Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Grilled Paneer with Tandoori Masala (Serves 10 - 14)

One of the appetizers from my blog anniversary party, delicious grilled paneer with tandoori masala and veggies. You really can't go wrong with this one, if you follow the recipe accordingly. They got eaten up in no time. Thankfully they were only appetizers.

Paneer (fresh cheese) and tofu for that matter are similar in their ability to adapt to any flavors you add to them. Very common in the northern part of India, it has found its way to all restaurants that prepare Indian food. You can experiment a lot with paneer and be rest assured you won't mess up. But let me warn you, you really can mess up the base gravy to which you add the paneer if you get too boisterous :-)

Usually made by curdling hot milk with lemon juice and draining the water completely away, one does not need to conduct this experiment anymore as nowadays you get good paneer from any Indian store.

2 450g blocks of Nanak Paneer (as always choose the best available in the store)
1 cup strained yogurt (e.g. Greek yogurt)
4 tsp Shan Tandoori Masala powder, and more to sprinkle later
1 tbsp oil, and a little more in a cup for brushing the vegetables prior to cooking
1 inch piece fresh ginger root grated
1 clove garlic grated
salt to taste
2 onions
2 green peppers
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
Few yellow lemons cut in quarters

Cut the paneer into 1 inch square chunks or any size suitable for your skewers as long as they don't break up while grilling. Poke some tiny holes in the paneer pieces with a food pick.

In a large bowl add the yogurt, Shan tandoori masala powder (I am big fan of Shan lately), oil, ginger, garlic, lemon juice and salt. Mix everything well to prepare the marinade.

One thing to note here is that the Shan tandoori masala powder has salt in it. When you add additional salt to it, you would think by tasting the marinade that there is enough salt. I would suggest you add a little bit more salt at this point, as the paneer has no salt and once its cooked the level of saltiness is less.

Add the paneer cubes to the marinade, mix well, and store in the fridge for a few hours.

In the meanwhile cut the onion and green peppers into chunks that are similar in size to the paneer. On flat skewers (using round skewers, the paneer and vegetables keep turning and grilling is a pain), arrange the paneer and the onions and peppers alternatively (2 of each or any order you like).

Brush the vegetables with oil and sprinkle tandoori masala powder liberally on the vegetables as well as on the paneer. Place on the grill, and close the lid on the grill. Grill on medium heat (400 - 425) until the paneer is nicely roasted and the vegetables are done and crunchy. If you have no grill, use the conventional oven and bake the same at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until well roasted.

Take off from the skewers onto a serving platter, squeeze a good amount of lemon juice on the paneer and vegetables, and serve hot. Oh yea, total bliss!

Health Rating: Medium

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mango Mousse Cake (Serves 16)

Recipe for mango mousse adapted from ( and modified in creative way to make mango mousse cake.

I had mentioned in my earlier post that a few of our friends had brought in some desserts that were really good. This adapted and modified recipe is from Rakhee Chopra, who is always on the move where cooking is concerned, ready with her spatula and wok at a moment's request. A good cook too, which always makes it better :-).

1 can Ratna Alfonso Mango pulp
(the best brand out there for Alfonso mangoes)
1 tbsp gelatin
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups Cool Whip whipped topping (not frozen)
2 lbs of store bought sponge cake or angel cake
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp peach or orange liqueur (optional)
1/2 cup water

1. In 1/4 cup warm water, mix the gelatin till it fully dissolves and then mix this well with the mango pulp.
2. Fold the whipped cream gently in the mango pulp.
3. Take 1/2 cup of water and mix the sugar and liqueur in it.
4. Layer a serving pan with thin cut slices of the cake and dab some of the sugar-water-liqueur mix on it.
5. Now pour 1/2 the mango-cream puree on it and level it.
6. Put a second layer of cake and dab that as well with the sugar-water-liqueur mix.
7. Pour the remaining mango puree, level it and put in the fridge (not the freezer) for at least 2 hours or till it is well set.
8. Decorate the cake with chocolate shavings and whipped cream.
9. Enjoy devouring the cake!

Health Rating: Medium
Bio on Rakhee Chopra (in her own words)


"I am a Expert Business Analyst in Swiss Re reinsurance firm with Claims being the area of expertise. I enjoy what I do but cooking is my passion. It relaxes me after a hard day of work and what better stress reliever than the one that benefits the entire family! Coming from a Punjabi family every meal is a big deal and I love cooking for my boys and entertaining friends and family."

See how lucky to have friends like this who like to cook and entertain as well? ;-)

Rakhee lives in Westchester with her husband and son.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Yogurt Dip

We celebrated the one year anniversary of this blog on Saturday. We had invited our friends over for a barbecue and I spent almost the whole day cooking up 9 new dishes with great support from my wife.

Few of our friends prepared some mouth watering desserts as well. All in all a great evening spent with our friends with some real good food. A perfect weekend.

There were a total of 13 dishes, with one of them store bought. Get a hold of this – spicy tomato salsa, yogurt dip, tofu with jalapeno peppers, paneer tandoori masala on skewers, alu tikki (crispy potato fritters), hot Italian sausages from the shop, vegetable biryani, chicken biryani, mango mousse, pumpkin cake, baklavas and ice cream. I am already feeling hungry again.

I shall be posting these recipes in both my sites ( and where appropriate as soon as I write about them, but will be holding the vegetable and chicken biryani back as I wasn’t at all satisfied with the final results, especially the vegetable biryani.

Ok now to the yogurt dip. It was, in two words, finger licking. Last Thursday I had visited a middle eastern grocery store in our area, and picked up this yogurt dip seasoning mix. It will be good in salads also or while cooking grilled meats or kabobs. I wanted to complement this seasoning mix with something else, and hence added some scallions as well. The result was just amazing.

1 1/2 cups strained yogurt (middle eastern, or Chobani brand)
Two scallions, and chop only the green leafy part very fine
2 tsp yogurt seasoning mix
salt to taste

Add the yogurt to a serving bowl. Add the scallions, yogurt seasoning mix, and salt to taste. Mix everything really well.

Serve cold with carrots, celery, Tostitos chips and any other vegetables you can think of.

The seasoning mix I bought was made by this company called Sadaf based in Los Angeles, California. For those who cant access this product, just simply mix the following, based on your preference, to form a seasoning mix - all dried (mint, basil, tarragon, granulated onions, garlic, pepper, and rose bud flower). I know the last one is tough but the others would suffice.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Paneer Fried Rice (Serves 2)

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there and to those who follow this blog. And yes Happy One Year Anniversary to my blog as well.

I remember very vividly, last year on this same day I was in bed, recovering from my first two surgeries. And if I wasn't working, I was continuously watching Food Network on TV. I thought to myself maybe this was the right time for me to start something I had always wanted to - start my own food blog, which would help maintain my sanity as I recovered very slowly from my surgery, and maintain a positive mindset.

I am really happy that I acted on it, and it has been a year since then. It has been worth it. I will continue to get better this year and bring some really good recipes for everyone.

Thanks for your support, to all you readers out there, and my wife and family who have encouraged and pushed me in this endeavor.

Last week in my post, I had mentioned about the two masalas I am very fond of currently. I prepared this fried rice using Priya's biryani masala powder.

150 grams Nanak paneer (room temperature)
1/2 cup french cut beans (pre cooked)
1/2 red bell pepper chopped into small pieces
2 cups cooked (al dente) basmati rice
1 tsp cayenne pepper powder
1 1/2 tbsp Priya Biryani Masala Powder
2 tbsp oil
salt to taste

Buy Nanak paneer from any Indian store. It comes in a 450g block size. Cut off about 150 grams of paneer from this and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.

In a small non stick pan, on medium heat pour around 1/2 tbsp oil and pan roast the paneer cubes until they are golden brown. Set aside.

In a wok or a similar pan, on medium heat, add 1 1/2 tbsp oil, the cayenne pepper and stir a little. Immediately add the red bell peppers, green beans, biryani masala powder, and a pinch of salt and continue to stir until the vegetables are done but crunchy. Add the rice, paneer, and salt to taste, and mix everything well so that all the ingredients get incorporated into the rice and paneer.

Serve this delicious fried rice hot.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Potato Gravy (Serves 2)

My current favorite spice masalas are Shan's Haleem Mix (for cooking meat and pulses gravy) and Priya's Biryani Masala Powder (both available in most well stocked Indian grocery stores). Check out my Amazon store on the side to research them.

If you are planning to stock up, I recommend that you get both of these as they extremely versatile in their purpose and can be used in a variety of dishes, rather than the specific use mentioned in their packaging. Why do I like them so much? because they are really different from the masalas available from the other manufacturers such as Everest and Badshah (should start calling them Bad Shah), and bring a totally new taste to one's palate.

I cooked two quickfire dishes this week, starting off with this really easy but very tasty potato gravy to accompany the puris (mini chapatis deep fried instead on cooking them like tortillas) that my wife made.

I was done making this in 10 -15 minutes or so, and it turned out to be really delicious.

3 medium size potatoes smashed and cut into small chunks
1 small onion chopped fine
1 plum tomato cut into small pieces
1/4 tsp hing (Asafoetida)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tbsp oil
1 1/2 tsp Shan Haleem Powder
Small bunch fresh coriander leaves chopped fine
3/8 cup green peas (precooked)
juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 cup warm water

Boil the potatoes the old fashioned way or in the microwave until cooked, smash and cut them into small pieces. Cut the onions and tomatoes, and have them ready as well.

In a pan on medium fire, add the oil, hing, cumin seeds, red chili powder and cook them for a few seconds before adding the onions. Cook the onions until translucent, and add the green peas. After a few minutes of cooking, add the tomatoes, Shan Haleem Mix powder and mix everything well.

After a few minutes, add the potatoes and mix, adding water at the same time. Integrate everything well with a spatula, add the fresh coriander leaves and cook until it has the consistency of a semi liquid gravy.

Turn off the fire and add the lemon juice to the gravy. Mix well and serve hot with puris/chapatis.

Health Rating: High