Quick Kadai Paneer

It is back to school season. That means weeknights are busy with early dinner and early bed times. Unlike summers, I like to be done with dinners as quickly as possible and get the kids ready to bed.

Quick and healthy dinner choices need not be a challenge with some simple readily available ingredients from your pantry.

Here is one such simple dish. Can be easily served with hot rice or some ready rotis or phulkas.


Ingredients:

1 small block of paneer- cut into small cubes

1 capsicum- cut into small cubes

3/4 white onion- finely chopped

2 plum tomatoes- finely chopped

Spices:

1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

2 tsp Ginger and garlic paste

2 tsp of coriander powder

2 tsp cumin powder

1tsp garam masala

Salt as per taste.

Preparation

In a hard bottom Kadai pour 2 tablespoon of oil

Once the oil is hot, put the finely chopped onions and fry them until golden brown.

Next add tomatoes and and fry them until they are soft and get mixed with the onions and form a nice smooth paste. Cover the kadai with a lid and leave the flame on medium for about 5 minutes.

Now you can see the oil separating from the tomato-onion mixture.

Now it’s time to add the salt and Ginger garlic paste and fry for few more minutes until the raw smell of the Ginger garlic fades away.

Now add the capsicum and stir it with the mixture. Cover the lid and let the capsicum get tender, but not too soft.

Once the capsicum is done , add all the masalas (spices) together and mix well. Add quarter cup of wate,check for salt and let the mixture come to a boil. Once the gravy starts to boil add the paneer cubes and give a good stir.

Turn the flame to low and cover the lid and let the paneer soak in all the spices and flavor from the gravy.

Turn off the flame. Garnish with fresh cilantro, maybe a drizzle of cream and a sprinkle of kasoori methi for additional flavor.

Additional notes:

Before using, leave the paneer cubes in warm water for about a minute to make it soft and spongy

Kasoori methi is dried fenugreek available easily in the market. Just crush it with your palms and sprinkle on the dish for the extra flavor


Minty Aloo Tikkis (Potato cutlets)

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At a time of crisis, Like a good friend, A potato is there. Always there. Anytime everytime.

Those brown muddy spuds are lifesavers for me . I feel desolated without their presence  in my kitchen.

And all that thoughts and talks about starch and carbs does not matter, when you are hungry and every member of your family is restless and asking for something to “EAT RIGHT NOW” !!!!

I cannot tell you how grateful I am for those potatoes that saved my evening the day before. It was seemingly a long day. The heavy rains would not stop. They started the moment I opened my eyes  in the morning  and persisted the entire day.

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The rains would not stop, but the rains would not stop our day either. Life has to go on.

Wake up time, brush, breakfast, backpack, lunchbag,off to school, with an umbrella- That was my 5 year old.

wakeup time, breakfast, bath , off to work- that was my hubby.

Wakeup time and hang around with me , on me, all over me, make a mess of the house and bring the whole house upside down, no nap, just play, play with kitchen utensils, play with gadgets, play with dangerous objects, making my heart skip a beat and almost making me collapse by noon- That is my 18 month old.

So I take a deep breath and look at the clock, and it  is already time for my kindergartener to come back from school. I am startled but  gather myself up, with my 18 month old still lurking by my side, grab my coat,slide into my shoes when I suddenly heard a knock on the door.

It was my hubby !!! “Oh thank god you are here. Ok here is Sahana.  I am leaving. I have to take Mahati to the piano class”. I dashed out of the door.

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The rain did not cease. I picked my daughter from the bus stop, drove her straight to the piano class, which lasts for about two hours.

By the time we came back home by  evening, every single person in the house is STARVING. Remember, I did not feed my hubby when he came home?

So now it calls for quick action. I peered inside the fridge and what did I see? Some boiled and mashed potatoes from last night. Problem solved!

I decided to make tikkis. Darn that rain and darn those cravings for spicy tangy chaat. When I announced what I was making , my husband raised his eyebrows and sat up straight on the couch almost ready to eat. My daughter said  “yaaay, but Amma this time can you make it Yummier?”

I rolled my eyes, but smiled and promplty said “I will try” 🙂

Thus, these tikkis, which I very quicky put together for our evening chaat. Then there was dinner time. But that is another story :).

Minty Aloo Tikkis:

2 potatoes boiled peeled and mashed without lumps.( any kind. I used 2 big russet potatoes)

3 slices of bread (i used just white bread from pepperidge farm)

1/2 a cup of mint finely chopped

Oil for deep frying

Seasonings:

1tsp Jeera, 1 tsp Chaat masala, 2 tbsp lemon juice, salt, 1 tsp red chilli powder, 1 tsp garam masala, 2 cloves of garlic-grated, 1 green chilli finely minced.

Method:

In a wide bowl, combine mashed potatoes, mint, salt and all the  seasonings.

Take the bread slices,  dunk them in luke warm water. squeeze out all the water and throw them in the bowl with potatoes.

oil your palms and start kneading the potato bread mixture. After kneading for a few minutes, the whole mixture comes together like a nice firm dough.

Next divide the dough into equal portions. Roll them into a ball and pat them flat on your palms.

Frying:

I chose to deep fry them because they will cook evenly inside out. Alternative is to shallow fry them on  a griddle.

( if the dough gets too sticky or has some water content , then sprinkle some all purpose flour(maida) to the mix)

Methi Thepla

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Methi or Fenugreek is often considered as a superfood in India. It is believed to have cooling properties. It is very therapeutic. Breastfeeding moms are often seen consuming fenugreek seeds in quite high amounts, as it is believed to increase milk supply. I have tried it too , and I must say it works!

Because of its cooling properties fenugreek powder is added in spicy pickles  to compensate all that heat from the chilli powder. I remember my grandmother using fenugreek to help her digestion. Just before bedtime she used to make herself a glass of cold buttermilk with little salt and  adding some freshly powdered fenugreek seeds.

I just so love methi too. It is so fragrant and therapeutic. Be it the seeds or the leaves, I love to use them quite often. The leaves are very tender and fragrant and hardly bitter . The seeds carry a nutty and  quite bitter taste but the bitterness subdues when we dry roast them . And that aroma!!! ….

I always wish that methi was available in American supermarkets. Unfortunately it is not and I always have to visit the Indian store to grab a bunch or two and always will have to make a choice of what to make out of Methi. Those are hard choices to make, as anything made out of Methi  leaves is absolutely delicious.

There is a whole array of dishes both South and North Indian that uses fresh Methi leaves in its cooking. Parathas, rotis, gravies,curries, fritters, dals you name it!

This time I chose to make Theplas out of Methi. Theplas are similar to rotis or parathas. They have all spices incorporated in them and typically needs no side dish to go with it. They can be enjoyed as a snack, brunch, lunch or dinner. Kids Love them too. Just pay attention to the spice levels when making for kids. It makes a great lunch box recipe too.

The process is quite simple and here is how to make theplas out of these ever green Methi:

What we need:

2 cups of whole wheat flour

2 tbsp gram/chickpea flour

1 cup of finely chopped fresh methi leaves

2 green chillies

1 tsp cumin/coriander powder( optional)

1tsp turmeric

salt

Method:

Combine all ingredients together.

With little sprinkles of water, knead into a soft dough.

Divide into equal sized balls

roll them into round rotis

On a hot griddle roast them by sprinkles of oil.

Serve warm or not so warm with yogurt.