diced tomato gravy. The green peas required to be blanched a bit more, they were quite firm.

Baigan Bharta

The Bharta cooked at my place by my grandmother used to have more of tomatoes giving it a rich red color but in the restaurant it was with less tomatoes. I liked how they finished the whole dish with red chill infused oil. This was a hit!

Achari Paneer Platter

We also ordered Achari Paneer Mutter, that’s cottage cheese and green peas cooked in a spicy brown gravy of onions and spices. The cottage cheese was slightly tossed on a pan since it had browned on the edges. It was spicy and I loved the heat in the gravy, it was finished with a garnish of coriander and chili oil.

Paneer Tikka Masala Platter

We also ordered Paneer Tikka Masala on one visit, the paneer was soft and the gravy was tangy but not overtly spicy. The red onions, capsicum and tomato wedges were char grilled and we could see the sides browned evenly.

Paneer Tikka Masala
I am a gravy person and would have loved if it came with little more gravy. Nevertheless it was a good dish with a side of butter naan.

The accompanying pilaf was fragrant and mildly spiced, the dal was the best part of the platter. I can keep going back to this restaurant just for their yummy dal. It is perfect home cooked version of split yellow lentils tempered with green chillies, finely chopped onions and tomato.

The aloo tikkis (potato patties) served had a nice crust on the outside and were piping hot inside, the mashed potatoes had a strong flavor of roasted cumin. It also had soaked chana dal and grated onions.

Mixed salad and cucumber raita provided a refreshing feel to the otherwise spicy platter.

Lamb Madras Platter

Sahil enjoyed his Lamb Madras style, as per him, it was cooked nicely with hot red chilled and curry leaves. But it was quite basic, it was good but that great.

Add On

Being an ad guy, Sahil loved the packaging of their wet tissues and even clicked it as a reference. He finds them quite fragrant.

On a side note, I have also tried their Masala Dosa which was pretty soggy and not up to the mark. The restaurant has consistently disappointed us on it’s desserts. We once ordered Phirni which was served to us hot traditionally it is always served cold and the gulab jamuns they do were quite average hence we keep skipping the dessert order.

However when in MOE and in mood for good Indian food priced decently, I would visit them for more!

Locations : Level 1, Food Court – Next to Vox Cinemas, Mall of Emirates / Spinney’s Umm Suqeim

Pricing : Average AED 120-150 for meal for two

Rajma Masala – Red Kidney Beans Curry

Sundays in Punjabi households usually mean either two things. One the mums or grandmas are off duty and aren’t going to feed you at your beck and call and just make one pot wonders, or they do have a crowd to entertain and would be seen slogging a day before the feast is to be served.

For the casual Sunday mornings, at my place, it used to be poha, upma, bread pakoda or vegetable stuffed sandwiches for breakfast. The fussy ones in the household could eat just jam, butter and toasted bread :/

Lunch used to one pot meals or there comes any curry with basic pilaf rice or steamed rice. My grandma used to make Rajma / Samhar / Kadhi lovingly for us. She used to serve this with Cucumber Mint Raita, onions marinated in vinegar and salt and mango pickle.

Sunday lunch used to be a long affair with conversations drifting around family gossip, plans for the week to come, silly family jokes and general chit chat. Such a heavy meal used to ensure the kids retiring for an afternoon siesta and the ladies after patting them to sleep enjoying long tea sessions.

This recipe is inspired by the way Rajma used to be made at my family house.

Rajma Masala

I usually include legumes and beans in my diet. Red kidney beans being an excellent source of fiber and are recommended to individuals with high cholesterol and diabetics since they help regulate the blood sugar level. It also good source for keeping iron deficiency at bay and being a vegetarian, it helps me up my protein intake as well.

This recipe is inspired by the way Rajma used to be made at my family house.

Ready in 45 minutes
Serves : 6

Indgredients
4 tsp canola oil
1 1/2 cup red kidney beans / rajma
2-3 bay leaves
3 cloves
4 black cardamom
6 medium sized onions grated
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
6-7 large tomatoes pureed
1 tsp tomato paste
2 green chillies slit
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp roasted cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsp rajma masala
1 tsp kasuri methi / dried fenugreek
Handful of Coriander Leaves coarsely chopped
Ginger juliennes
Salt to taste

Soak the red kidney beans overnight. In the morning, add some salt, turmeric powder, cloves, bay leaves and black cardamom to soaked kidney beans with 5-6 cups of water and pressure cook until it has 5 whistles. Do not discard the stock once they have been cooked.

If you want to save yourself the trouble of remembering to do this the night before, just grab two cans of red kidney beans and you will be are sorted!

In a deep sauce pot, heat oil and add slit green chillies. Deseed the chillies if you do not want the heat, I prefer to have them as is, it gives a nice kick to the gravy.

Once the green chillies sizzle, add the ginger and garlic paste and cook them for a bit.

Rajma Masala2

Add the grated onions and cook them until they acquire a nice light brown color.

Rajma Masala1

Add the tomato puree and keep cooking the mixture for 8-10 minutes until it forms a ring of oil on the sides.

Mid way while cooking the onion tomato mixture add the tomato paste, coriander powder, salt, kashmiri chill powder, cumin powder, half of the garam masala and half of the rajma masala and blend the spices well.

Rajma Masala3

Add the cooked red kidney beans to the mixture and mix them well. Pay attention not to squish the kidney beans.

Add the stock from the pressure cooked rajma as per the consistency you wish and cook with a lid on. If you have used canned beans then you can use a cubes of vegetable stock.

After 3-4 minutes, mix well and add the remaining rajma masala and gram masala. Add kasuri methi, it makes the gravy quite fragrant. You may choose to skip the same.

At this stage I usually take a ladle full of kidney beans in a bowl and mash them with a back of spoon and add the mashed beans to the pot. This is a old trick my grandma uses to get a smooth consistency. This is how the mixture would look.

Rajma

Cook for another 10 minutes on medium heat and keep stirring at regular intervals. Add ginger juliennes and turn off the heat.

Rajma Masala

Voila! Serve hot with steamed rice and side of pickled onions and masala papad.

Paneer Sabz Bahaar- Stir Fried Cottage Cheese With Mix Vegetables

Mix Veg Paneer

Being a Punjabi and a vegeterian to that, Paneer (Cottage Cheese) is a staple in our meals at homes, be it Paneer Kulcha, Paneer Pakoda or Paneer bhurji made in a jiffy. I have adapted this recipe from Chef Vikas Khanna’s “Flavours First”. This book has got simple wholesome recipes using everyday ingredients.

Now I doubt that someone would have not heard about Vikas Khanna, however to just brief you. He is the poster boy of Indian cooking abroad. He is a Michelin starred chef who heads Junoon Hospitality based in New York. He has cooked for the US President umpteen times on invitation and also hailed as the “Sexiest Man Alive” by People Magazine. He is a judge on Master Chef India and I must say his boyish charm and down to earth nature, make him a delight to watch.

I especially loved his series “Holy Kitchens” wherein he explored the food sharing traditions of various religions. Here’s more on him from Wikipedia if you would like to know about Chef Vikas Khanna and his journey.

IMG_1499

I like cook books wherein you read a recipe and don’t have to resist the urge to cook right away just because the recipe demands a gourmet or exotic indegrient. Flavours First is one such book, Chef Vikas has enlisted his family recipes handed over to him by his Biji “grandmother”. The reason I was able to connect with his food philosophy so much was because like him, even my inspiration happens to me my grandmother. She taught me how the simple home cooked food can be soul nourishing and if made with love can be tasty.

I adapted this Cottage Cheese Cooked with Vegetables recipes from his book when my in-laws visited me in March. It was an instant hit with everyone. One Friday we all packed our picnic basket full of home made goodies and went to Al Safa park, the al fresco weather in Dubai was perfect and the slight nip in the air made our family get together just perfect.

IMG_1641

As you can see, we just ate them with Rajma Chawal (red kidney beans stew with steamed rice) and also Vanilla Sponge Cake Coated with Chocolate Ganache and garnished with Pistachios.

Vanilla Sponge Cake

You see when you got to please a big crowd, you need to incorporate elements to make everyone feel special.

A closer lookServes : 6

Ingredients

4 tsp canola oil
1 tsp minced ginger
2 large garlic cloves minced
2 small red onions thinly sliced
4 medium tomatoes chopped
1 large capsicum thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper diced
1 small yellow bell pepper diced
200 grams paneer diced
4-5 scallions green part thinly trimmed
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 red chilly flakes
1 tsp fennel powder
2 pinch cardamom powder
2 slit green chillies(optional)
1 tsp tomato puree / ketchup (optional)
Black pepper powder to taste
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a large wok (kadai) on medium heat, add cumin and let it splutter. Add slit green chillies if you can handle spice.

Add ginger and garlic and sauté it well for a minute.

Add onions and cook them until they are golden and start to brown.

Add tomatoes and cook them well with all the dry spices. Cook them for 2-3 minutes until they are saucy, make sure you don’t dry out the mixture.

Add bell peppers and cook until they are soft but not mushy. Keep stirring the mixture, you may add little water if need be.

At this point, I added little tomato puree. This is purely optional since I like the red color the puree lends to the veggies.

Add paneer at this point. You may shallow fry the paneer before adding it to the mixture. I omitted this since me and familia do not like deep fried paneer.

Cook the paneer over medium heat for about 5 minutes. This will enable the paneer to absorb the flavors from the mixture.

Add the scallions just before you remove the vegetable off heat or mix it towards the end, like I did. Sprinkle with black pepper and it’s good to be relished with hot chapattis or garlic naans.