Garam Masala Tuesdays: Achaari Paner
My parents are here!
And that is why the absence from blogosphere.
And that is why I am posting GMT on a Wednesday, instead of the usual Tuesday.
Well, its the first time my parents are visiting me.
I was and am super excited about it!
They have been here in my house for only two days, and already the house is looking so much cleaner.
Now, before the parents’ visit, my kitchen was clean but thanks to my mom it is the kind of clean that you see on ads- where they show a spot and with one swipe the spot is gone and the area becomes sparkling white.
That’s how my kitchen looks now- sparkling white!
And, while my mom was busy keeping my kitchen clean, my dad cleaned my refrigerator- all the shelves were washed and all the stuff inside the refrigerator has been organized properly. (And, I thought I kept my house was clean- trust parents to burst that bubble!)
And if that wasn’t enough, my dad organized my pantry also! And that spot in the bathroom sink which I could never manage to remove- yup, that’s gone too.
Parents- I tell you- they are “clean-magicians”!
Besides the cleaning, I am also making the most of my mom’s knowledge and getting all the tips on how to buy vegetables, and of course, taking advantage of her culinary skills. I will be updating her butter chicken recipe as well (we had that for lunch today!).
Day before she made the most amazing torai sabzi and rajasthani dal. She also made V and my favorite dish- rajma chawal.
Yes, its food heaven these days in my household and V and I aren’t complaining!
I made it a point though, that the first meal they had in my house would be only my effort and had to literally restrain my mom from entering the kitchen. They are visiting me and I hate the fact that they are working- but then, parents just don’t listen, do they!
So, after multiple Nos to my mom’s ‘Let me help you’, I made achaari paneer, chicken gilafi kebabs, paranthas and cucumber-mint raita as part of their first meal in our house. I also made them taste my bhindi (okra vegetable) and garlic naans the next day.
Today, for GMT, I will be sharing the recipe for Achaari Paneer.
Achaar is the Indian name for pickle. Something with achaari prefixed, means that the dish is made from similar spices used while pickling. So, you have aniseeds, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, besides other spices featuring in stuff that is “achaari”.
My friend M’s mom used to make achaari paneer when we were in college. This is not the same recipe and of course her version is just absolutely delicious. This recipe is great too and it is a no-frills one. It’s easy to make and even though the recipe doesn’t call for too much oil/ghee, the flavors are great. A recipe that is definitely a keeper.
P.S: Hope everyone had a Happy Eid and a great Ganesh Chaturthi
ACHAARI PANEER or PANEER IN PICKLING SPICES
Paneer is Indian cottage cheese and is usually available in Asian stores in the freezer section. You can make homemade paneer as well and should be able to find a good recipe online. (I am yet to try making paneer at home). V used to substitute Tofu for paneer when he was a bachelor and says it used to taste great! Queso Blanco/Queso Fresco is also a good substitute for Indian cottage cheese. I use Nanak’s paneer and like the results with that.
Don’t get scared by the length of the ingredients called for. The directions are pretty simple.
Adapted from India: The Cookbook (this is the ultimate book on Indian food- a must-have according to me!)
Once the dish was done, I heated about a few tbsp mustard oil to smoking hot and added to the cooked paneer, immediately covering it and leaving covered for a few minutes. There was still some mustard oil left in the pan, so I heated it again and added some red chilli powder and after sautering the powder for a few seconds added it to the dish. The smoking hot mustard oil gives the whole dish an authentic pickle taste and the added heat is always welcome in an Indian household.
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 350 gm Paneer
- 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 1/2 tsp aniseeds
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp kalonji (nigella) seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 3 onions, finely chopped
- 6-8 green chillies, finely chopped (the recipe calls for deseeding- but I did not)
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 cup natural yogurt, whisked
- 1 1/2 tsp amchoor (amchoor is a powder made from dried unripe green mangoes and can be found in Asian stores)
- 3/4 tsp garam masala
- 2 large green bell peppers, cut into bite-sized pieces
- Salt, to taste
- 2-3 green chillies, slit in half lenthwise (and de-seeded), to garnish
- Mix 2 tbsp water with half the turmeric and chilli powder.
- Cut the paneer into 2 inch cubes and with a sharp knife score them all over lightly. Pour the turmeric mixture on top and mix gently to coat the pieces all over. Season and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a heavy based pan over medium heat. Add the whole spices and stir-fry for 1 minute, or until they start to splutter.
- Add the onions and chillies and cook for about 5 minutes. Onions would turn light brown.
- Add the ginger and garlic pastes and the remaining turmeric and stir-fry for about 1 minute.
- Add in the yoghurt, and still stirring, mix in the amchoor and garam masala. Season with salt.
- Reduce heat to low and cook for 2 minutes, reducing the moisture a little, but it should still be liquidy.
- Add the marinated paneer and the bell peppers. Cook for another 3 minutes. Serve hot, garnished with the green chillies.