‘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.
When hubby N brought in a box of gajar halwa from the best sweets shop in the town – I was really excited! However, I was a bit taken aback when I opened the box – it was not red or anywhere near – but all nearly white with an overload of khoya/ mawa. Still, I put in a spoonful in my mouth and could not believe it qualified to be called ‘gajar’ ka halwa. There was ghee, khoya, sugar, cardamom and whole pieces of dryfruits. Looked like they did not even bother to grate the carrots – there were chunks which still had a bite to them. I don’t think I ate more than a spoon of this – what a huge disappointment. No wonder mom always believed in making her own soft and creamy version – even if it was five kilos for a birthday party. Nostalgic with memories of the entire house filled with the aroma of carrots cooking in bubbling milk with a hint of cardamom – I decided to make my own and could not help swelling in pride when hubby N and baby A kept asking for more.
Gajar ka Halwa in its glory!
Carrots – 1 kg, red thick ones
Ghee – 3 tbsp or more if you like
Milk – 2.5 cups or more if you like it creamier
Cardamom powder – 2 tsp
Sugar – 4 tbsp or more if you like things sweeter/ the carrots are not sweet
Dryfruits like cashews and almonds – a handful, chopped
Lets enjoy it together
1. Wash and peel the carrots. Grate them. I use my hand grater as I don’t deal with large quantities. It is done in 15 minutes. However, you can use the grating blade of your food processor.
2. Add 2 tbsp of ghee in a wide thick bottomed kadhai and put it on low-medium heat.
3. Add the grated carrots and cook, turning around every few minutes. We want the carrots to go soft and pale – that happens in 15 minutes.
4. Add the milk and let this cook on a low flame. Keep stirring at regular intervals.
5. Now, the liquid released by the carrots and milk will start to boil and evaporate. Once most of it is gone, add in the sugar and cardamom powder.
6. Let this cook till the carrots get glossy and all of the liquid evaporates. This will take nearly 30 more minutes.
7. Add the remaining 1 tbsp of ghee and mix.
8. Cool and store in the refrigerator.
9. When ready to serve, re-heat and add in chopped dry fruits for garnishing.
1. You can add as much of ghee, milk, sugar as you want – to make things richer and creamier. The amount of sugar I have added is very less, I like the taste of carrots to prevail.
2. It is a notion that this is a tiresome job, but it is not true. Once you are done with the grating, there is not much active cooking involved. Give it a shot!
I would call this one Kaju Katli FOR DUMMIES as this is so easy and simple, that even people like me (who run away at the mention of sugar syrup) cannot get this wrong. There is no ‘checking for any string consistency’ while preparing this, which gets you through half the battle. Rest of it is won when you taste these amazingly soft and sweet delights – wondering how can it be so easy to prepare something so nice! It is totally hassle free, needs no ghee and takes less than half an hour to make.
This recipe comes directly from ‘Saffrun Hut’, which I bumped into while food surfing and kept drooling over the wonderful pic there for a long time (prolly months) before I myself made it. Thanks so much saffron, for such a wonderful recipe and such a wonderful blog! Here is the original one.
Kaju Katli - kuch meetha ho jaaye!
1 cup of cashews
3/4 cup (or slightly less if you prefer) of sugar
1/4 cup of water
1. Finely grind the cashews to a powder. Don’t overdo it, as the cashews may leave their oil and you may end up getting a paste instead of powder. Even if you do, it does not affect the taste 🙂
2. Mix the sugar and water in a kadhai. Heat till small bubbles begin to appear on the surface.
3. Stir gently and let it come to a rolling boil. No need to check for string consistency etc of the syrup.
4. Pour in the cashew powder and stir well to avoid lumps. Keep stirring for a few minutes and you should notice the mixture getting a little thicker.
5. Put a little drop on a chilled plate and test to see if it hardens slightly. You should be able to roll it into a loose ball.
6. If it does, switch off the heat and move the pan away from the hot surface.
7. Let it cool slightly and dump out the contents onto a board or a clean countertop.
8. Knead well with your hands (much like you would knead roti dough) to make it smooth and glossy.
9. Roll out with a rolling pin into 1/4 inch thick sheet and cut into any shape you want. The standard is these diamonds.
10. Let cool/dry and pack in tins between sheets of waxed paper. Store at room temperature for a week or in the fridge for longer.