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Homemade Kerala Parottas!

Anjali Venugopal June 9, 2017 NO COMMENTS

IMG_4983It is a lovely, sunny afternoon with a cool breeze in the hipster part of Vienna, and here I am sipping on a large mug of wheat beer with just the right amount of froth, on a Thursday while I sit down in this little nook, by the cobbled by-lanes of this dreamy city, under the blue skies, to work on the blog; one of the many luxuries a part time legal career offers you and something that ensures that my sanity (or the lack of it) stays put. As I look around, I see tourists in pretty, flowery outfits and seemingly over-the-top sunglasses, scaling the old architecture in this part of the city; grumpy looking women on their way back home with what looks like full bags of groceries; lovers reuniting in a tight embrace; over excited kids on their scooters whizzing by (and I cannot help but say a prayer that they get back to their respective homes in one piece); immaculately dressed women in their early thirties (I assume) observing intently the paintings and some exquisite art (which is right out of the boundaries of my comprehension), exhibited in the circle about 30 meters from the spot I have decided to call my own. I must admit at this point that I have always been quite fascinated (bordering on suspicious) by people who call themselves connoisseurs of modern art, jazz and wine. Maybe they know, maybe they don’t, who am I to tell? I will laugh (in my head, of course) and laugh, I will.

Let me get to what I came here for, before the beer kicks in. So, today I have finally decided to put out my post on Kerala Parottas. The one thing, with the blasphemous accompaniment of beef fry, that can get you lynched in almost every other part of India except my own. But as they say in the recent release in Malayalam Cinema, Godha, Parotta and Beef roast/fry is not something trivial for a true bred Malayali like me; it is an emotion (check the scene out here); an emotion that got injected into my veins a long time before I knew it; an emotion that takes me back, thousands of miles away to that green speck in the globe where I was born, raised and taught to love unconditionally without giving as much as a thought to trifling matters such as religion, political affiliation or food preferences; an emotion that takes me back to the times in my childhood when I have sat in the back seat of the car with my sister, and my mom who called shot gun even before I was born.

Another sip of this beautiful beer gets me reminiscing and takes me back straight to the backseat of our Ford Ikon which has seen me wave vigorously at strangers in fits of excitement and laughter that overcame me during our family trips to Munnar, as well as when the tears fell silently down my cheeks at 16, like little streams that flowed past the lush green in the mountains, when my dad passed his verdict on the boy I thought I had then given my heart to. Ah how we grow up! Anyway. I vividly remember the times I have spent in that very seat, with my mom and sister waiting for my dad to bring back that packet; the packet that smelled as though the heavens had descended; that packet which could make even a statue purr in delight; hot parottas and right-off-the-stove beef roast. While we waited in the car, we have stared endlessly at the art and the dexterity with which the chettan at the roadside stall slapped the parotta dough against the steel coated table, kneading it with so much love, not once questioning his liberal use of cooking oil, flattening the dough with so much skill that made our jaws drop to the ground. That is probably when that emotion called ‘Parotta’ got kindled somewhere in the left side of my chest.

So, getting down to business. Today, I share with you that one recipe which took me ages to pen down, primarily because of the confusion created in the process of fixing my amateur video. However, I have gathered all the courage in me to get it sorted and to let out to the world the fact that Kerala Parottas are doable at home; within the confines of your own kitchen; unsupervised. Also, I used Rapeseed oil which has the least saturated fat among all oils, quite contrary to the popular belief that Kerala Parottas are oily and supremely unhealthy. I wouldn’t call this healthy under any circumstances, however, that is not what a pure blood Mallu aims at while deciding to go for these beauties. So, here you go.

Things you will need: (for about 8-10 medium sized parottas)

  • Maida/ All purpose flour- 1.5 cups
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt
  • Sugar

How to go about it

  1. First step towards Kerala Parottas is to make a soft dough. Add about half a teaspoon of salt and about the same quantity of sugar to the flour along with about two tablespoons of oil to the flour. Add water little by little and then knead it to form a soft ball. This step is super important and you need to ensure that the dough is kneaded well and there are no cracks visible on the surface of the ball of flour. Take your time with this step. I kneaded the ball for about a full 10 minutes.
  2. Once this is done, cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes. No concessions there. Sorry.
  3. The next step would be to make small, even balls of the dough. Make balls that are about 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter. No, you do not need to fetch the rule for this purpose, it is merely an approximate.
  4. Knead the dough balls well for a minute each. Set them aside for another five minutes.
  5. The next step is to flatten the balls out to form disks that are about five inches in diameter. Basically, all you need to do is to flatten them out with your hand to form circular looking discs. As you make each disc, make sure you brush sufficient oil to each of them before stacking them up together. This will make sure that the discs do not stick to one another. Once the discs are stacked up, let them rest for another 10 minutes.
  6. The next step is the crucial one. Now that you have left the discs to rest, they will spread out easily which is what needs to be done. So, take one disc at a time, lay it out on a flat, clean surface and start spreading it out by pulling the edges. It will now easily spread to form a thin sheet and you need to pull it from all sides in order to spread it out evenly.
  7. Gather the spread out dough from one side, so it resembles a handkerchief that is being held from one corner, and place the dough on your free palm as a spiral.
  8. Once the spirals have been made, brush a little bit of oil on them before you let them rest for another 5 minutes.
  9. Next, flatten the spirals out with your hand to make the parottas.
  10. Heat a tawa/pan up, brush some cooking oil on it, and place the parottas on it. Each side would need to cook for about two minutes. Once the parottas start getting that lovely, brown colour, take them off the tawa/pan.
  11. Once all the parottas have been cooked, stack them up again, and then clap your hands after keeping the stack in between. Please check video if this step is unclear. This is to hep in fluffing the parottas out, and again a crucial step.
  12. Your fluffy parottas are now ready to be served hot with a delicious beef roast, the recipe for which is available right here 🙂

And in case all of that sounds too dense, the video I have put together is below (it is sped up, but very amateur work, so do bear with my lack of skill :P):

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Stir Fried Carrots in Chilli Onion Paste

Anjali Venugopal June 3, 2017 NO COMMENTS

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My love and passion for home cooked meals is not something that germinated in my veins overnight. I grew up in a household that took (and still continues to take) home cooking extremely seriously; to the extent that I can with the help of a negligible amount of effort to back me up, recall practically all the occasions my family has eaten out during my childhood. Both my Amma and my grandma are fantastic cooks with a convincing belief in a fact that they have proved time and again; that a wholesome, home cooked meal is the secret to fitness and good health. And this is possibly what got me hooked to the idea that the tastiest food, the food that gives a nudge to all your five senses, the food that lingers on in your mind for days after you have tasted it, can be whipped up within the confines of your own kitchen while you have absolute control over the quality and the quantity of every ingredient that goes into the wok.

Good food has always been held in great regard in my home; where every dish prepared is critically evaluated; praised when it was called for and criticized (constructively of course) otherwise; where a lot of love and effort goes into the preparation of a meal. As a Hindu household in Kerala, it should come as no surprise when I tell you that we have and continue to celebrate festivals of all other religions alike. I use the term ‘Hindu’ with caution, lest I should be brought within the ambit of the sheer mockery our country, headed by fanatic goons masquerading as saviours of this pure and noble way of life, propels today, shamelessly under the guise of this term. No, I am not one of them. And proudly so.

Let me not unnecessarily venture into areas that make my blood boil.

The term ‘celebration’ in my home had one, and only one meaning and that was to make a delicious, home cooked meal. I still see the twinkle in Amma’s eye when she brings up suggestions such as “maybe we should buy some tender mutton for Christmas” or “how about we prepare a yummy biryani for Eid?”

That would be followed by all of us sitting down together for lunch, laughing, smacking our lips in delight and wiping our plates clean. This practice went on meticulously for all the years I was at home and in all probability counts for a large chunk of the fondest of memories I hold within. Ah those were the days!

Today I share with you yet another incredibly easy recipe which you can whip up with around three ingredients. The base for this yummy recipe is something a lot of us don’t find too exciting; carrots. This has been a favourite dish all through my childhood and I have lost track of the number of times, Amma packed me this for lunch. Till rather recently, I was completely unaware of the possibilities of having this with anything else but rice, or Chapattis. A friend tried this recipe out and came up with the option of using this in a sandwich with some grated cheese. So, the possibilities are many, try it out and keep me posted as always.

Things you will need:

  • Carrots- 4 or 5 large ones (Chopped into round disks, not too fat)
  • Onion- 1 medium sized
  • Dried red chillies- 4-5 (vary according to heat tolerance)
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt

 

How to go about it:

  1. Grind the onion and the dried red chillies to form a roughly smooth paste.
  2. Heat some cooking oil in a wok, add the chopped carrots and the onion paste to it with adequate salt. Stir well to make sure the paste is evenly distributed. Add about ¼ glass of water, keep the wok closed and let the carrots cook well.
  3. Once the carrots are cooked, get the excess water to evaporate. Once that is done, add a bit more oil and nicely fry up the carrots. This should take about ten minutes or maybe a slight bit more. The key to this recipe is to make sure the onion paste is nice and brown, since this is what gives it that lovely flavour. So, as I always tell you, patience is the key 🙂

That was easy as pie wasn’t it? Serve with rice or chapatis and dal or even as a sandwich topping with some grate cheese. Yum Yum. This dish is quite a favourite in my part of the world and I feel it deserves a lot more. So try it out, and let me know!

 

Fried Eggplant in Coriander Chilli paste

Anjali Venugopal May 16, 2017 NO COMMENTS

IMG_4024Getting to leave work when the sun is still out is a lovely feeling. Also, this is something which I promise to never take for granted considering all the frowns (and mumbles) that I have had to put up with in India, if and when I ever had the audacity to as much as walk out of the office door any minute before the wee hours of the night (or morning). Yesterday, as I was skipping down the winding stairs in the old, beautiful Viennese structure that houses my workplace a little past 5, I gulped when I realized that this would have been treated as nothing but a half a day’s worth of work in India. This thought nudged that sense of gratitude in me for letting me escape the monotony in that part of the world where ‘work-life balance’ is just an unholy, fictional term which is never to be uttered and is treated almost at par with the term ‘remuneration’. On giving it a second thought, I think ‘remuneration’ still takes the gleaming trophy.

We live in a world where it is somehow illogically unpardonable to speak about money at your work place, lest you should be seen as “money minded”. When being confident of your own worth (on monetary terms, of course) was deemed to be an outright crime I will never know. So, in short, once you decide to take up an employment in an organization, you are expected to erase from your memory the fact that you have a home to go back to; the fact that you have people in your life who would want (maybe need) a fraction of your time every day; the fact that you had something called a ‘life’ right before you made up your mind to inscribe your initials onto that sheet of white paper with fine print which is your employment contract. And all this without being as much as concerned about the sum that is expected to hit your bank accounts (hopefully) by the end of every month? Really now?

I am not one to preach about high flying deals like “quit your job and travel the world”. On a side note, I have always thought that such ideas are nothing but absurd, and propounded by kids who have a tad too much in their respective bank accounts all thanks to the gold plated spoons they were born with in their mouths; gold that came from the lives of toil their parents lived. Coming from an upper middle class family, I don’t need to be taught about the importance of being able to fund for yourself and for the people you love. I do not need to be taught the sheer delight a well-earned pay cheque brings. All that bothers me is the fact that the term profession and all that it stands for in our world today, is seldom seen as the ‘means to the end’; the end which is your happiness. Instead, it is seen as the end in itself and that my friend, I feel is ridiculous.

Yesterday, as I walked back home from the subway station in the warm sunshine, with the lovely, cool spring wind on my face, I felt strangely content. I was happy to go back to our warm, cosy little apartment while the sun still streamed in; while I was still pepped up as opposed to my Indian law firm days when all I would have the energy to do once I got back home in the dead of the night was to change in to my pyjamas before hitting the sack. I was in such a light mood as I got back home, that I wanted to cook something elaborate for dinner. So, I changed into one of my oversized tees and a clean pair of stone washed denims, made a visit to the supermarket round the corner, came back home and prepared a feast for the two of us, opened a can of beer each, chattered about my day to the Husband, watched a movie and went to bed early. This was the kind of day I had always dreamt of while in India. And today, as I live the dream, I cannot help but wish the same for every one of us.

Anyway getting down to business. A lot of you had written to me with suggestions for the blog and I could not be any happier. Something that I come across a tad too often is that I should concentrate more on vegetarian dishes and this is something I plan to take up very seriously. So today, I share with you a recipe to a vegetarian dish which you can whip up in practically no time. This is something I chanced upon during my pursuits to get to something more complicated which a friend of mine had suggested. Although I did not quite get the dish I had in mind quite straight, what came out of the experiment was delicious. So, here goes.

What you will need:

  1. Brinjal/Aubergines/Eggplant- 250 gms (cut into long pieces)
  2. Coriander leaves- 1 small bunch
  3. Green chilies- 4 or 5 (vary according to your heat tolerance levels)
  4. Turmeric powder- ¼ tsp
  5. Cooking oil
  6. Salt
  7. Curry leaves (optional)

 

How to go about it.

  1. Make a smooth paste of the coriander and the green chilies and keep aside.IMG_3949
  2. Heat some cooking oil in a wok and temper some curry leaves. Add the cut eggplant to the wok and sauté well. Add the salt and turmeric, mix well and keep the wok closed to make sure the eggplants are cooked well. Once they turn soft, add a bit more oil in case you feel the wok is running dry, and fry the aubergines till they are almost well done. This should take about 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Add the coriander chili paste and mix well. Fry the eggplants well in the paste till you lose the raw flavour of the coriander.IMG_3955
  4. All you need to do for this recipe is to make sure that the eggplants are fried well. They taste the best when they are fried till they are a step away from burnt.IMG_3960

Your eggplants fried in coriander chili paste is ready and tastes great with some hot rice and dal (lentil curry). Give it a try and let me know 🙂

 

 

 

 

Tastes like home, Part 2: Kerala style Parippu Curry, traditional lentil curry from Kerala

Anjali Venugopal March 27, 2017 NO COMMENTS

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All our 16 year old selves have been found guilty of wanting to grow up, be independent and leave home eventually. The rules, the curfews, and the choices our parents made were never good enough for us. Life was “boring” as we called it. Especially for an upper middle class teen like me, the city wasn’t as “happening” as I would have liked and incessantly dreamt of a “cool” life in a bigger city.

My dream was to find my way, by hook or crook, out of that lovely, green corner I was born and raised in, which is home to the most beautiful rain I have witnessed; where it is commonplace to wake up listening to the birds outside your window at dawn; where it is the norm to know the entire neighbourhood by their first names; where twilight is welcomed by the soft scents of agarbati, where my happy family sat on the verandah, watching the sun go down, sharing a joke and laughing to our hearts content, where Amma would make a stern reminder about our homework at 7 PM on the dot as though she had some sort of alarm clock embedded in her system. A couple of hours of fiddling with my homework would mean dinner time and food would miraculously appear on the dining table and all I ever had to do was show up, washed and clean. Amma would serve the usual staple of some boiled rice, sautéed seasonal veggies tempered with a hint of coconut and some spicy fish curry or even some fried fish on the good days. My sole duty was to quietly wipe my plate clean but no! I would choose to make a fuss, making a face at the veggies and maybe even throw a verbal tantrum as I grew older. All this would last till Amma’s patience snapped or when she would just beckon to my dad to come take care of the situation, when all of a sudden, silence would fall like those thick velvety curtains back in my school auditorium. To think this was the life I wanted to run away from…

Somehow, in our eternal pursuit behind what will be instead of what is, maybe we lost out on the sweetest fruits of life. Today as we sit, laboring away at a corporate job, staring into the computer screens for hours at a stretch, nibbling at a sandwich made of some dry bread for lunch, struggling to pay our bills, craving for a warm plate of mom-cooked food, how many of us can say honestly that we are indeed happy? And how many of us would trade the lives we lead now to go right back to your wooden study desks at home racking your brain to somehow make sense of the quadratic equation staring back at you from those single lined note books, while you fiddled with the new gel pen that you proudly got for yourself after saving up 10 rupees from your pocket money?

Well, one can wish. As somebody once said, we are the oldest we have ever been and the youngest we will ever be, and keeping that in mind let us resolve not live in the past or whine about the present. I have realized that there are few things a warm, tasty meal cannot solve. Let me arm you with a simple recipe to combat that yearning to go right back in time to your mom’s kitchen waiting for her to serve you dinner. This is a Kerala style lentils dish that is extremely popular in my part of the world. This goes best with some hot, white rice with a generous spoonful of ghee drizzled on it.

Things you will need:

1. Moong dal (aka Mung bean, green gram)- half cup (peeled and spilt)
2. Coconut- 2 table spoons (grated or desiccated)
3. Cumin seeds- ½ teaspoon
4. Turmeric powder- ½ teaspoon
5. Green chilli- 1
6. Ghee- as your heart desires
7. Mustard seeds and dried red chillies (curry leaves if available) for tempering

How to go about it

1. In a pressure cooker, dry roast the moon dal for about 4 minutes or till you start to get the lovely, roasted aroma of the dal.
2. Add three times the amount of water and a tablespoon of ghee to the dal and pressure cook it for around 4 whistles on a medium heat. (dal: water = 1:3)
3. In the meanwhile, grind the coconut, green chilli, cumin seeds and the turmeric powder to form a nice smooth paste. Keep that aside.
4. After 4 whistles, keep the pressure cooker aside to let the pressure release naturally.
5. After the pressure is released, using a whisk, mash the dal very well to make the consistency even. You may also use the back of a large spoon for the same.
6. Add some more water if you feel the dal has become too thick for your liking. Put the cooker back on the heat, sans the lid, add the paste, stir well and bring to a boil.
7. While that is being done, heat a bit of ghee in a pan and temper the mustard seeds and dried chillies (and curry leaves if available). Add this to the dal, mix well and enjoy your happy meal.

Tastes Like Home, Part 1: Dal Khichdi

Anjali Venugopal February 25, 2017 2 COMMENTS

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‘Home’ is one word that can trigger a myriad of emotions in us; especially ones like me, living in faraway lands hoping to get a solid grip of the real adult life. There is something about twilight that invariably reminds me of all things home. Just as I watch the sun bid adieu outside my window, I cannot help but reminisce about my own little corner in the world, where I was taught that ‘love’ was the answer to all the questions life had to throw at you.

I get carried away to the laughter, the fun, the fights and the tears the walls of my home have witnessed through the years. I can just close my eyes, take a deep breath and I can smell my pillow who has seen more tears than I would like to admit to; I can feel the warm rice porridge seasoned with nothing but a pinch of salt on my lips fed to me by my amma’s soft hands when I came down with that wretched flu when I was 8; I can feel the taste of that crisp, raw mango my granddad plucked for my sister and me, from the neighborhood tree, which we relished with some chilli powder and salt with a dash of coconut oil; I can see my dad helping me out with my first set of tube paints; I even remember vividly the first sip of beer I had with him; I can see myself in my new pink and black frilly dress ready to celebrate my sister’s second birthday; even the first swing my dad put up for me on the chikoo tree behind my house; I can almost see myself at my granny’s knee listening to her ramblings of her first time on a ship. In fact, I can even see myself at my first formal date with the Husband, many years ago by the sea nibbling on a plate of chicken stir fried in some oriental flavours.

However, coming to think of it, I realize that the concept of ‘home’ has little to do with the structure of your house. It is the memories you have made all your life with the people you love without realizing you were making them. But to me, food plays a serious role in bringing back these memories. I associate a great deal of nostalgia with every bite I take and it is no secret that every time I miss home, a good home cooked meal helps to alleviate the emotional turmoil at least by 20%. Well, that is how it works for me.

There are days when I am moody beyond human comprehension and the only thing I want to do, is devour a plate of hot rice with amma’s spicy fish curry. There are other days when I sense a void, when nothing but a plate of some steaming hot momos, drenched in that killer sauce can satiate my soul. I come to realize that every single place I have spent a reasonable amount of my time at, has something to contribute to what I call ‘my idea of home food’. I have seen a considerable portion of India, ever since I left home at 17 and each of the cities I have had to spend a fraction of my life in, have in some way or the other affected my taste buds and the way I see food in general.

When I left home in 2007, my palate could not have been more mallu. All I craved for, day in and day out, was some boiled rice, stir fried vegetables and the mackerel curry. However, at some point in my life, it dawned on me that my palate has evolved and that there are days when I crave for that Andhra Chili Chicken from Nagarjuna on Residency Road, in Bangalore. There are other days when I all want is a plate of Rajma Chawal from my hostel in Delhi. Or maybe just some rich Dal and that sweet Kadhi that is lovingly served at Mayur Thali on JM Road, in Pune. Maybe this signifies that all these cities have, in some way or the other, altered my definition of home and have broadened it to include the love that is served in the form of food in our incredibly diverse nation; and this being solely because I may have unlocked certain cockles of my heart when I unknowingly felt at home in the nooks and corners of these places that warmly took me in.

So, today I share with you my recipe for a dish that is so warm and wholesome that it could arguably be the number 1 comfort food for many of us; the Dal Khichdi. It took me many years to comprehend that the sick man’s khichdi had a yummy variation too. Here I share with you, the not so sick man’s version of the simplest Dal Khichdi. Whip up a plate of this for yourself, and feel at home!

Things you will need:

  1. Masoor dal- ½ cup (red split lentils)
  2. Basmati rice- ½ cup
  3. Turmeric powder- ½ teaspoon
  4. Chilli powder- less than ¼ teaspoon
  5. Onion- 1 medium sliced finely
  6. Garlic- 4-5 pods sliced finely
  7. Ghee- as you may deem fit
  8. Water- 4-5 cups
  9. Mustard seeds, dried red chillies- for tempering

 

How to go about it

  1. In a pressure cooker, add the rice and the dal (1:1 ratio) along with the turmeric powder, chilli powder, salt and one tbsp of ghee. Add 4-5 cups of water. (I prefer my khichdi nice and gooey) Let it cook on a low flame for about 5 whistles. After the whistles, keep the cooker aside and allow the pressure to drop on its own.
  2. In the meantime, in a pan, heat some cooking oil and temper the mustard seeds and the red chillies. Once tempered, sauté the onions and the garlic till they turn nice and brown and start giving out that wonderful garlicky aroma.
  3. Once the pressure has dropped, whisk the rice and dal well to achieve an even consistency. Add the tempered onions and garlic to the khichdi and mix well. Drizzle some ghee on your khichdi in the end and your khichdi is ready to be pounced on.

Paneer Butter Masala

Anjali Venugopal October 3, 2016 NO COMMENTS

Well, hello there! And this time, from the City of Dreams, Vienna.

It is uncanny how this city, until a few months back, was just a Billy Joel song I would listen to while my nose stayed buried under the mammoth client files on my desk, while burning away scores of bottles of midnight oil, in Mumbai or maybe, just another city that crept in to my must-visit list in an eternal attempt to relive life on the streets painted by a Woody Allen movie. However, today, as I sit by the window in our homey little apartment, at our round wooden dining table, watching the cold rain outside commemorating the impending arrival of Winter, realization dawns on me, that this is now my home.

As a person who, for all practical purposes, takes one day (sometimes, an hour) at a time, I cannot say that life turned out to be different from what I had expected. Possibly because, I seldom have expectations; out of anything. (And this happens to be the most treacherous area in my relationship with the Boy, who would, at this moment, have a fair idea of what he would be doing on the 22nd of April, 2028 and in all likelihood has a calendar entry in that regard. Talk about two ends of the same pole.) Hence, Vienna happened as a fortunate stroke of serendipity and that I feel, is the beauty of it all.

Anyway, getting down to business. Since I start working in only another week or two, I have had sufficient time on my hands to get down to doing two things I love the most; cooking and eating. I realize that it does take a fair bit of time for one, to get used to the ingredients that is available in a certain part of the world that one is not used to. I still haven’t gotten my head round the freshness and quality of the produce that is available in this part of the world; let it be fruits, vegetables, or even meat for that matter.

The Boy is possibly the biggest fan of Butter Chicken and has been after my life for a few years now, with an incessant request to cook him some Butter Chicken or Paneer Butter Masala. And north Indian cuisine, not being familiar territory, my procrastinating tendencies came to play. However, I gathered all courage and decided to work it all out in my head before I proceeded on to cooking a Paneer Butter Masala. There happens to be a paradox in this recipe and that will be divulged at the very end. So, here you go.

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Things you will need:

  1. Paneer- 250 gms
  2. Ripe tomatoes- 4 large
  3. Cashew nuts- 20 (soaked in water for 20 minutes)
  4. Chilly powder- 1 teaspoon
  5. Turmeric powder- ½ teaspoon
  6. Ginger garlic paste- 1 teaspoon
  7. Garam masala powder- 2 pinches
  8. Salt
  9. Cooking oil

 

How to go about it:

First step would be to make a smooth puree of the tomatoes. Keep that aside.

Next, make a smooth paste of the cashew nuts with a bit of water. The aim would be to achieve the consistency as shown in the picture below. Too much water, no fun.

img_20161003_132853Heat two table spoons of cooking oil in a wok. Add to it the ginger garlic paste and sauté till the oil becomes fragrant and the raw smell goes away.

Next you would want to add the tomato puree to the oil. Sauté for about five minutes and the proceed on to adding the chilly powder, turmeric powder, garam masala and salt.

This mixture needs to be sautéed till the water content disappears and and oil starts to ooze out from the sides. You would also need to ensure that the raw smell of the tomatoes has also gone away because that can be a total dampener to the end product. Take a look at the pictures below.

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Next step is to add the cashew paste to the masala mixture. Mix well, make sure there are no lumps formed, using a spoon.

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Add one glass of water to the mixture, mix thoroughly, keep the wok closed. The cashews cook really fast. Keep the wok closed for not more than five minutes.

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Open the lid, and make sure you arrive at the desired consistency for the gravy, right before you add the paneer pices to the gravy. Paneer takes no more than three minutes to cook and over cooked paneer resembles Nataraj erasers.

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Add the paneer pieces, cook for another three minutes. Take the wok off the stove.

I had plans of adding half a cup of cream to this. However, I did not, since I arrived at the desired taste, colour and consistency even without the cream. I used a teaspoon of cream to garnish the dish right before serving. img_20161003_133236

Kindly enjoy your Paneer Butter Masala with some hot Rotis, or garlic Naans. 😀

And here’s a snap of the same dish, fifteen minutes later. If this is not impetus enough for you guys to take a shot at this supremely easy recipe, I don’t know what is! :-/

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PS: I am pretty certain that you have by now figured what the paradox is. Yep, you are right, my Paneer ‘Butter’ Masala does not use any butter. 😐 Well, that cannot be a bad thing, especially if you have gone ahead and paid some fancy bucks at a fancy gym like we have. 😀