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Paneer Masala Toast

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I am in the last few weeks of pregnancy. In the home stretch. So far everything has been same as first pregnancy.

Except that since I am at home ( and pregnant and writing  food blog), I am hungry. A lot. All the time.

After breakfast. After lunch. And mostly immediately after dinner. Also especially around 4:00 pm.

I feel like a cow, grazing all day long.

Fed up with constantly raiding the fridge, I decided to make something more filling and scrumptious so that I could eat it again.

Paneer masala toast was born out of that necessity.

Hot buttered toast, spicy paneer spread on it and topped with cool crunchy tomatoes.

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I ate one. And decided to save one for Varun as he loves paneer. But it was so good that I made myself another one half an hour later. Gobbled it all up. Cleared it all up so there was no trace of it left.

I felt so bad ( for being a bad parent and not sharing it with Varun) and yet so good.

I have to make it again. In a bigger batch. And share with family. Because thats what home cooking and parenting is all about. Right? Right?

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Paneer Masala Toast Recipe

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup fresh paneer crumbled ( use tofu instead of paneer)
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 serrano chili finely diced
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • Pinch of Cumin powder, Corriander powder
  • Handful of cilantro leaves finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 slices of whole grain bread
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon pesto sauce
  • 2-4 slices of tomato

1. Heat oil in a skillet. Add cumin seeds once heated. As the seeds sizzle, add the chillies and red onion. Let the onion cook for a minute or so taking care not to burn it.

2. Add the spice powder and paneer. Add salt. Mix well.

3. Add cilantro leaves and let cook for another minute or so till the paneer is cooked. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Remove and keep aside in a bowl.

4. In the same skillet, heat tablespoon of butter. Grill bread slices in the buttered skillet. Flipping over once browned taking care not to char it.

5. Once the bread is grilled, spoon pesto sauce on one of the bread slices. Layer the paneer masala filling. Lay the tomato slices on top.

Cover with the other grilled bread. Press down with a spatula.

6. Remove from the skillet and cut in half.

Serve warm with ketchup and hot tea!

The Daring Cooks May Challenge: En Croute Paneer Puffs

Paneer Puffs

You remember the puff pastry dough that I shared last week? I made it for Daring cooks May challenge.  Don’t Make Me Call My Flying Monkeys , our hostess for May challenge, encouraged us to wrap food in pastry dough and then bake it.

Inspirations were shared of Beef Wellington, stuffed Portobello mushroom wrapped in pastry dough and even sausage pigs in blanket. I stuck to simple favorite of  paneer puffs. Homemade paneer was perfect filling for the crispy crunchy outer covering. They were lightly spiced with onions, chilies and had a pesto base. They would taste wonderful with any other seasoning of choice.

Homemade paneer

I filled the pastry with as much paneer as they could hold which caused some tears as I folded the puff over. But I liked the higher paneer to wrapping ratio!

Puffs to be filled

Be warned the puffs are filling – they are prefect as a weekend snack. Make them smaller for bite sized appetizer. We skipped dinner that evening.

Puffs Filled

This is my approximate recipe as most ingredients were eye-balled and adjusted for taste. A dash of cumin powder, some chili powder, squeeze of lemon. Store bought puff pastry sheets and paneer or even tofu can be easily used in this recipe. Just take care to thaw it per directions on the package before use.

Paneer Puffs Recipe

  • Puff pastry sheets thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups paneer,  thawed and crumbled ( if store-bought)
  • 1/2 cup – red onion finely chopped
  • 1 green chili, finely diced
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons sun dried tomatoes, finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin  powder
  • Salt – to taste
  • A dash – black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon – lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup store bough pesto

1. Mix all the ingredients from red onions to lemon juice with paneer. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings per taste. Set aside in a bowl.

2.Pre-heat the oven to 425 F

3.Start with one pastry sheet and unfold it ( or roll out your homemade dough about 1/2 cm thick). Cut it into  squares depending on how big you want the snack to be.

4. Spread a bit of pesto on the dough. Fill with paneer mix. Fold over leaving some room for edges.

Seal  the edges with a fork so that the edges stick and don’t unfold during baking.

5. Bake for 12 -15 minutes, till golden  brown.

Serve warm with ketchup or mint chutney.

Paneer in Tender Coconut Gravy

Ready to eat paneer in tender coconut

We had a fantastic weekend – the kind that makes you want to rewind to Friday night all over again. Sure, even on a mundane Monday I want to rewind to Friday night so I can make weekend special and different and not so routine. But today, after a weekend with friends and family, get-togethers, clinks of wine glasses, laughter and teasing, I want to savor it even more.

Friday night started with Varun’s favorite kaka and mavshi joining us for dinner. He was so over-joyed that he didn’t sleep till past midnight. On Saturday, after dinner and paan,  he went over to Sushil- Athika’s house with Krish bhaiyaa and Bhavya didi to sleep but came back after 15 mins as he missed his mama! Same story on Sunday night where post dinner with friends, he wanted to go home with Aarvin and told me to stay at home while he goes out. Made my heart skip a beat. He is growing fast!

Anyways, back to Saturday night dinner. Inspired by our Kolkata trip, I wanted to make something Bengali for Sushil- Athika. An accomplished cook and baker, Athika loves food. We love what she makes. Her recipes are so detailed that her husband, a novice, followed them to the T and came up with finger licking curries for her baby shower. Single handedly for 30 odd people on first attempt. Impressive!

Paneer in Tender coconut

I decided to make a vegetarian version of Daab Chingri or prawns in tender coconut shell. Soft paneer and red bell pepper for the color and crunch. Cooked with tender coconut meat and then steamed to a delicate perfection in the shell. Traditionally the curry is cooked in the shell in a water bath for an hour or so. But I decided to fake it and made the curry in the pan and then steamed it in water bath to let the subtle tender coconut taste seep through.

Paneer and tender coconut gravy

The subtle flavor of tender coconut is very refreshing. The texture and the aroma is a change from the typical Indian curries that are heavy with either cream or spices. Its smooth and almost sweet – a perfect base for fresh paneer , tofu and any other vegetables that you choose.

The presentation in green shell adds to the drama and makes an amateur fake a professional finish! If you really want to impress someone with least amount of effort this is THE perfect recipe. Try it for a special night or to for a dinner party or just to perk up a wintry weekend into a tropical delight! I am dying to make this again with prawns!

Paneer in Tender coconut shells being simmered in water bath

Paneer in Tender Coconut Gravy

  • 2 green tender coconuts – water ( 1 1/2 cups water) and flesh ( 1/4 cup) removed
  • 2 tablespoon mustard oil + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil ( for sautéing red bell pepper)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 large bayleaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 -7 green cardamoms
  • 1 green chilli finely sliced
  • 3- 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 inch knob of ginger root , peeled and then minced.
  • 3 small onions finely chopped
  • 300 – 400 grams paneer  or tofu
  • 1 bell pepper diced
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

For the water bath

  • A large pot to hold both the coconut shells
  • 4 cups water

1. Carefully carve the top of tender coconut with a large enough opening so that you can fill the gravy back in. Also try to carve in a single piece and retain the head piece so it can be used as a lid while the gravy simmers.

Save the water in a bowl and then scoop out the meat with a spoon. Keep the water and the meat aside.

2. Heat both oils together ( vegetable oils cuts the bitterness of mustard oil). Once heated, add the mustard seeds, bayleaf, cinnamon stick , garlic and chopped green chilies. Let them sizzle and then add the onions. Fry the onions for a few minutes with the rest of the spice mixture till they are well cooked but not browned.

3. Take this onion spice mixture and remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Blend it smooth with coconut meat and ginger root along with a cup of coconut water.

4. Add oil in the same pan and sauté the red bell pepper till they are partially cooked. Add the paneer and sauté it for about half a minute. Then add the pureed coconut mix to the pan. Add salt, a bit of black pepper and cinnamon stick and bay leaf that was removed before pureeing. Let simmer for couple of minutes. If its too thick add some more coconut water to thin it out. Taste for seasonings and adjust per taste.

5. Put the water bath on low heat. Take the gravy and fill it in the empty coconut shells carefully. Place the shells in the pot. Cover with lid and let it cook for about an hour.

The gravy stays warm in the coconut shells even after you take it off the heat. Serve with warm rice or pilaf.

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