Shahi Paneer

shahi paneer

 

As one is aware any shahi dish is quite rich with a gravy based on dry fruits such as almonds, melon seeds and cashew added along with a dairy product like yogurt, curds or cream.  Sometimes I do wonder how the nawabs lived on rich bases of this kind forever!

S is an anti-yogurt  man and naturally any dish made for him  has to be devoid of yogurt (at least explicitly!)

I decided to add peas too as all of us love peas in any dish

Ingredients  (For 4 servings)

  • Cottage cheese/Paneer (cut into cubes)   300 g
  • Dried red  chilli (Kashmiri or Bydage)  8
  • Green cardamom or black cardamom 2
  • Soaked cashew  10 or 12
  • Almonds soaked  (optional) 10
  • Cnion 2 big or 3 medium-sized cut into slices
  • Tomatoes (chopped)  4 medium or 2 big ones
  • Ginger (finely chopped)  2″ piece
  • Beaten curd or milk  ½ cup
  • Bay leaf  1
  • Cumin seeds 1 tsp
  • Oil 2 tbsp
  • Cumin Powder ½ tsp
  • Turmeric powder ½ tsp
  • Chilli Powder ½ tsp
  • Garam Masala ½ tsp
  • Salt 1 tsp
  • Water ½ cup
  • Dried kasoori methi (finely crushed) 1 tsp
  • Coriander leaves (finely chopped) 1 tbsp

Method

  • In a wok heat 1 tbsp of oil and saute onions till they start looking translucent.  Add the red chilies and cardamom and saute for 2 minutes before adding the  diced tomatoes to it.
  • When the tomatoes soften add the cashew and let the mix cool to room temperature. Add the finely chopped ginger to this mix and puree to a fine paste in a blender.
  • While the mix for the puree is cooling heat the remaining oil in a wok and temper with cumin seeds, add the bay leaf and saute on low flame for a few seconds before adding the turmeric powder, chili powder garam masala, and salt.
  • When the raw smell is gone add the finely blended puree and let it start bubbling. At this stage add the finely crushed methi and cook for a minute before adding water.
  • When the gravy starts bubbling add paneer and cook for 5 minutes. Add water and keep on low flame for a couple of minutes. Remove from fire and garnish with coriander leaves.
  • Serve hot with chapathis.

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Chef’s Note

  • If you like to get a smooth silky texture as obtained in the restaurants strain the ground puree through a colander before transferring to the wok.

Vegetable Stew (4 Servings)

veg stew

A healthy simple Keralite dish that goes well with Aappam, dosai or even idly. G prefers it with rice and I normally make it with Jeera rice or plain peas rice.

Often known as Ishtu in many parts of Kerala, this dish can be made with potatos alone.

Ingredients

Cauliflower  (cut to small florets)  2 cups

Potato  (2 medium-sized) cut to small cubes after peeling

Fresh peas  (shelled) 1 cup

Onion 2 (medium-sized)

Green chillies  3 slit

Salt 1 tsp

Sugar ½ tsp

Coconut oil 1 tbsp

Coconut milk 1 cup

Curry leaves from 2 or 3 sprigs

For the spice bag

Pepper corns crushed  1 tsp (about 15)

Cinnamon 2″ piece

Cloves 5 or 6

Ginger grated 1 tsp

Bay leaves 2

Method

  • Crush all the spices mentioned coarsely in a mortar with pestle and make a spice bag with them.
  • Add ½ cup water to pressure pan and add the salt n sugar to water. Transfer the cut vegetables to the water in the pan and place  the spice bag and chillies among the vegetables. Place a small plate on top of the vegetables and place the onions on the plate. Close the pan and pressure cook the vegetables for two whistles.
  • Mash  the cooled onions or puree as per preference. I prefer to puree them.
  • Heat oil in a pan and saute the onion puree for a minute or two. Transfer the cooked vegetables (after removing the spice bag) to the pan and add a little water if too thick. If you are using freshly extracted coconut milk, add thin coconut milk from second extraction instead of water.
  • When it starts boiling add thick coconut milk and leave on low flame for two or three minutes. As soon as it starts boiling  garnish with curry leaves and switch off the flame. DO NOT boil after adding coconut milk.

Chef’s Note  If you like other vegetables such as carrot, beans or bell pepper you can add the same to the mix of vegetables and pressur cook.

  •  Similarly if like to get the crunchy feel of onions, you can slice them thin and saute them instead of pureeing and saute in oil  before  adding veggies.

GJ Kofta (6 servings)

Ingredients

For koftas

Gulab jamun mix   100 g

Cooking oil   1 cup

Raisins      ¼  cup

Green chillies  4 (finely diced)

Turmeric powder ¼ tsp

Salt  ½ tsp

Chilli powder   ½ tsp

Cumin powder ¼ tsp

Gravy

Onion  3 (medium-sized)

Tomatoes  3 (big)

Ginger  2″ piece

Cashew nut  10 to 15 (soaked)

Spices for gravy

Turmeric powder ½ tsp

Chilli powder  1½ tsp

Dhania powder ½ tsp

Cumin powder ½ tsp

Salt  1 tsp

Garam masala   1 tsp

Cumin seeds 1 tsp

Cilantro leaves   2 tbsp (finely cut)

Method

  1. Take gulab jamun mix in a bowl and add raisins and the spices and mix well.  Add about one-third cup of water to make a soft but firm dough and make about 16 balls.
  2. Heat oil in a frying pan and deep fry the jamun balls on medium flame till they turn golden brown. Drain off the excess oil and arrange them in a shallow or flat wide bowl.
  3. Grind the onion to make a puree.  Heat about a table spoon of oil in a pan and let the cumin seeds splutter. Add the onion paste and saute till the color changes golden brown and the raw smell is gone. Add all the spices and saute on low flame till the spices blend well and aroma starts.
  4. Puree the tomatoes, cashew, and ginger and to sauteed onions and cook on low flame till tomatoes are cooked.
  5. Add about 1½ cups of water and let the gravy simmer on low flame.
  6. Pour the hot gravy  along the side of the kofta balls about 10 minutes before serving and garnish with cilantro leaves.

Makes a lovely side dish for chapathis and can also be had with jeera rice.

Aloo-Mutter-Paneer (6 servings)

Ingredients

Potato ½ kg tsp

Paneer  200 g

Shelled peas 1 cup

Onion  3 (medium-sized)

Tomato 3 (Indian size big)

Ginger-Garlic paste 1 tbsp

Amchur 1 tsp or 2 scales of tamarind (soaked)

Chilli powder 1½ tsp

Cumin powder 1 tsp

Coriander powder 1 tsp

Turmeric powder ½ tsp

Garam masala powder 1 tsp

Salt  1 ¼ tsp or to taste

Oil  2 tbsp

Finely diced coriander leaves  2 or 3 tbsp

Method

  • Peel the potatoes and after washing cube them into 1″ pieces.
  • Cube paneer also into 1″ pieces.
  • Make make a paste of onion in the blender along with tamarind. (In case of preference for amchur skip tamarind and add amchur along with the other spices).
  • Puree the tomatoes and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a wok and let the cumin seeds splutter. Add the onion paste, ginger-garlic paste and saute till the raw smell is gone. Keeping a low flame add all the spices (except garam masala powder)and salt. Saute for a minute or two and add tomato puree.
  • When the mix thickens and starts giving out oil, add potatoes and pressure cook for one whistle.
  • When the cooker is ready to be opened, add paneer pieces and shelled peas and cook for minute or two till the peas are done.
  • Add garam masala powder and cook for another minute.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.

Rajma (4 servings)

Ingredients

Kidney beans 200 g (mottled variety or dark red)

Cinnamon 2″ stick

Cloves 4

onions 2 medium-sized

Tomatoes 2 big

Ginger grated 1 tbsp

Readily available Rajma masala 3 heaped tsp or make a mix of the following:

Coriander powder 1 tsp

Cumin powder   ¾ tsp

Chilli powder 1 tsp

Amchur  1 tsp

Garam masala  1 tsp

Turmeric powder ½ tsp

Salt 1 tsp

Jaggery  small piece

Oil  1 tbsp

Cumin seeds 1 tsp

Method

Soak rajma overnight in 4 glasses of water.
Drain the excess water the next morning and leave just enough water to keep rajma moist. Add half the salt to rajma and make a spice bag of cinnamon and cloves. Add it to rajma and pressure cook rajma till it is soft. Four to five whistles from the cooker should do the job.

While rajma is getting cooked grind the onions to a paste and also make a puree of tomatoes separately.

Heat oil in a kadai and add the cumin seeds. As soon as the seeds splutter add the onion paste and saute till it starts changing color. Add tomato puree, ginger and saute for  2 or 3 minutes. Keep a low flame and add turmeric powder, masala ingredients, and salt.  Cook till the spices start giving the aroma and add the cooked rajma after discarding the spice bag. Add jaggery and water (if the need be) to get semi-solid consistency. Cook till it is uniformly mixed. Remove from fire and garnish with finely cut fresh coriander leaves.

Chole/Chana (6 servings)

Ingredients

Chickpeas 250 g (soaked overnight)

Dried gooseberry (amla) 2 pieces

Tea leaves 1 tsp

Onion (medium-sized) 2

Tomatoes ( Indian big) 2

Ginger-garlic paste 1 tbsp

Tamarind 2 scales or lemon juice 1 tbsp

Soda bicarb ½ tsp

Cumin seeds 1 tsp

Turmeric powder ½ tsp

Chilli powder 1 tsp

Dhania powder 1 tsp

Cumin powder ½ tsp

Chana masala 1 tsp

Chaat masala 1 tsp

Salt 1 tbsp

Jaggery (powdered) 1 tsp

Cooking oil 2 tbsp

Method

Drain excess water from chana to adjust the volume to 1 or 1½ cups water.

Make a small muslin pouch of tea leaves and amla and drop it to the soaked chana. Add soda to the soaked chana,  half the salt,  and pressure cook for 3 to 4 whistles.  When cooled discard the muslin bag, drain the stock and keep aside. Take a handful of cooked chana and mash well to a paste.

While the chana is getting cooked, grind the onions and tamarind to a paste and keep aside. Also make a puree of tomato and keep it ready.

Heat oil in a wok and when hot enough add the cumin seeds. As the seeds start crackling, add the ground onion past; a minute later add the ginger garlic paste and saute well on a medium flame till the raw smell is gone and aroma emanates. Add the tomato puree and saute well till a thick gravy is formed. Add to the gravy, turmeric powder, dhania powder, cumin powder and remaining salt and stir well on a low flame. If the masala gets dry, add the chana stock to get a pasty consistency. A minute later, add the cooked chana, jaggery, and stir well. Add a cup of water and the mashed chana and stir well. As the mix starts boiling add chana masala and chat masala. Mix well and cook on low flame for a minute. Garnish with plenty of fresh green cilantro leaves.

In case you prefer lemon juice skip tamarind and add lemon juice to the end.

Chef’s note

I prefer to skip  soda as it leaches out the nutrient, but it helps in cooking the chan extra well. So it is optional.

Vegetable Korma (4 Servings)

Vegetable Korma

Ingredients

Cumin seeds 1 tsp

Medium-sized onions 2

Ginger-garlic paste  1 tbsp

Tomatoes  (medium) 2

French beans cut into 1″ pieces   1 cup

Shelled peas   1 cup

Potatoes cut into 1″ pieces   1 cup

Carrot cut into 1″ pieces   ½ cup

Cauliflower as small florets  1 cup

Yogurt   1 cup (optional)

Oil 2 tbsp

Salt  1 ½ tsp

To grind to a paste

Green chillies 3

Dry red chillies 2

Cinnamon 2″ piece

Cloves 4 or 5

Roasted split gram (pottukadalai)  2 tbsp

Coconut grate   2 tbsp

Fennel seeds  1 tsp

Khus khus (poppy seeds) 1 tsp  (soaked in warm water for 10 minutes)

Cashew 10 to 12  (optional)

Method

Grind the onions to a smooth paste. Similarly puree the tomatoes and keep aside.

Add just enough water to the masala ingredients to grind to a smooth paste.

In a pan pour about ½ cup water, add 1 tsp salt and add all the washed and cut vegetables. Cover with lid and pressure cook for 5 minutes or so till just done.

Place a wok on fire and add the oil to heat it tempering temperature. Add the cumin seeds and as soon as it starts spluttering add the ground onion paste and ginger-garlic paste. Saute well till the raw smell disappears. Add the tomato puree and saute for about 2 or 3 minutes.

Add the masala paste and the remaining salt to the paste. As it starts boiling, lower the flame and add yogurt. After a minute or two add the boiled vegetables, stir well and cook for five minutes.

Serve hot.