‘What’s with you and paneer?’ My mom often asks me this question. Back in Indore, we never cooked paneer at home and it was delicacy reserved only for wedding receptions. Cut to Delhi, Mother Dairy paneer is a permanent resident of my refrigerator and paneer is my potato – made frequently and effortlessly. Why? Being a vegetarian in the north, where it is summer time most of the time, “green leafy vegetables” being scarce, make you look upto paneer, rajma and chana as sources of nutrition. Plus, the restaurants out here will punish you for being a vegetarian by feeding you dishes with different names (suffixed or prefixed with paneer for sure), different color (white, red or yellow) – but taste the same. A few restaurants later, you get the hang of what goes into a respectable paneer dish slowly and you end up befriending the white delight.
This bhurji is the easiest and quickest thing I prepare with paneer. It does not call for any gravy to be prepared, and serves well as a dry side to roti and daal in a weekday dinner. Pretty forgiving recipe – I followed hubby N’s instructions for the first time I prepared it, but have gone the ‘throw in a pinch of this and a dash of that’ way – giving good results every time.
paneer – 200 gms crumbled by hand
onions – 1 large or 2 small, chopped roughly
tomatoes – 1 large or 2 small, chopped roughly
capsicum/ shimla mirch/ bell peppers – 2, chopped to tiny pieces (optional)
green chilies – 2, slit lengthwise and cut to halves
jeera/ cumin – 1 tsp
ajwain/ carom seeds – 1 tsp
haldi/ turmeric powder – 1 tsp
red chilli powder – half tsp
salt – as per taste
garam masala/ kitchen king masala – 1 tsp
oil – 2 tspn
milk – half cup (optional)
1. Heat oil in a kadhai/ wok (I use Prestige non stick frying pan).
2. When hot, add jeera + ajwain, let it sizzle and crackle for a minute. Add the chopped green chilies.
3. Add onion, cook till soft and light brown. We don’t want golden/ dark brown.
4. Add tomato and capsicum pieces. At the same time, add salt, haldi.
5. Let this cook till capsicum and tomatoes are cooked, till the masala starts to dry up and oozes oil. This should take 7-8 minutes.
6. Reduce the flame to sim (if not sim already) and add crumbled paneer. Sprinkle the red chili powder and garam masala. Mix everything. Make sure you do not cook for than 2 minutes after adding the paneer, it is being cooked directly, and not in a gravy. You may get unpredictable results.
7. Now, if you think this is too dry and you like your sabji to be moist, do not throw in water. Instead, add half a cup of milk – it will be incorporated in the paneer and will make it both soft and moist.
8.Sprinkle chopped coriander leaves if available. Serve as a side with rotis.
Sprouts have all you would like to hear about a munching snack – can be eaten raw, no oil, healthy, fiber rich, protein packed. Here is how you make them at home, instead of buying them from the vegetable vendor.
1. Take any pulses/ legumes which are whole and can be germinated – green whole moong/ moth/ black masoor/ rajma/ kala chana/ white, kabuli chana. The most common ones sprouted are green whole moong and moth.
2. Take a wide pan and soak the pulses in enough water (the seeds will swell when germinated). In the summer time, cover this with a jaali/ roli/ plate with holes. In winters, cover with a plate and keep the assembly on the fridge top, so that there is enough heat for the germination process. Keep this overnight/ 8 – 10 hours.
3. In the morning, take out the sprouts from the water and wash them twice in fresh water. Wash the pan in which these were soaked too, we want to re-use the pan.
4. Take a clean, thin, cotton cloth – large enough to hold the sprouts. Line the pan with the cloth and put back the sprouts in the pan. Gather the ends of the cloth so as to form a loose bundle of sprouts kept in the pan.
5. The cloth will be wet as the sprouts are wet. Still, sprinkle some more water on the cloth so that it is uniformly wet. Cover this with a jaali/ roli/ plate with holes. If you use a plate, the sprouts will go bad, while you want them to breathe and germinate further. Keep this for 8 to 10 hours.
6. When you open the pan now, you should expect the cloth gone dry and warm to touch. The sprouts have generated the heat while growing. The seeds would have been germinated totally, with some of them growing right through the cloth. Remove the sprouts from the cloth and keep them in open for half an hour. I usually don’t wash them, but if you find these a bit smelly, wash them.
7. Now comes a painful step which most people skip, but I don’t like my sprouts-eating fun spoiled by a “kattt” in my teeth. It totally turns me off. Yeah I am talking about some of the headstrong seeds that refuse to germinate and remain hard even after this ordeal. So, I pick them. How? Take a flat, big steel plate. Throw in (gently) a handful of sprouts on it. If you hear a ‘tak’ sound (the seed which has not germinated will make it), and the seed will also roll out to a side of the plate. Pick these out – they are spoilsports. This takes time and patience – and sharp senses too. 🙂 Too much? Skip the step!
8. Eat them, or refrigerate in an air tight box for further use.
I have already talked about our hungry stomachs growling@ 6:30PM here. Now, hubby N always looks for some sprouts in the fridge, before giving me a disappointed look and restoring to Haldiram bhujia. I dont look for them as I know that as always – I have forgotten making them. Yes I know they are healthy, protein rich, got fiber! But making them is not as easy as hubby N makes it sound – throw-some-in-water-tonight. Ok, not tough maybe, but time consuming for sure. Specially in Delhi, where it’s summer always and if you don’t give your sprouts TLC, you will end up with sticky and smelly germinated seeds, ready to be planted in your kitchen garden.
Here is how I make sprouts. And below is how I make an usal out of them – either green moong or the smaller brownish variety – ‘moth’. Though best eaten raw, sprouts can make a quick and yummy breakfast or even a side to a meal when cooked up as an usal.
moth sprouts usal
sprouts (green moong or moth) – 2 cups
green chili – 1 (cut to small pieces)
grated ginger – 1 tspn
oil – 2 tspns
jeera/cumin – 1 tspn
ajwain/ carom seeds – 1 tspn
heeng/ asfotedia – 1 pinch
haldi/ turmeric powder – 1 tspn
salt – as per taste
garam masala/ kitchen king masala – 1 tspn
lemon juice of 1 lemon
1. In a wok/kadhai/ non-stick pan, heat oil.
2. Add the jeera and ajwain in hot oil and let it sizzle for a minute. followed by haldi and heeng.
3. Add the green chili pieces and grated ginger and sauté for 10 seconds.
4. Add the sprouts, sprinkle some water. If you don’t add water, the sprouts will tend to get hard.
5. Cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes.
6. Remove the cover, mix in salt, garam masala and lemon juice.
7. Serve hot with an optional garnishing of coriander leaves and grated ginger.