I've been MIA for a few days now. Its just been a very eventful past few days - both good and not so good. One of the best things that happened in the last few days was that Nags from Edible Garden was here visiting me. She is such a delight to spend time with me and we were like two long lost friends chatting away and shopping and eating all the time! I had an absolute wonderful time with her and can't wait for our next meet up! There were a lot of surprised people who learnt that we've never actually met each other before. Nags - you are a goofy fun person and I loved all the fun we had over the weekend. And just so you know, I started my diet after you left - need to make up for all that we ate!
We did eat out most of the time. But, I prepared a few meals at home as well. Our dinner one night was this Kadai Paneer, Daal and Rotis. Nags absolutely loved the colorful peppers we have in our markets here and so we decided to make some kadai paneer with fresh red, green and yellow peppers. And also super fresh homemade paneer.
And for the ultimate flavorful kadai vegetables, the secret lies in the masala .The fresher the masala, the tastier the veggies are. And so it starts with this.
Dry roast these ingredients separately without any oil and when a nice aroma wafts out, move them to a plate.
I used all these below -
About 1/4 cup of fresh coriander seeds (Dhaniya)
Half of a 1/4 cup of fresh cumin seeds (Jeera)
Fresh Cinnamon - 2 to 3 small pieces of either the flat or the rolled cinnamon sticks
Fresh Cloves - 4-5 individual pieces
Black Pepper - about 1/2 tsp
Dried Red Chillies - about 2-3
Cardamom seeds - a pinch, either fresh peeled or fresh ground powder
After dry roasting all the above ingredients individually, grind all together into a coarse powder. This will be the fresh masala for the veggies and the paneer.
And the next step is to make the tomato-onion gravy for the kadai paneer. I like my kadai paneer not floating in gravy but just coated with a little moistness. And this kind of a thick paste like gravy works perfect for this dish.
For the gravy -
Fresh Garlic - 3-4 pieces
Fresh Ginger - chopped - about 1 tsp
Chopped onions - about 1/2 cup
Chopped juicy tomatoes - about 1 cup
Move the onion-tomato mixture to a small blender and blend into a smooth paste.
And now to make the Paneer.
This is a new recipe that I've been following for the last few times I made Paneer. This recipe was given to me by a friend Kavitha. She mentioned that she makes Paneer like this and its one of the best ways and gives the softest paneer. I agree whole heartedly with her now! Thanks Kavitha for this recipe!!
Heat up a whole gallon of milk and get it to almost a boiling point. Switch it off and immediately pour one 1 quart (32oz) of buttermilk little by little and keep stirring. You'll see the whey separating from the curdled paneer. Strain the paneer and try to take out as much whey as you can by squeezing out the paneer in a muslin cloth or a cotton towel.
Move the strained paneer to a food processor and process it until the consistency turns smooth and soft.
Move the paneer to a flat plate with raised edges preferably and press down even just using a flat spatula or even the palm of your hands. Let this sit for some time. If you can make the paneer earlier, let this sit for about an hour or two. I made it just then and hence did not let it sit much - maybe only about 5-10 mins. Using a knife, cut into small square any other shape you prefer.
Meanwhile, also chop up your favorite bell peppers and some onions into big chunks.
Saute each veggie separately in a tsp of oil. Cook for a couple of mins and then add a pinch of salt to taste and then add about 1 tsp of the fresh masala prepared as above.
Cook the onions first. Add 2-3 bay leaves with the onions for an extra flavor.
Then, cook the bell peppers one color at a time till they are quickly sauteed - they should still hold a little crispness and not be completely soft or mushed up.
Also, cut up a couple of tomatoes into long pieces and saute the same way and add the masala.
Lastly, fry the paneer separately and add all these flavoring below -
Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - a few pinches
Fresh ground masala - 1 1/2 tsps
Kasoori Methi - take about 1 tsp and rub them between your fingers before adding them to the paneer - this releases the flavor much better than just adding directly
Red Chilli powder - about 1 tsp
Fry the paneer pieces for a few mins till you see a few of them crisping up on the bottom and sides. Remove and place on top of the peppers.
Lastly, add the tomato onion paste made before and cook for a couple of mins. Add a pinch of turmeric and a pinch of red chilli powder and a little salt to taste just for this paste.
So, here are the veggies - all the grilled peppers at the bottom and then the sauteed paneer on the top.
Finally add the tomato paste to the veggies and paneer.
And using a fork, gently toss them around so that the veggies, paneer and the sauce all mix up well.
We all absolutely loved the fresh flavors of the Kadai Paneer. Serve hot with rotis or parathas or even as a side with some rice and daal.
If you have big tortillas, just roll these up and eat as a wrap. Perfect lunch.
Enjoy. Peace Out.
Click here for a Printable Recipe