Easy Food Smith

Posts Tagged / Punjabi cuisine

LEHSUNI PANEER / लहसुनी पनीर (Garlicky Cottage Cheese Curry) – GF

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Paneer is to vegetarians what eggs are to non vegetarians – a quick, easy, simple ingredient that can be turned into so many variety of dishes. In north India, if you are expecting a vegetarian at your house for a meal, paneer will invariably find its way to the menu (even more so, if it happens to be a Punjabi household). Paneer is a vegetarian delicacy of sorts. And its versatility makes it an easy ingredient to work with. You can turn it into tikka or bhurjee or kofta curry and even a cheesecake – it will never fail you. Use it with some spices and herbs to make filling for your jaffles or stuffed flatbread and there you have an excellent breakfast dish to be polished off with pickle and chai! You can find a post I had done during my initial blogging years on how to make paneer at home. The process is simple and you can use it for so many recipes or have it on its own with some sprinkle of chaat masala.

This recipe may seem to be using a lot of garlic but when it pairs with other ingredients, it mellow downs (you’ve got to trust me on that). The key here is not to compromise on the usage of tomatoes. I usually chop the tomatoes and blitz them in a grinder. For this recipe, I could obtain about one third cup tomato puree (without adding water) from one medium sized tomato. Also, do not hold yourself back from using milk. It helps bring a balance to the sourness of tomatoes, tones down the garlic and mellows the heat of chillies. This curry gets ready in under 15 minutes, what more can you ask for 😀

2 – 3 tbsp Oil

½ tsp Cumin Seeds

½ tsp Mustard Seeds

2 small Onions (thickly sliced)

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4 fat cloves Garlic (grated) {approximately 1 tbsp}

1 medium Tomato

1/3 C Milk

300 grams Paneer, (cubed)

½ tsp Turmeric Powder

½ – ¾ tsp Chili Powder (adjust to taste)

2 tsp Coriander Powder

½ tsp Garam Masala

Salt to taste

2 whole Green Chilies

Fresh Coriander to garnish

This curry takes no time to cook. So be ready with all ingredients.

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Wash, chop and blitz the tomato in a grinder. You should have at least 1/3 cup or more of tomato puree. Keep aside.

Heat oil in a pan and add cumin and mustard seeds. As soon as they begin to crackle, add onions and fry them on medium heat till they turn translucent and just begin to turn golden.

Now add grated garlic and fry till the garlic changes color to golden and becomes aromatic. Add the tomatoes and along with the spices and salt.

Keep stirring the contents on medium heat till the masala begins to leave oil on the sides. Now add milk and lower the heat.

Split chilies in 3 or 4 pieces and throw them in the curry. Add the paneer and stir it in. Add more milk if required at this stage. (I do not like my curry loose and rather prefer the masala coating the paneer pieces well. Suit youself)

Cook for a minute and the curry is ready. (you do not need to cook the paneer much else it will turn rubbery)

Stir in some freshly coriander to the curry and garnish the rest before serving. Remove the contents in a serving bowl and serve with roti, paratha or naan. YUM!

Note: I have added split whole green chilies coz I just wanted some grassy flavors of the chili added to the curry. Feel free to add them chopped in case you wish to add some more heat to the curry.

Note: Also, you can tinker with the amount of ingredients you wish to use.

Serves 4 (as side dish)

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Thanks for visiting and see you soon again with another exciting recipe!

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GUR KA PARANTHA / गुड़ का परांठा (Jaggery Flatbread)

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HAPPY MAKAR SANKRANTI EVERYONE

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“Let food be your medicine” is an excellent piece of advice, one that we all should abide by. Winters truly are the times for indulgence and when one is able to indulge in foods that not just please your taste buds but also do you good by protecting you against cold, cough and flu, you know you are in a win win situation. Gur ka parantha is one of those dishes. I was introduced to gur ka parantha by my late Nani (maternal grandmother). As kids we used to religiously visit her during every summer vacation but as we grew older, the pressures of high school and college ensured that we spent lesser and lesser time with her. So once during my college winter break I decided to visit her for a short time. She always had this thing in her mind whenever any of her grand kids visited her, that they should not fall sick or injure themselves while on their holiday with her. She would always feel that we kids should go back to our homes safe and sound, just as we had arrived. And it so happened that I managed to catch a nasty cold on that visit to her. She was all worked up and instead of taking me to the doctor, made gur ka parantha for me. She fed me with the parantha twice that day. The gur was so helpful in arresting the cold that the next day I had no runny or stuffy nose. I was amazed at the healing quality of gur. She had simply used the grated jaggery for using as a filling for the flatbread. I have tried to amp the health value and enhance the taste of her recipe by adding spices and nuts to it. You can swap nuts with sesame seeds if you are allergic to nuts.

Gur is made and used extensively across north India during winter season. Swap it with sugar in your Kheer or Cake or Chutney. I developed taste of jaggery pretty late in life but once I did, there has been no looking back.

For Dough

1½ C Aata (Whole Meal/ Wheat Flour) plus extra for rolling

1 tsp Turmeric Powder

1 tsp Ghee or Oil

½ C plus a few tbsp Water

For Filling

½ C grated Gur (Jaggery)

½ C Shredded Dry Coconut (Khopa)

1/3 C slivered Almonds (or you can crush the almonds and use them)

1 tsp Cardamom Powder

2 tsp Fennel Seeds

2 tbsp Chhuhara / Dried Dates (optional) finely chopped

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In a plate or thali, mix turmeric with flour. Add the oil and mix with hands. Now using water, a little at a time, make medium soft dough. Keep it aside for 20 minutes.

Gently mix together the grated jaggery, almonds, cardamom powder, fennel seeds and chhuhara using a fork or spoon. (do not use hands to mix as the warmth of hands will melt jaggery and the mixture will be turn lumpy)

Make six equal sized balls of the dough and keep aside. Place the tawa or griddle on heat.

Using a rolling pin and flour, roll one ball to four inch size disc. Scoop in the filling and bring the edges together. Seal the edges and flatten it over the dough. Dust it in flour and roll it again, using a little flour to prevent it from sticking. Roll to six inch size disc/ parantha.

Transfer the parantha to the tawa and cook on medium heat. Flip the parantha once the top begins to change colour. Flip again when you see the parantha rising at places or when the bottom begins to turn light brown in colour. Apply oil and flip to fry it. Keep rotating the parantha to prevent it from burning. Remove from heat and apply ghee. Serve hot.

Roll and cook the rest of the balls in the similar fashion and serve hot.

Note: Once you are handling the parantha on heat, be very careful as the melting hot jaggery is capable of giving a nasty burn.

Note: Feel free to alter the amount of ingredients to suit your taste.

Yield: 6 Parathas

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NEER MOR / CHHAS / छाछ (Spiced Yogurt Drink)

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This post comes to you from Dubai! We have relocated from India to Dubai and after a few hiccups, we have finally settled in and now enjoying the summer break. It has been quite a while, since I experienced temperatures exceeding 46 degrees C. While July and August in Mumbai are absolutely heavenly with monsoon in its full glory, I have been told, here these two months are the hottest with temperatures touching and going beyond 50 degrees C and high humidity adding to discomfort to the heat. Keeping one self hydrated is one of the key things to do in this brutal heat and this chhas is one of the many delicious ways to do that. Besides, it was time to upload a post for Hopscotch.

In a previous post of mine, I had pretty much in detail shared with you, all about how robust the Punjabi cuisine is and how milk and milk products hold a special place in this vibrant cuisine. Our home was no different when it came to use of milk and milk products. Homemade yogurt was made in copious amounts during summers as was home churned cultured butter. Any excess butter or the one which was about to turn rancid was turned into ghee. However, I was the black sheep of the family. While others would love to indulge themselves with a glass full of sweet lassi, that was at times flavoured with rose syrup aka most north Indian’s all-time favorite ‘Rooh Afza’ (that I still loathe), I used to (and still do) go for the savoury one spiced with ginger and mint with a generous sprinkle of roasted cumin powder and chaat masala thrown in. At my mother’s house Chhaachh or Mat’tha was something we had almost everyday may it be winters or summers. It used to be an integral part of our meal. So the chhaas made with buttermilk was always savory, with spices in it, while the sweet ones were made using yogurt.

In my marital home, we prefer savoury lassi over sweet ones (which is a huge relief). Making mat’tha is really simple. Usually mat’tha is made using buttermilk which is diluted with water and as I mentioned above, is savory. But it can be easily swapped/ substituted with yogurt or dahi. One just needs to have an idea about what all one would like to add to one’s glass of yogurty goodness. I do not mind the ones with fruits such as the mango lassi, peach lassi, so on and so forth. Yet my heart always settles for the savoury one each time someone says lassi. There used to be this wonderful south Indian restaurant on the corner street of Barakhamba Road in Delhi and I used to love their their tempered Chhas or what they used to call as Neer Mor. Hence, I have taken the liberty to tweak the Punjabi chhas by adding a tempering of mustard seeds and curry leaves. You can omit it if you wish to but I love the flavors of curry leaves. Besides, they are great for a tummy struggling with the oppressive summer heat. Also, I have not added chopped ginger as I don’t like its shreds and bits in my mouth. Instead, I have extracted its juice and added it to the chhaas. Just play with the ingredients and see what works best for your taste buds. This is how we like ours.

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1C Plain/ Unflavoured Yogurt  (Dahi)

2½ C Water

½ tsp Ginger Juice (from nearly half an inch piece)

1/3 C Mint leaves (adjust to taste)

1 Green Chili, finely chopped

1 tsp Oil

½ tsp Mustard Seeds

8 – 10 Curry Leaves

1 tbsp chopped fresh Coriander (optional)

Salt to taste

1½ tsp Chaat Masala

2 tsp Roasted Cumin Powder

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In a pot, whisk the yogurt to have a smooth consistency. Add water and whisk again. Chop the mint and slightly bruise it in a mortar and pestle. Add ginger juice, mint leaves, and green chilli to the yogurt mix and keep the pot in the fridge for one and a half to two hours to allow all the flavors to mix together. At this stage, feel free to strain the chhaas to get rid of mint bits and chilies.

Take a small pan and add oil to it. When it is hot, add mustard seeds. Once they begin to crackle, switch off the heat and add curry leaves. (I always cover the pan when I am doing this job since mustard seeds splutter around and so do the curry leaves)

Add the tempering to the mat’tha along with salt, chaat masala and roasted cumin and serve chilled.

Note: The amount of water will depend on the thickness of yogurt. I had used home made yogurt which was thick and creamy.

Note: The amount of spices & herbs is also a matter of personal taste. Feel free to increase or reduce their amount.

Note: To serve, you may sieve the mat’tha or serve it just as it is.

Note: If you chosen not to sieve the contents, don’t forget to stir them before serving.

Note: If you feel that the yogurt is sour, add a few table spoons of milk instead of sugar to cut through the sourness.

Serves – 3

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Here are some more natural beverages / coolers that are great for summers:

Pom Limeade

Aam Panna (Raw Green Mango Cooler)

Lemonade Concentrate 

Masala Spiced Roasted Beetroot Lassi

Pineapple Jal Jeera (Pineapple flavored Cumin Water)

Jamun Kala Khatta (Sweet Sour & Spicy Java Plum Cooler)

Thanks for visiting and see you soon again

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