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Paneer Kathi Rolls ~ Or how to use extra rotis

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Paneer Kathi Rolls

Paneer Kathi Rolls

Stuck with extra rotis and don’t know what to do? Or tired of eating sabzi roti for a packed lunch? Here is an easy no fuss way to make Kathi rolls at home. I have deliberatedly omitted adding raw onions as a courtesy to a working lunch! but feel free to add them in the layers if you wish to!

Paneer Kathi Rolls (Serves 2)

Paneer                                                             100 grams, cubed small

Onion                                                               1 small, sliced

Tomato                                                            1 small diced

Garam Masala Powder                                  ½ teaspoon

Amchur Powder                                             ¼ teaspoon

Coriander Powder                                          ¼ teaspoon

Red Chilli Powder                                          a pinch

Salt                                                                  to taste

Oil                                                                    1 teaspoon

Lemon Juice                                                  a few drops

Chapathi                                                         4-5

For the Filling

Heat the oil and add the onions, fry them till they are translucent. Add the tomatoes and sauté for a few minutes till they begin to lose shape.

Add the red chilli, salt, amchur powder, garam masala and coriander powder and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the cubed paneer and cook covered for 4-5 minutes.

Make sure the paneer is not overcooked and is nice and fluffy. Add a few teaspoons of water if you would like, but it should not have a runny gravy.

Cool the filling mixture. Add the lemon juice and mix.

Spread out the chapathis on a work surface. Spoon over 2 tablespoons or more if needed of the paneer filling onto the chapathis and roll into a kathi roll. Fix it with a tootpick.

Lay out on a paper towel in the lunch box. Alternatively, wrap each kathi roll in foil and pack.

Celebrating the Monsoons ~ Paneer Pakoras

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If I am heating up a kadai of oil for deep frying (or even the oven) I try and make a couple of things to get more bang for my buck. P, my neighbour who taught me to make Pindi Chole once mentioned Paneer Pakoras that she would make. They moved to the US atleast 5 years ago, each time I have paneer I think of those pakoras. This time I made it and tried to remember the ingredients she mentioned, checking online for some recipes. Then went with my standard pakora batter recipe.

Melty Paneer inside a crisp batter

The paneer inside the pakora was melt in the mout soft and the batter coating fried to a delicious crisp outside. It was one of those surprisingly easy yet tasty recipes. Totally worth the deep frying.

The recipe makes about 30 paneer pakora fingers with a 200 gram block of store bought paneer.

Paneer Pakora (Batter Fried Cottage Cheese Fingers)

(Serves 4)

Paneer – 200 grams block
Gram Flour / Besan Flour – ¾ cup
Ajwain Seeds – ½ teaspoon
Red Chilli Powder – ½ teaspoon
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying
Soda bi Carb – a pinch

Cut the Paneer into ½ inch thick slices. You can halve them or leave them like fingers
Mix the Gram Flour with the salt, soda, red chilli powder and the Ajwain seeds. Mix water a little at a time to form a thick batter.
Heat oil in a frying vessel and when hot, dip the pieces of Paneer into the batter and drop it gently into the hot oil. Do this in batches of 5-6.
Fry for a minute on medium heat till golden, turn over and fry the other side too. Drain on tissue paper. Serve hot.

Baking ~ Multi Grain Bread Rolls Stuffed with Cottage Cheese and Herbs

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I made these yummy bread rolls and used it in an article on healthy eating I did recently for a publication. Healthy bread ~ did you just do an eye roll? Well they’re made from the same multi grain atta (flour) that is used for regular rotis (Indian flat bread) and the stuffing was a mix of low fat cottage cheese, low fat cheddar and a lot of vegetables and herbs, it was a good specimen to showcase how bread need not be treated as the enemy. Every time I see a blanket accusation that carbs are bad, or bread is to be avoided, I have this urge to dropkick the person who preaches this like the gospel truth. Eating every food group is essential; just don’t overdo the sugars and the white stuff and the refined stuff. Shunning any food group for reasons other than medical and upon medical advice especially for fad diets is ridiculous. While I am not qualified to comment on nutrition, I do follow what my common sense tells me to do.

Onto the rolls now… I’d been seeing the sweet version of bread rolls in the form of cinnamon rolls or pumpkin rolls all over the blogosphere (still not sure if that is a word) around autumn / Halloween and was tempted to try them out. Around Christmas, my namesake sends me a package with some baking supplies as a present. It also had a few sachets of instant yeast. Anyone who is baking with yeast inIndiawill tell you how difficult it is to find good yeast. The boxed stuff we get here needs to be proven and prayed over for it to rise well. But this was great yeast and I had to use it immediately. I made two versions, sweet and savoury that I will hopefully post quickly (hopefully). The average time I take to post a recipe here from the time I make it is …. Well I’d be ashamed to post the number here. Let’s just say it takes between a few days to a few years… yes I have posted posts that have been in drafts for say a year or more too and a lot of stuff still sits there…

Here is the recipe for the rolls. I used a commercially available Multi-grain chapatti atta which is 75% whole wheat and 25% assorted grain flour. Feel free to use all whole wheat flour or replace half with white/refined flour or Maida.

Cottage Cheese and Herb Stuffed Multi-grain Bread Rolls (makes 10 rolls)

Multigrain flour (regular atta) – 2 1/2 cups

Dry active yeast – 1 teaspoon

Olive oil – 2 tablespoons

Warm milk – ½ cup

Salt – ½ teaspoon

Sugar – 1 teaspoon

Chilli Flakes – 1 teaspoon (optional)

For the filling

Shredded Cottage Cheese – 1 cup ( I used home made paneer, crumbled)

Grated low fat cheese – ¼ cup (optional)

Shredded vegetables of choice – 1 cup (I used a mix of colored peppers, grated carrot, onion and finely chopped mushrooms)

Fresh herbs like mint, coriander, celery leaves or basil – ½ cup chopped fine

Salt to taste

Red chilli powder – ½ teaspoon

Mix all the ingredients together and set aside for use.

For the topping

Olive oil – 1 tablespoon

Garlic clove – 1 peeled and crushed

Sesame seeds – 2 tablespoons toasted

mix this together and set aside for use.

Method

In a bowl, mix the warm milk, sugar and yeast till the yeast is dissolved. Set aside for 20 minutes till it is frothy.

Mix the flour with salt and chilli flakes, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and the rest of the ingredients including the milk and mix well, adding water to make a soft almost sticky dough.

On a clean surface, dust some dry flour; knead the dough with your palms for about 5 minutes till it becomes elastic. Oil it with the remaining olive oil and put it in a bowl to rise for 1 hour, cover with a clean damp cloth/ cling wrap.

After an hour, take the puffed up dough, punch it down and knead again. Divide into two equal portions, on a floured surface with a rolling pin roll out into a ½ inch thick rectangle.

Mix all the ingredients for the filling together.

Spread half of the filling on the rolled out dough. Lift up two ends of the roll and roll it in gently to make a cylinder. Slice into 4-5 equal parts and place it in a greased baking tray. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.

Cover the rolls and let them rise for 30 minutes. Brush with the olive oil glaze, sprinkle sesame seeds liberally on top.

Bake in a preheated oven at 220 degrees F for 30 minutes till the tops are golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Note: Oven temperatures and hence baking times may vary. Do a skewer test to check for doneness.

These rolls are best eaten fresh and warm from the oven. But they do keep well for a couple of days in the fridge. Just gently reheat before you serve them.

Home made Cream Cheese Spread with Celery, Cumin and Chilli Flakes

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Too much milk on hand and a thick bunch of fresh celery gave me an idea. I started off making herbed cottage cheese using the milk, cumin and celery. I felt lazy and instead of draining it out and using a muslin cloth with a weight to make it into a block, I let the whey drain out in the colander. I ended up with a ricotta like texture. So voila cream cheese was born!

this is an easy recipe and can be made using whatever herbs and spices you have on hand/prefer. Use it with crackers/ breadsticks/ khakra/ vegetable crudites or as a spread for sandwiches.

Herbed and Spiced Cream Cheese Spread – Celery, Cumin and Chilli Flakes

(Makes one large cup)

1 litre milk

1 teaspoon lemon juice / vinegar

3 tablespoons fresh celery leaves chopped fine, reserve some for garnish

1 stalk celery chopped fine

1 teaspoon red chilly flakes

1/2 teaspoon cumin, lightly crushed

1 pod of garlic, peeled

In a large saucepan, bring the milk to a boil, add the celery leaves and stalk, cumin. Reduce the heat and add the lemon juice/ vinegar and simmer for a few minutes till the milk curdles and the whey seperates.

After about 15 minutes, keep a vessel underneath a cloth lined sieve and drain out the whey water from the curds. the whey water is high in nutrients and can be used to thin out gravies/ soups/ dal etc or to knead dough for rotis. You can keep this in the fridge for a few hours till all the water is drained out.

when all the water has drained out, add the garlic pod and the ricotta to a blender and whizz till smooth and creamy.  Add a few teaspoons of the whey if needed to get a creamy consistency. Remove into a bowl, add the reserved celery leaves and red chilly flakes and salt to taste and mix thoroughly. Chill till needed.

This stays in the fridge for a couple of days if stored in an airtight container. Serve with crackers/ breadsticks or vegetable crudites. Use as a sandwich spread.

Storing Fresh Herbs

I always go overboard at grocery stores when i see exotic herbs and buy bags/ bunches of them. the herbs sit in the fridge for longer than they need to and then get  trashed because they have gone bad or wilted or blackened. This time i chopped up all the celery stalks and put the chopped pieces into an ice cube tray. Filled it with water and froze it. Removed the celery ice cubes and stored them in a ziplock bag for later use. this way the herbs retain their colour and flavour. I plan to do this with all the herbs i now buy.

Recipe for Moroccan Vegetable Stew with Brown Rice

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*getting a decent photograph at night is like trying to go hiking in high heels

There are some days when a single sentence spoken between two people is the basis of a whole story….or you put together a whole look based on what bag you want to carry…… this meal too came about like that! I had a jar of brown rice sitting in my pantry for more than 8 months. My last 2 attempts at making it were disastrous cos I didnt seem to be cooking it enough. The rice always ended up being so nutty it may as well have remained uncooked and I could forget about K even considering it was edible! A twitter interaction led to a few links and I realised the whole world was recommending cooking brown rice in the electric rice cooker (i wonder why i didnt think of that myself!) Since I am looking at ways to use stuff I have been hoarding, I put the rice into the cooker, put the required amount of water and said a small prayer it wouldn’t be a criminal waste of resources! the rice cooked beautifully and I was very happy I’d finally figured how to do this. Then came about the task of building a meal around this rice. I didnt want to use it in a salad and I was sure I wanted something like a stew which would lend flavour to the rice and help sop it up.

After a couple of internet searches, I decided to make my version of a vegetarian Moroccanish Stew Minus the chickpeas which i didnt have handy as this was a spur of the moment thing. I liked that it was a tomato gravy and that i could add any vegetables of choice…. the whole meal looked so elegant, that when i clicked a picture and sent it to my friend B, she said it looked tempting enough to drive over and share our dinner. It was an evening well spent. ingredients well used, and  overall one of the most satisfying meals i have put together, not to mention simple too.

Moroccan – ish Vegetable Stew with Brown Rice (serves 2)

For the Stew:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, sliced

4-6 cloves garlic, crushed

3 large tomatoes, choped roughly and whizzed in the blender for 2 seconds till pulpy)

3 cups of assorted vegetables ( i used sliced zucchini, broccoli florets, 3 peeled baby potatoes, red and yellow peppers, 10 button mushrooms halved)

1 cup or more hot water

parboil the potatoes for 5-6 minutes till tender but not fully cooked

50 gms of cottage cheese

8-10 green olives, sliced

Spice mix

Mix together 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder, 1 teaspoon of cumin powder, 1 teaspoon of red chilli powder (adjust according to your taste), 1/2 teaspoon of sugar

salt to taste

freshly ground pepper to taste

In a flat bottomed pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. cut the cottage cheese into strips and fry till just turning golden brown on both sides. Take out onto a plate and reserve and try your best not to snack on them till the stew is made.

add the remainder of the oil into the same pan, add the onions and garlic and fry till they are aromatic and the onions are turning soft. Add the spice mix and cook till the raw smell of the spices disappears. Now add the tomatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes till it is simmering.  Add the vegetables and stir gently, add salt to taste, cover and cook for about 5-6 minutes, till the vegetables are tender but not overcooked.  Add the olives and the strips of browned cottage cheese and gently spoon over some liquid.  bring to a boil and turn off the heat. Keep covered for 4-5 minutes. Add a little of the hot water if you need to thin out the gravy. top with freshly ground pepper. Serve hot with brown rice, broken wheat or couscous.

Brown Rice (serves 2)

Equipment needed: Electric rice cooker

proportion of rice and water is 1:4

Wash 1 cup brown rice in water a couple of times. put it into the cooking vessel of the rice cooker. Add 4 measures of water with the same cup that you measured the rice with. Place the cooker on rice cooking function and wait for about 30-40 minutes depending on the function and make of your cooker. As soon as the rice is fully cooked and tender, the cooker will get into the keep warm mode.

other methods of cooking brown rice include pressure cooking it and the stove top method. I haven’t found much success with these two methods.

Herbed and Spiced Home Made Paneer & 200th post!! Step by Step Pictures

Hallo folks and hope that the coming weekend will be full of whatever you planned it would be full of…I’ve had a lovely, busy, fun and friend filled week. getting onto the recipe , which is actually not much of a recipe but homemade paneer flavoured with chilli flakes and fresh coriander.

A few days after returning from ahmedabad i needed to use up the milk that was lying frozen in my freezer….the milk delivery guy couldn’t remember to suspend our service for a few days, and since the plants i have need to be watered, my maid has the house keys. So she stacked the unused packets up into the freezer…so that was 12 litres of frozen milk by the time i came back!!

What followed was lassi, custard, china grass and more milk based desserts and just as i was getting tired of the sugar overload, i thought, well why not spiced or flavoured paneer…i remember my namesake had made this eons ago and i had bookmarked it, but as always didnt try it out!! here was my chance. i didnt quite remember how she made it, nor did i bother to turn on the laptop and search for it cos by that time, i’d have overboiled or burnt the milk anyways…so i went ahead with what i thought would work!!

i also managed a few step by step… so here it is

boil 1/2 litre of  milk on a medium flame, when it begins to rise up, turn on the lowest heat possible and add 3 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh coriander leaves and 1/2 tablespoon of red chilly flakes and stir for 30 seconds

now add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to the milk and stir till it begins to curdle, it will take a few seconds for the curdling to begin, keep stirring it till you can see the whey separated from the milk solids.

turn the heat off and leave it to cool a bit. About 15 minutes.

place a wide strainer on a wide mouthed vessel and place a cheesecloth or any clean absorbent thin cotton material on the strainer. Pour the milk mixture into the cloth – strainer set up and leave it for 15 minutes.

Gather up the ends of the cloth and tie it up like a package and hang it somewhere with a vessel underneath to catch the drippings. I took my namesake’s idea and tied it to the pipe of the tap in the sink so the liquid would drain out into the sink. after 30 mins and most of the liquid has drained out, place it on a flat surface with a heavy weight on top. I used my stone mortar to do this, but a heavy vessel filled with water will also work well. Remove the paneer from the cloth, cut into chunks and eat as it is, with crackers or in a salad.

I couldn’t finish all of it at one go (since K hates paneer) and so a few days later, i lightly toasted the chunks on a nonstick pan with a few drops of oil and a crackle of pepper and a dash of salt… yumm!

Jhat phat fatafat – Paneer Makhni

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paneer-makhni-and-trikoni-parathe.jpg

A cousin of my mother’s and her daughter paid us a visit a few days ago….they were meeting after 37 years …so this is the first time I met this cousin of mine….she’s a doctor of the medical kind and we got along like a house on fire!!……..I am always thinking of ways in which to bring variety to our table especially when we have hard core carnivorous guests at home….. I like to serve them food which invariably leads them to remark quite surprisingly that they aren’t missing non vegetarian preparations (in my family and its huge extension….it is still a horror story that I have given up a certain food group…so I quite enjoy this secret game of mine)….. So for lunch I turned to Tarla dalal’s Quick Cooking…..it was bought on a fancy for the title…and though it has a pretty good mix of indian and western dishes from soups and salads to main course and desserts….I have made just one preparation from this book thus far….. I chose Makhni gravy, doubled all the ingredients and froze half of it……I didn’t realize that I would actually use it so soon after I had made it to whip up dinner in a jiffy…… this evening, K returned from work famished as he’d skipped lunch (again!!) so I made him some trikoni parathas (his request) and he had it with the sabzi from lunch….not realizing that it constituted the sum total of dinner for us….

So out came the makhni gravy and some paneer that was also sitting pretty in the freezer…while the gravy went into a pan with ½ cup of water and was simmering, I nuked the paneer in the microwave for a minute on high, cut out a portion of it, made bite sized chunks to go into the gravy, returned the rest to its container and the freezer…..i was ready for dinner before amma could ask “so what shall we have with the parathas??” paneer makhni, salad and trikoni parathe for dinner….

Conclusion…..having the gravy on hand was such a convenience, plus the fact that it tasted great means that I am gonna make this (and freeze it) regularly now….

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