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Recipe: 15-Minute Achaari Paneer

Paneer is a bit of a bad word in my home.

Paneer gets shoved to vegetarians wherever they go — shaadis, buffet meals, planes, pujas, festivals, social dinners…

o not much paneer is cooked for my family, when we are together, except sometimes a traditional recipe from my grandmom or when we barbecue.

But you gotta serve paneer to guests. My 15-Minute Achaari Paneer is a pretty quick recipe that will make visitors to your home particularly happy.

Allot about 10 minutes, of the 15 minutes time required to make this dish, for frying up the paneer — naked-white, unfried paneer is not a thing in my family; paneer has to always be delicately roasted before it is added to a gravy or used in a dish.

Achaari Paneer

Ingredients

  • 500 gm paneer, cut into 1-inch by ½- inch rectangles
  • 2 tsp oil for the baghar or tadka or seasoning + oil to fry the Paneer
  • 1 tsp rai or mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp hing or asafoetida
  • 1 tsp kalonji or nigella seeds
  • 3-4 tbsp Mother’s mango pickle
  • 1-2 tsp kasuri methi or dried fenugreek leaves
  • Salt to taste, very little may be required, if at all, because the pickle has salt
  • Sliced onions, for serving

Method

  • In a non-stick frying pan, over low heat, fry the paneer pieces in 2-3 tbsp oil on all sides, till they are pinkish.
    You could consider using two frying pans, simultaneously, on two burners, so the frying process goes faster.
    If your burner heat is not low enough, and the paneer is beginning to burn, place a tava under the frying pan to add an extra buffer.
    When the paneer pieces are fried pat off any extra oil with a paper towel.
    Keep aside.
  • In a heavy-bottomed saucepan or kadhai, heat the oil for the tadka or seasoning over medium heat and add the rai, hing and kalonji.
    Let the tadka splutter for about a minute.
    Then add the paneer pieces and mix.
    Start adding the pickle, 1 tbsp at a time, toss the paneer pieces lightly to mix in the pickle and taste and add then add more pickle if required and repeat the mixing process.
    Add salt, only if needed.
  • Add the kasuri methi, mix and serve along with sliced onions, with garam rotis, rice-dal or have as a snack or starter.

Zelda’s Note: I prefer Mother’s mango pickle, but any pickle will do, even a mixed vegetable one.
Choose to purchase paneer that is neither too firm and rubbery nor too soft.
Vegans could make this recipe using tofu.
Paneer haters can make achaari alu using 4-5 large alus, peeled and chopped, that have been slowly pan fried.
r they could try making achaari prawns. The prawns don’t need to be fried beforehand.
After the tadka of rai, hing and kalonji, add one onion, chopped, and 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic and then add 500 gm prawns that have been deveined, deshelled and tailed, and fry a bit and then add the pickle.

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