‘Chaman’ is a term we used in my hometown Indore to refer to a weirdo! It always brings a smile on my face when I hear someone being called a chaman! However – while eating out in the north, I realized chaman does not refer to someone, but to something – something that has methi in it. Though I am very conservative at what I eat at restaurants, usually I don’t go out of my comfort zone, but I do make sure I read the entire vegetarian menu – they have the name of the dish and a little description that follows. Something like – ‘Paneer Methi Chaman – A mildly spicy gravy full of soft paneer flavored with methi.’ I am not sure if they hire people specifically for writing these, because if they do, I am a candidate. I say this more as I can also boast of being a compulsive flyer/ pamphlet reader – the ones that come with my daily newspaper – ‘free home delivery’ outlets – most of them have at least two chaman dishes on them.
My curiosity made me order it in my last dinner out and it turned out pretty good – the methi took the regular paneer dish to a new level, though all attempts were made to sideline it with addition of cream and even khoya/ mawa. Maybe they want only the color of the methi, and not the taste. I tried to recreate it at home, minus the cream/khoya/mawa and let methi prevail. It was awesome! Confirmed that ‘chaman’ is meant to bring a smile to the face – be it a person or a dish!
Paneer Methi Chaman – Restaurant Style
Fresh, green methi/ fenugreek leaves – cleaned, washed and chopped fine – 1 cup
Ginger – 1 inch piece, cleaned and chopped.
Onions – 2 large – cut into chunks
Tomatoes – 2 medium – cut to chunks
Paneer cubes – 1.5 cup or a 200 gm block cut into pieces
Kaju/ Cashews – 3 , broken to pieces
Salt – as per taste
Haldi/ Turmeric- 1 tsp
Jeera/ Cumin – half tsp
Red chili powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – 2 tsp
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Garam Masala/ Kitchen king masala – 1 tsp
Oil – 3 tsp
1. Heat oil in a kadhai/ wok.
2. When oil is hot, add jeera, let it crackle. Add onion pieces. The onions should get pale and soft and start browning at the sides. At this point, go to step 3.
3. Add ginger, tomatoes and cashews. Also add haldi and salt. Sauté till tomatoes are soft and pulpy. This takes around 10 -12 minutes.
4. While the tomatoes are cooking, blanch the chopped methi leaves – put them in a cup of water and let it boil on a sim flame for 10 minutes. Cover with a lid once done.
5. Once the onion and tomatoes are cooked, switch off the gas and let it cool.
6. Once cool, put the stuff in a blender. Add a little water (I used the water I boiled the methi in) and blend to a smooth paste. The cashews will give the paste a rich and smooth texture.
7. Put the blended paste in the same wok and put it on flame again. Keep sautéing – add rest of the spices – red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder too. Keep doing this for 5 to 7 minutes, till the deal is bright and oozing oil.
8. Add the paneer cubes. Strain out the boiled methi leaves from the water and add them here. Also add some water (the same water in which you boiled the methi).
9. Mix all of it and let it come to a boil – 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the spices, salt.
10. Serve hot with rotis.
This is a veggie I saw for the first time at my in-laws place. This is a nice variation to the normal ‘cut vegetables’ routine – it uses grated mooli, and prolly that is the reason it takes very less time to cook. The sweetness of peas complements the radish taste pretty well and this is a great weekngiht dinner candidate.
3 radish / moolis – washed, peeled and grated (do not remove the water that oozes out. We want the mooli to cook in its own flavors)
radish greens / mooli ke patte – washed and chopped fine (optional)
half cup shelled peas
1 green chilli, half inch piece of ginger – chopped coarsly
Salt as per taste, garam masala – optional
1 tspn jeera, 1 tspn ajwain, half tspn turmeric
2 tspn oil
Mooli Matar ki Sabji
1. Heat oil in a kadhai/frying pan.
2. Once hot, add jeera, ajwain, turmeric.
3. Add the chopped chilli and ginger and let it sizzle for a minute.
4. Add the grated mooli, chopped greens (if using), mix and cook, covered.
5. After nearly 7 to 8 minutes, when you feel the mooli is semi-cooked, add the peas and salt. Cover again till cooked.
6. Add garam masala and mix. Garnish with cilantro, serve with daal and roti.
Delhi winters make it to the news every year – we have already been through the coldest day in the last 44 years and not sure how many more records are going to break. The chill factors keeps on getting worse by the day and it is a pain to get out of the quilt and perform mundane day to day tasks. Imagine the torture involved in reporting to work in mornings and going back home in windy evenings. Even if there is a ray of sunlight penetrating through the dense fog during the afternoon – I am not aware of it. One blessing that makes me bicker less about the winters is the availability of vegetables- it’s a total wow! when you reach the vegetable market – and I feel like jumping right into the heap(s) of fresh green peas, like Uncle Scrooge in Duck Tales. The cost of vegetables keep going down with the temperature and I wish I could hoard them for the entire year! Since I cannot do that , I at least make sure we consume as much as green peas as we can during this time and most of my cooking revolves around matar and methi. One of the favorites is matar paneer – pretty uncomplicated, yet yummy. I make it pretty mild – and let the sweetness of green peas and creaminess of paneer prevail.
Creamy Matar Paneer
Paneer – cubed, 1 cup
Peas/ Matar – shelled, 1.5 cups
Tomatoes – 3 small or 2 big
Ginger – 1 inch piece, peeled
Cream – 0.5 cup or milk – 1 cup
Kasoori methi – 1tsp (optional)
Jeera – 0.5 tsp
Haldi – 0.5 tsp
Red Chili Powder – 1 tsp
Salt as per taste
Sugar – 2 pinches (optional)
Garam masala/ Kitchen King Masala/ Chole Masala – 1 tsp
Oil – 1 tbsp
1. Put the shelled peas in a bowl, fill it with water and keep it on a low flame on the gas. We want to boil the peas till they get tender. This takes 10-15 minutes on the gas stove.
2. On another burner, keep a thick bottomed wok/ kadhai on a low flame and heat oil.
3. In a blender, blend together the tomatoes and ginger to a paste.
4. Once the oil is hot, add the jeera and let it splutter for a few seconds. Add the haldi too.
5. Pour the tomato paste from the blender jar into the wok and let it cook. Remember to keep the flame low , else it will splash around and may hurt you.
6. As the tomatoes cook, they will start to reduce in volume in ooze out oil. Add the kasuri methi, salt, red chili powder and chole masala (if using) now.
7. Once the tomato paste looks all done – (nearly 20 minutes required here), add in the boiled peas and paneer cubes and fold them gently into the paste.
8. After two minutes ,add the cream or milk, mix it gently and add the pinch of sugar and garam masala (if using).
9. Let this entire thing simmer for 2 minutes and you are done.
10. Serve hot with rotis.