Lasooni Chana Paneer

BM #112 : Week 3, Day 3
Theme : A-Z Curries

I got this recipe from a friend of mine and she told me that it’s her regular base recipe. She makes a big batch of the below garlic paste and the uses a spoon or two as needed for various Curries or rice preparations throughout the week. Here I have used the whole batch for a single curry and as you can guess from the ingredient list, it is a very spicy dish. You can always use half of the spice paste and make it less spicer or simple reduce the amount of chilies and black pepper.

Here I have used what I had at home which happened to be Chana and paneer. You can use any vegetable you have at home. If you are using this for rice preparations, go about it the same way – Sauté the prepared garlic paste in oil after cooking the onions, then cook along with vegetables of your choice and rice.

Between pepper and red chilies, the paste is really spicy, but I find the taste quite alright and not overwhelming for us. In a nutshell, the paste contains about one whole garlic, a big piece of ginger, Handful of red chilies, a handful of black pepper and a bit of Jeera. The measurements here are based on that and you can always adjust it according to your preference. This curry goes well with rice and roti. I prefer it with rice.

Read on for the recipe.

Ingredients:

For the garlic paste:

  • 2” piece ginger, peeled
  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • 10-12 red chilies or per taste
  • 3 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 teaspoon jeera

For the curry

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • Curry paste from above
  • 2 cups cooked Chana
  • 1 cup diced paneer or more
  • Salt as needed
  • Coriander leaves for garnish

Method:

  1. In a blender jar, grind the ginger, garlic, red chilies, pepper and jeera to a paste. Grind without water first, but if needed, add a spoonful of water to help with grinding. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a pan. Add onions and sauté until it turns pink. Add the ground masala and sauté till the raw smell goes away. Add the tomatoes and cover and cook until tomatoes are soft and done. You can sprinkle some water if the curry looks dry and starts to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  3. Add the cooked Chana, paneer, salt as needed and one cup of water. Mix everything well and add more water, if needed, to bring to the consistency of your choice. Bring it to a boil, taste test and adjust seasonings. Remove from heat, serve with rice or roti.

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Saag Paneer

BM# 101: Week 3, Day 2
Theme : 
Creamy gravies

There was a time when paneer was a once in a while treat, we would order it when we go to restaurants or buy for a stores on special occasions. Now, it’s so common that the fridge is always stocked with a block or two of paneer. My go to recipe for preparing this is Paneer butter masala, but palak paneer is a close second. I also add it in Pulaos or mixed vegetable curries. Another way to use it is as a sandwich or dosa filling. And that makes me realize how many more recipes I need to add to the blog!!

Coming to the recipe here, this is Saag paneer, another dish that I make often. Traditionally saag is served plain, not with paneer in it. Saag means greens and can be made with any greens available. If I see fresh mustard leaves at the Indian store, I buy it along with some spinach and methi leaves to make this. I use Instant Pot for making this instead of the stovetop pressure cooker.

Read on for the recipe.

Recipe source : Veg Recipes of India

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups spinach leaves
  • 1 cup methi leaves
  • 1 bunch sarson ka saag
  • 1 big onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2″ piece ginger
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 4 green chilies
  • A pinch of hing
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons corn flour (yellow maize flour)
  • Salt as needed
  • 200 gms paneer, cut into cubes
  • Ghee

Method:

  1. Wash the leaves well to remove any dirt. Roughly chop it. Add the spinach, methi, saag, chopped onion, chopped tomatoes, ginger, garlic, chilies, hing and water to the Instant Pot or a pressure cooker. Cook for about 8 minutes or 8 whistles. Let the pressure naturally release.
  2. Add maize flour/ corn flour to it. Take an immersion blender and purée everything. Else wait for the saag to cool a bit and blend in a mixie and add it back to the instant pot or cooker.
  3. Add salt and Let the saag cook for another 10-15 minutes, the more it cooks, the tastier it gets. Taste test and adjust the seasonings. Add the cubed paneer pieces towards the last five minutes. Take off the heat and serve with a dollop of ghee with rotis or parathas.

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Palak Paneer

2palak_paneer 

Palak paneer is one of my son’s favorite dishes and that is an achievement indeed. He hates rice, but when I think about it, even I wasn’t a big fan of rice or  koottu or most South Indian foods at his age  . I wouldn’t protest since I didn’t know any better, but I didn’t exactly love the food I was served either. And look at me now…I love all foods and South Indian is my favorite. So maybe it’s just a game of not giving up now and feeding him even though he eats with a look of martyrdom and a loud sigh. And hope that he will learn to love it as time passes by.

But some recipes are his favorites. Palak paneer is one of those. Even if you serve it with rice, there are no complaints. There is obvious delight and no questions are asked. I won’t say that I make it regularly, but I do make it at least once a month. Don’t want to jinx the special status of the dish by making it regularly. 

I used to try my friend’s recipe for a long time, but now found another recipe at this site and that’s what I have been making for the past couple of times. Basically it’s spinach cooked with ginger, green chilies, garlic and onion. A few more items and the dish is complete. Palak paneer is a mild dish and you usually don’t add a lot of spice powders, letting the spinach shine over everything else. 

Read on for the recipe. This serves about 4-5 people. 

4palak_paneer

Serves 4-5 people

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon ghee
  • 1/2 teaspoon jeera
  • 1″ piece of ginger, chopped fine
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 green chilies, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder or per taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder 
  • A pinch of ground nutmeg 
  • 1/4 cup thick yogurt, optional
  • 2 bunches of spinach, about 600gms, chopped roughly 
  • 200 gms paneer 
  • 2-3 tablespoons of cream, optional

Method:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter or oil in a pan. Add 1/2 teaspoon of jeera seeds. Once it changes color, add 1″ piece of chopped ginger, couple of chopped green chillies and 3-4 crushed or chopped garlic cloves. Once this turns golden in color, add one roughly chopped medium onion. Sauté until it turns pink. 
  2. Chop and add one medium tomato to the sautéed onions. Let it cook for a couple of minutes. Add all the spices – 1/2 teaspoon each of turmeric powder, chili powder, coriander powder, a pinch of ground nutmeg and salt as needed. Cook for a further minute or two. 
  3. Add 1/4 cup of yogurt and mix well. You can switch off the heat and let the curry cool a bit before adding the yogurt if you want. I didn’t do that. 
  4. Add 3 bunches of spinach, about 750 gms, that’s roughly chopped and cook until it shrinks in size and is wilted. Taste test and adjust seasonings if needed. Take off the heat and let it cool down. 
  5. Purée this mixture in a blender. Now add it back to the pan and bring it to a slow simmer. Add the cubed paneer pieces as well and let it cook together for a few minutes. You can add a few tablespoons of cream if you wish. Take off the heat and serve hot with chapati or jeera rice. 

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Bengali Thali

I was standing there, watching the waves dance. Hubby and kiddo were playing hide and seek with the waves. Teasing the water to come and touch their feet.

At the horizon, the anchored ships had switched the lights on, they were now twinkling like little stars far far away.

I decided to let the waves kiss my feet. I wanted to feel the salty, chilling water wash away all my worries. I looked down to watch them come and bury my feet in the sand.

Only I couldn’t. My paunch was coming in between.

Not one to take a hint easily, I stretched a bit further to see the waves bury my feet. I could still not see my feet, only my paunch was visible.

OK, I get the message. Time for some serious measures to watch my weight. No more fatty food.

While I ponder over the point, you guys enjoy this great thali, dishes prepared from the state of Bengal. Just like dieting sounds alien to me, Bengali cuisine is also foreign for me. So thanks a ton, Vaishali, for your insight into Bengali food and for helping me design the menu. Without your help, I would have been totally lost!

Like Kerala Sadya, Bengali food too has some rules when it comes to the food. I read about Bengali Cuisine here, written by Sandeepa of Bong Mom’s Cookbook.

Rice is the main cereal there, just like in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The first course has bitter gourd or neem leaves (something bitter) in it, this is supposed to have cleansing properties.

It is followed by rice and dal, with a fried bhaja or any other seasonal vegetable as a side dish. Fish and meat courses follow, but for vegetarian meals, paneer is a common substitute.

Then comes the chutney round. I tried getting pineapples, but I was out of luck that day. Went in for a raw mango chutney, and boy! it tasted so good.

The last round is yogurt and then some sweet. I made misti doi. I cooked the milk in the pressure cooker and I don’t know what I did wrong, the texture didn’t come out right. The taste was yum, but the texture didn’t come close to even my usual thick yogurt. Just bad luck, I guess.

The menu:

  • Vegetarian Dishes/ Curries
    • Ucche Bhaja : Bittergourd cooked and fried in oil
    • Begun Bhaja : Deep fried eggplant
    • Aloo Poshto : Potato in Poppy seeds (I was not able to grind the seeds properly!)
    • Cholar Dal : Dal made with chana dal, made on festivals and special occasions.
    • Chanar Dalna : Paneer and green peas curry
  • Rice
  • Sides
  • Sweet
    • Rasgolla : Paneer balls, cooked in sugar syrup

Ingredients for Eggplant fry (Begun Bhaja):

For Ucche Bhaja, bitter gourd fry, substitute brinjal with bitter guard and follow the same recipe. 

  • Eggplant , big variety              : 1
  • Turmeric powder                     :  1/2 tsp
  • Salt
  • Oil for deep frying

Method:

  1. Wash and pat the brinjal dry. Cut into 1/2″ thick round slices.
  2. Apply salt and turmeric powder.
  3. Heat oil in a pan. Deep fry brinjal until crisp and brown on both sides.
  4. Drain on a paper towel and serve hot.
  5. I have cut mine too thin. It should be a little more thick.

Except for the rasgolla and the dal, I am making everything for the first time. I hope I have done it right. This is a first time Bengali thali for me and I really loved the food. Who thought eggplants would be so tasty when fried with salt and a pinch of turmeric?!

Aam Pora Sherbet:

Ingredients:

  • Raw Mangoes          :        2
  • Sugar                           :   a varying quantity, depending totally on the sourness of mangoes. Start with 1/3 cup
  • Salt                               :     a pinch
  • Mint leaves               :   a handful, optional
  • Water or Soda for serving : 4-5 cups, again need to taste test and adjust accordingly.

Method:

  1. The first step is to get the mango pulp. Then for serving, the pulp can be diluted with water or with soda.
  2. Wash, clean and pat the mangoes dry. Roast them directly in open flame (like how we do for Baingan bhaja) or I guess you can bake them until they are soft as well.
  3. Turn the mangoes with a pair of tongs cook both sides. Once the skin is black and blistered, keep aside to cool.
  4. Once its cool to handle, peel the charred skin off. Wash thoroughly so that there are no burnt pieces left and squeeze the pulp out. Collect it in a bowl.
  5. Add sugar and a pinch of salt and handful of washed mint leaves (optional) and blend in a mixer/blender.
  6. This is the concentrate. I finished off mine then itself , so never really got around storing it.
  7. Add 3-4 cups of water and blend again. Check the sugar and add more if required. The quantity of water and sugar will depend on the sourness of mangoes. So start with a lesser quantity and work your way upwards.
  8. Pour into tall glasses and serve cool with ice cubes.

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