‘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 quick fix – when I am short on both, time and ingredients in the fridge. It goes well with parathas or pooris and when served, looks pretty decent (does not give away the fact that you made this as you had not much alternatives). I have got a pretty elaborate recipe of the “aaloo ka rassa” prepared at my home in Indore, which involves boiling potatoes separately and sautéing tomatoes for a long time. But this worked well for lazy Sunday lunches, when there was a lot of time on hands. In my version, everything goes from the blender- to the pressure cooker- to the plate.
I don’t know from where did I pick this up, prolly hubby N might have made this at some point of time. I think if I jot down all my recipes on this blog, I will have to have a category “coached by hubby N” and half of the dishes I cook would figure there!
Ready to be eaten with pooris or parathas
Potatoes – 3 medium (peeled, washed, cut into big chunks)
Green Peas – a fistful (fresh or frozen, optional)
Tomatoes – 3 medium or 2 big ( ripe, red ones)
Ginger – half an inch piece (washed, peeled)
Green chilies – 2 (stems removed)
Oil – 1 tbsp
Jeera, Rai, Ajwain – half tsp each
Haldi – half tsp
Garam masala/ Kitchen King masala – 1 tsp
Dhania powder – 1 tsp
Salt – as per taste
Sugar – a pinch or two
1. Cut the tomatoes into halves. Put them in a blender jar along with the ginger and green chilies. Blend it to a paste.
2. Take a dry clean pressure cooker. Put in the oil and heat it.
3. Once the oil is hot, add jeera, ajwain, rai and let them pop and sizzle for a few seconds. Add haldi.
4. Put the tomato paste from the blender jar and mix in the oil and spices. Let this cook till the rawness of tomatoes is gone and the deal starts to look shiny (the oil kinda oozes out). This took 10 minutes for me. You need to keep moving around the paste every few minutes, lest it sticks to the bottom of the pan.
5. Add the garam masala, salt, dhania powder and sugar. The sugar balances out the tartness of the tomatoes.
6. Now, add the potato chunks and peas (if using).
7. Add in water to make the deal watery. We need enough water as this will be cooked in pressure, but not so much as to make things runny. Use your experience and judgment.
8. Close the lid of the cooker and let this cook on a sim flame, upto two whistles. We don’t want the potatoes to turn into a mush.
9. Once the cooker cools down, open it and check the consistency. The tomatoes and potatoes should look like a single entity. If too watery, keep the cooker pan on a sim flame and let this cook in open.
10. Serve with parathas, pooris.
Send hubby N to shop for vegetables and he comes back with a bagful of brinjals – not that it is a problem, but it gets a bit overboard when he produces them out of the bag – I got the big round one for bharta, the long ones for aaloo-baingan and the small ones for bharwa baingan.Wow!
This means I cook baingan every alternate day of the week, the bharwa baingan being my favorite. It is the way my mom makes it – loaded with flavors and spices. I find making this pretty quick as I use the food processor, while mom uses the hand grater – making this a bit tedious. Whatever way you go, the result is always great.
Bharwa Baingan – mom’s style
Baingan / brinjals – 8- 10 (small round ones )
Onions – 2 big or 3 small
Besan – 1 tbsp
Jeera, til, saunf, kasuri methi, haldi, garam masala, dry coconut powder, peanut powder, dry coriander powder – 1 tsp each (skip whatever you don’t have)
Salt – as per taste
Green chili – 1 or red chili powder – 1 tsp
Oil – 3 tsp
1. Wash and pat dry the brinjals. Make cut marks on them (like a cross) using a knife, so that each one remains intact. Dunk them in water so that they don’t turn black while you are working on the stuffing.
2. Clean and cut up the onion in big chunks.
3. Add the spices, salt, green chili along with the onion chunks in a food processor and blend together.
4. Roast the besan with a drop of oil in a wok on a low flame, till it gets to a shade darker.
5. Add the besan to the blended stuffing/ masala.
6. Check the spice level of the masala and adjust based on your taste.
7. Carefully stuff each baingan with this masala. Since the stuffing is a bit runny due to the water onions release, this would ooze out of the baigans, which is fine.
8. Heat oil in a non stick pan / flat kadhai/ pan.
9. Once the oil is hot, reduce the heat and carefully place each baigan in the pan. Drop in the leftover masala (if you do have some).
10. Cover the lid and let this cook on a low flame.
11. After a good 7 to 8 minutes, turn the baingans very carefully, picking them from their stem. We are trying to get them cooked uniformly from all sides. Sprinkle some water if you think it is getting too dry to cook.
12. After another 7 to 8 minutes, this should be cooked. To check, insert the tip of a knife in a baingan. If it gets through easily, it’s done.
13. Serve with hot rotis/ chapattis as a side.
Since this recipe reminds me of my mom’s cooking and all the stuffed brinjal I used to stuff myself with whenever she made it, I am sending this to ‘walk thru the memory lane’ event hosted by Kalyani.
Linking this to Gayathri’s page too.