Best paneer is not from the market, it is from the kitchen. Prepare by curdling the boiling milk (with vinegar). Draining the liquid, squeezing through a thin cloth and pressing with some weight.
If you do not know the process, experiment a little. You can not go wrong, no-one till date has gone wrong.
Now you have paneer, think about all the other stuff you like, ajwain (carom, Bishop’s weed), salt, red chillies, onion. Add them to the crumbled paneer. Use this stuff as a filling. May use cilantro for visuals and aroma. Up-to you. Green chilly, same remark applies.
Whole wheat dough, take a ball, and use the filling. Lift the sides and cover itself. Roll a nice flat circular chapati out of this.
Place this on the hot griddle, bake one side, flip over, bake on the other side. NOW….only now paste a little oil on this side. Flip over, repeat the oil application. Keep a spatula to press the parantha (after oil application, chapati becomes parantha).
If pressed properly, on the right places, and the gods in heaven benign, it may even puff up. Even if it does not, it is delicious to look at and heavenly to eat.
I saw this squash in Farmers Market at Mountain View CA, and fell in love. This was a pomegranate type fruit color and size-wise. The farmer told me that the skin is edible, and is like butternut squash.
I took the two home and planned a vegetable dish similar to North Indian Pumpkin that we eat in marriage festivities.
I baked it whole in the oven at 400F for 10 minutes, maybe 20. I am not too sure, because we were in the process of making a cake, and my d-in-law said she will do the squash to save time. Whatever…..the squash was well done when it was given back to me, cut in half and cleaned of the seeds.
Naturally, I cut them in small slices and assembled my ingredients. The Fenugreek (methi) seeds were already dipped in water to soften. Tamarind paste, unrefined sugar, garlic, onions, de-skinned tomatoes, cayenne, and salt were around.
I took a frying pan and added some oil, allowed it to smoke (smoking is allowed in the kitchen). I added the fenugreek seeds still a little wet, to see spluttering and a little caramelizing of the seeds, probably a mistake. I quickly added the crushed garlic, and the onions, and reduced the heat a little. After a while, the tomatoes and sugar went in to give a thick red slurry. In our household the liquids are called slurry as a reminder that this is a mechanical engineer cook.
A little cooking of the tomatoes and then added some tamarind paste diluted with water. Then the squash, and a little water, just a wee bit. Cooked for a while, not too much. Took it off the stove, and allowed it to absorb the spices’ aroma.
After a few adjustments of salt, addition of garam masala (Indian curry powder), it was perfect.
I had a small Butternut squash and I thought about cooking it. We in India generally use pumpkin for preparing curry, well, same family, so why not. And when Halloween is so near.
In Dehradun city, North India, in 1987, we used to eat at some restaurants who prepared a delectable dish with pumpkin a little sweet and sour, and a bit mushy, I tried to recreate my fantasy.
So peeled and cored the squash, as you see and cut in small pieces. I took two tomatoes and peeled them (tomato skin left in curry is loosely hanging around and shreds are conspicuous by their presence). Tomatoes should be felt, no seen. I cut the tomatoes in small pieces, and kept an inch of ginger whole ungrated (my grandkids do not like ginger shreds on their palate but fragrance of ginger ok. I wanted to add some Cayenne Pepper, but avoided again because young children were involved. In go two cloves of garlic beaten to submission, but left intact.
So, out comes a cooker, heated and with a little canola oil (canola is Canadian Mustard). Added fenugreek seeds to splutter, and then added the squash and tomato pieces. Pumpkin is always made with addition of Fenugreek, not regular Cumin in North India, don’t ask me why. I never asked my mother. And now I can not….she is smiling from above.
I added one teaspoon of turmeric concentrate, a little brown sugar (sweet variety….not the drug), turmeric powder and salt. cooked it under pressure, but no whistle. Too delicate for that. I decided to cool the cooker under tap after a while. All was guesswork. I love to take risks in the kitchen.
Ended with a little curry powder, (garm masala) and a hint of EVOO for the kids. I am sorry, I in a hurry did not take the photo of the hot stuff and its cold now. having been in the fridge last half an hour that I am typing.
So little was left over, I am delighted.
If nk (that is me) can cook, so can you. Do not be afriad to take risk (in the kitchen). Never.
Presumably, the dough making is not a rocket science, but rolling chapati and cooking first on a griddle and then on a flame is/maybe. Hence photographs. Some cooks add flours of other grains in wheat flour. Some cooks prefer a stiffer dough, my preference is for a softer dough, which gives softness to the bread. Some cooks insist that the dough should rest a while, at least 30 minutes, I prefer it not to rest at all, and love the dough that way. Again North Indians prefer to have coarse flour.
My rolling pin has ball bearings and makes it easy, and fun thing to roll. I do not wash it, only scrub with the back of a knife for any sticking dry dough. Always wash my hands CLEAN before touching flour or dough. No rings in the finger is a good policy. Alternately I do not touch flour or dough by hand. Use a spoon. Even for making small balls, I use a spoon, take a small portion and start rolling, untouched by hand till then.
Feel motivated to try your hand? GA (go ahead, old telex lingo)
What can impart a sour taste to a vegetable dish in Indian cooking. You got a choice:
Unripe mango…..either fresh or dried and powdered
Pomegranate seed powder
sour curd……old curd
Kokum (garcinia indica)
aonla (indian gooseberry) fresh or dried and powdered
Did I leave any stuff which gives sour taste?
Each of these have their own typical taste, fragrance, texture and color. Additionally they go with specific type of vegetables. Moms have been using very specific combinations, because of the medicinal properties associated with each. Depending upon the thickness of the curry, and the mixture of sourness with sweetness that one requires.
It also depends on the guy who is cooking and his preferences. I love to add sour curd, because I like the taste. In lentils, I add more of kokum, because it imparts a unique flavor and a little red color. Fragrance wise nothing to beat lemon, added after cooking.
Aonla or gooseberry in powdered form can give a deep grey color which is needed by the Bengal gram curry.
Tomatoes come in various shapes sizes and sourness. Use as pulp, or whole, without skin and seeds. Seeds are the sour portion.
The dish has to be designed on the drawing-board of the mind of the chef before starting, and that will decide the ingredients. The spice should be subtle rather than bold unless you are cooking for Jats (body builders) who require even the spices to be robust and muscular.
In 1960s the rich Delhi-wallahs used to eat this vegetable because it was expensive, or the other way round 🙂 Today the poor eat it, also the quality available in my market is a little extra ripened having a yellow core and the seeds as hard as the teeth.
I thought of a little innovation, removed the core, boiled with some water and strained to remove the hard seeds. I used the liquor so obtained as the base for the vegetable. Because the core has taste and gives body and aroma, I did not discard it wholesale. Remember “Baby with the bath water?”
You are now to see the process in the photos below, the Parwal is peeled, ends discarded, and cut in halves.
With a spoon, the yellow inside core is removed and boiled. Then handheld blender does the blending to remove the stone-like seeds. Some were having white cores, I did not remove the cores and used as such.
After dicing the Parwals, Tomatoes and masala that is turmeric, coriander, green chillies, salt, ginger and cuminseeds were added alongwith the parwal in a pressure cooker, heated till first whistle and allowed to cool on its own.
Final act is to add Garam masala (curry powder). No oil….none at all, no tadka like we usually do, no tamaasha, all taste.
Minimal masala, low on spices high on health. At Rs 20 (third of a $) for a Kg, very inexpensive.
The photos show 1Kg preparation, good for 5 persons for one time.
When I ate it I realized that the dish can be improved in color, texture and taste. Next time there will be some crushed boiled potatoes to add body, and the tomatoes will be in a skinned avatar. Skins irritate. 🙂
Preparing any soup is easy. Take all the vegetables you want in the soup, and peel them if needed and make smaller pieces, easy to boil and mesh. Pressure cook these with water, then with an electric hand blender mash them into pulp and pass through a sieve.
Further add water for proper consistency and boil if you want to. Not necessary. Actually there are many steps in Indian cooking which have been performed over centuries, mom did it, therefore. You must sit down, adopt a meditator’s stance and with that new found awareness ask yourself a question,” Is it really necessary?”. If there is an inner voice saying no, just skip it. That is good cooking. You will learn by tasting. Adjust the seasoning to your taste. This cooking is called स्वान्तः सुखाय meaning ‘for personal pleasure’. Adjust the looks of the food as well. It must look great, smell great and taste great. It must be good to feel on the tongue and by hand. That is the food of the gods.
Back to the soup, I had Beetroot and carrots. For a little sour taste I added tomatoes. In Delhi you get two varieties of tomatoes, one is less pulpy and sour, the other has thick flesh and sweet, I chose the more rounded, sour one. Boiled the carrots, beet and tomatoes, mashed, and sieved. Added a little water and salt and pepper, the soup was ready.
No oil, no cheese, more or less calorie-less. More or less no sodium! Dripping with fragrance, color, taste, and health. No limit to eating (actually slurping) any time of the day.
Cooked French beans with carrots and potatoes in a North Indian “Sabzi” to be eaten with chapatis.
The Carrot is an “English” carrot lighter than the Indian variety, and is less juicy and less sweet, it does not get squished. hence preferred.
This has no oil added and is a pretty simple dish to prepare. all the time taken is in dicing one carrot, potatoes (two medium), and a pound of beans with ends clipped. I like my vegetables washed and skinned (pesticides reside in the skin….so do the vitamins and minerals…but…) Everything cut small for ease of cooking. Time taken in winters and in summers are different, ambient in summers is 32C in kitchen, and in winters 10C. So after the Pressure cooker emits first whistle and we switch off the gas on the stove, the remnant cooking in winters is not that prolonged as in summer, you got the point! I also chose to add two diced tomatoes.
Loaded the French beans, potatoes, carrot and tomatoes in a three liter cooker and added 50ml or so water. Also a little turmeric, two chopped green chillies, chopped ginger, some coriander powder, and a little salt. Closed the lid, waited for the whistle and switched off the gas immediately after the whistle.
Garam masala (Curry powder) and lemon juice (a tea spoonful) was added after the pressure in the cooker had come down on its own, that is the cooking time. Tomatoes juices mixed with the 50 ml water, and the coriander gives the dish the required “body”. I did not add any onion, garlic, or cilantro leaves, because they overpower the delicate aroma of the beans.
Aroma unfortunately does not travel on the internet circuit. Sirf ehsaas hai ye rooh se mahsoos karo. I am sorry, even ehsaas and rooh can not be effectively translated in English language.
“Season it, and season it again” my favorite chef says. I love those guys who love to cook, simply by feel. It is heavenly. Ever seen an accomplished artist painting by measurements. The scale is for school kids. Same is true for kitchen, scale is for the novice. What says thou? I taste the beans, adjust the seasoning, and taste it again. Heavenly!
I love Cauliflower as an edible flower, which looks good and has great aroma. This flower was 700 gms, (Indian Rupees 12 per Kg), very tender and soft.
So I added a few boiled potatoes, and sauteed onions, garlic, green chillies, turmeric, jeera and ginger, in the large Japanese non stick pan (10″ dia and 2 inch deep), a little water and kept it on to boiling covered with a large plate (thaali).
Reduced heat and kept it for a very short while say five minutes.
Added a little salt and lemon juice. Result was very edible and al dente.
Have a look.
…again can’t send the aroma through the satellite!