Category Archives: Punjabi

Home made Paneer – A Tutorial

This weeks post was supposed to deal with a dessert made with Toddy palm Jaggery, but Murphy's Law  kind of kicked in, the one that goes on the lines of .. If you're desperately looking for something, You'll rarely find it, never mind if it stares at you in the face at all other times' . Yep.. spent an annoyingly frustrating afternoon turning the kitchen & the pantry upside down, only to discover that sometime during the past couple of months, the big bag had somehow been stuffed in the freezer, right next to the Flax oil.. so that will be a post of the next week.

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Punjabi Dal Crostata

At some point of time in everyone’s life there comes a day when 4 different members of the family want five different things for a meal & taking into account Murphy’s law, its usually on days when a.) the weather outside is frightful
and
b.) the kitchen pantry is running with a bright orange neon equivalent of a ‘low fuel’ light,

On one such occasion I was stuck in the middle of making (or rather making do with ) Masoor dal when my 5 year old declares that he wanted Pizza. The good news was that I did have a pack of frozen Pizza dough, but the bad news.. just enough cheese & Pasta Sauce for one 6 inch roti sized pizza.  Once thawed, it only makes practical sense to use it up ASAP & out of this necessity came this culinary invention.

Crostatas are basically just  rustic free form tarts. One of the best descriptions i read about the dish were from this blog http://joycooks.blogspot.com/2009/06/crostata-di-marmellata.html
The take home message: Crostatas are  tarts filled with anything you had left over & a lot of love…

My version is a savory crostata filled up with the Masoor dal subzi I’d made for supper with a bit of left over Paneer thrown in.

Ingredients:

For the Filling (a complete recipe for Masoor dal ):
1 cup Masoor dal
1 large onion, diced
1/4 tsp turmeric
2-3 cardamom pods

For the Masala:
1 pod garlic
2 inch piece ginger
1 tbsp Coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
2-3 dried Red chillies
1 tsp garam masala

Salt to taste
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp oil or ghee

To assemble:
store bought pizza dough
slices of Paneer cheese
melted butter
nigella seeds
chat masala & chopped cilantro for garnish

 In a pressure cooker combine Masoor Dal and onion, turmeric and cardamom pods with 2 cups water & cook till soft. Set aside
blend the ginger, garlic, red chillies, coriander, cumin and garam masala into a paste. In a skillet heat the oil/ghee and add the paste & cook till the raw smell disappears. Add the crushed tomatoes & salt and cook for ~ 5 minutes.
Add the cooked masoor dal, lower heat & simmer for ~ 10-15 minutes till the flavors are well combined.

Roll pizza dough into a 6″ circle.

line the centre (~ 4inch circle) with slices of paneer cheese and sprinkle with chat masala,

Spoon a tablespoon of masoor dal filling over the paneer.

You may add some extra slivers of Paneer over the dal if desired.

Bring the edges of the dough towards the centre, pinching it together to form a tart.
Brush with melted butter & sprinkle with nigella seeds

Bake in a 350 F oven for ~ 15 minutes till the edges & base are golden brown.

Cut into wedges & serve with a Tall Glass of Lassi… (or Lager!)

Is Galumpkis even an Indian word, leave alone patriotic?

Chanced upon the movie Mississippi Masala on Cable & started watching it out of sheer boredom… Denzel Washington was a definite eye candy redeeming feature, but what tugged at me was the scene where the Tape recorder starts playing that all time RK classic ‘Mera Jootha hai Japani’ it kind of seemed to add sense to my fledgling food endeavor,      (Yeh dishes  hai Japani, mere styling englistani, naamein hai French aur Roosi, phir bhi food  hai Hindustani), Ahh, the hallucinations that occur when you have no clue how to spend a snowed in afternoon!!

About Galumpkis, this is a traditional East European dish made with cabbage. Leaves are wilted in salted water, stuffed (or should I say rolled ) with rice, meat (usually pork) and seasonings & baked or steamed till the flavors have blended. This is  a staple dish in a lot of Slavic countries like Croatia.

Swiss Chard makes for a fabulous substitute for spinach in all Indian dishes, once the crunchy celery like central vein has been removed. the leaves are also a bit more sturdy compared to the delicate spinach leaves, and will not fall apart as easily when subjected to extended cooking.

This weeks offering is a tribute to the culinaryl mecca that New Delhi truly is. The foods that rule at this time of year with the chilly nip in the air are Makki di roti, Sarson da saag, not to forget the streetside chaatwaalas selling charcoal baked sweet potatoes smoky flavored & redolent with the incomparable taste of chaat masala & lime.

Here is my interpretation of Galumpkis, a baked saag stuffed with marinaded paneer & served over a bed of rice. with a side of sweet potato fries seasoned with lime & chaat masala.

For the ‘Galumpkis, you need:
8 oz block of Paneer (Indian Cottage cheese)
1 tbsp oil
Salt & chilli powder to taste
a pinch of asafetida
6-8 large leaves of swiss chard.

Using a vegetable peeler cut thin slices of paneer into a mixing bowl. Add the oil, salt, chilli powder and asafetida & toss well till the spices are evenly distributed over the paneer slices. Set aside for ~ 1 hr till the flavors have set in.

Remove the central white colored  vein of the chard leaf.

Dip the leaf in scalding water for ~ 10 s till the leaf wilts (alternatively, you may steam them for ~ 30 s). dry the leaf and place a tbsp of the marinaded paneer as shown.

Roll the leaf over the paneer as one would for a spring roll.

For the gravy you need:
 1 medium sized onion
1/3 -1/2 cup cashewnuts (depending on how sweet you like your gravy)
1 pod garlic
2-3 green chillies,
1″ piece fresh ginger
1 tbsp ghee + 1 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp Garam masala
1 cup milk (I used skim since the cashew nuts have a very creamy & rich texture, but any milk shd be ok)

Grind all these to a paste. In a skillet, heat the ghee & oil. add the paste & cook on a low heat till the raw smell of the onion disappears. Add the turmeric and garam masala & mix well.

Continue cooking on low heat till the oil releases from the gravy. Add the milk & whisk well to eliminate lumps. Cook down till it becomes a smooth paste.

To finish the dish:
 Heat oven to 350 C. Pour a thin layer of the makhani gravy at the bottom of an ovenproof dish and spread evenly

Arrange the paneer/chard rolls seam side down in the dish.

Pour the remaining gravy over the rolls, cover with aluminum foil with a few slits to let out steam. and place in the oven for ~ 20 minutes.

To serve carefully remove the rolls and place over a bed of Basmati rice.

The orange part of the dish is simply sweet potato fries tossed with lime & chaat masala!

Since it was not easy to cut open the roll while on the rice, Here is what a cross section of the roll looks after its cooked.

A very happy Republic day to everyone in India! Jai Hind!