Though I have a busy schedule throughout the week, I feel there should always be time for delicious food and family meals. Inspite of having diverse activities in the day, I somehow think that eating together at the end of the day is important. Cooking is one of my favorite relaxation therapies and though it may make me tired physically after a long busy day, it definitely rejuvenates me mentally - even if I prepare a quick meal for just 3 of us. I believe that a busy life-style doesn't have anything to compromise on healthy and tasty food. Yes, my busy life too demands quick and easy meals but I can never give up on flavours. I'm personally not fond of bland foods, and have a tendency to spice up any dish by adding my own touches. Well, its just not about adding that extra "chilli" kick to spice it up, but more than that, the flavour is the most wonderful thing that I can anticipate in a dish.
Needless to say, the way we cook food nowadays have also changed dramatically. While growing up, I'm used to watching the home-made masalas ground and prepared fresh for everyday meals. Now its a world of ready-made spice powders and ready-made masala pastes. Yet, I strongly believe that adding a little bit of right spice and making some simple tweaks, can make any dish come out delicious.
I also have to admit that our tastes and likings also change quite a bit in these recent years. Atleast mine have changed a lot. There are several reasons for that - having the opportunity to indulge in different cuisines at restaurants or during travel, developing the interest to try new recipes etc. One of the startling reasons that I feel is, coming across different recipes for the same dish! This is something incredible that always throws me off! I'm sure we all of us have experienced this in our life... It could be through friends during a party, or through internet, blogs etc. Its amazing to learn how a neat little twist to our favorite recipe that we've loved and grew up with, brings a whole new flavor. This actually inspires me to try new flavors at home too and indirectly helps my taste-buds adapt to new flavors.
Well, this is one such dish that adds a whole new twist with paneer. During my childhood, Paneer was a delicacy. Mom used to make it rarely and whenever she made it, there were no leftovers. Though nowadays its no longer a delicacy in our household, I've only made and tasted Paneer with traditional north-indian spices and have never thought it will get along with coconut too. The first time I came across this recipe (I believe from a TV show), I was a little intimidated making it. But it didn't disappoint me and the dish came out incredibly tasty and very unique! The ingredients list may seem to be longer, but all of them are fairly common and are tossed in as a paste.
- Paneer - 25 cubes
- Onion - 1 medium
- Tomato Puree - 1/2 cup
- Cinnamon - 1 inch
- Cloves - 2
- Curd - 1/4 cup
- Chilli powder - 1 tsp
- Pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
- Raisins - a few
- Corriander leaves - a hand full
For the paste
- Cashews - 6 full (or 15 broken pieces)
- Shredded coconut - 2 tbsp
- Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
- Cardamom - 1
- Kasakasa - 1 tbsp (soaked in water for 10 mins)
- G.Chillies - 2 small
- Ginger - 1 inch
- Garlic - 3 medium pods
- Dry fry Cumin seeds, cardamom. Then add the shredded coconut and dry fry for a few more mins. Grind these together with g.chillies, ginger, garlic, cashews and soaked kasakasa to a smooth paste.
- Heat oil in a pan and season with cinnamon, cloves.
- Add chopped onions and fry for a few mins.
- Add tomato puree and all spice powders. Mix well and cover for 5 mins in medium heat.
- Add the ground paste and salt. Fry for 3 - 4 mins or cover for 5 more mins.
- Now add paneer cubes, raisins and curd. Stir well and boil for some more time.
- Finally add corriander leaves and remove from heat.
Serve hot with Rotis/Parathas.