I started the day by not wanting to cook anything. I had to finish a lot of other work and cooking usually means washing, chopping, stirring and then worst of all for me at least cleaning up the kitchen. I do not like to leave the kitchen messed up and that means not just loading the dishwasher but mopping the floor, washing the counter tops, cleaning the stove top etc. This may seem like a usual everyday chore and maybe not like a lot of work but today, it seemed like a drill. I was feeling lazy and wanted to find something in the freezer that I could quickly put in the microwave and the lunch would be ready. I opened the freezer and looking straight at me was a block of fresh paneer.
I do not know why I picked it up and thought maybe a quick stir-fry is not too bad, I already had some left over parathas. It would still be quick. Stir-fry tastes good with some onions and maybe peppers. I knew I had some sweet peppers. I took them all out and set those aside. It would just take a few minutes to put it all together and I thought I would make it just before we sit down for lunch.
Suddenly I remember that I have a sizzler plate that I have not used in a long time and maybe serving a simple meal on a sizzler plate will make it interesting. That was it! It was a mistake to bring that thought in my mind. Now it was there and when the food is interesting, I have to share it on my blog. One thing led to another and I was preparing a full-fledged meal. Paneer tikka ...no maybe paneer kadhai or maybe paneer and rice served on the sizzler plate...finally it was a combination of all of these. The sizzler plate that started it all went back into its shelf, or maybe the paneer started it all. I am not so sure now. What I know for sure is that I spent the morning cooking and then cleaning not to forget taking pictures and then downloading it to put it on the blog. That is a lot of work to do on a lazy day!
For the rice
1 cup rice
21/2 cups water
1 tsp cumin seeds, 1-2 bay leaves, a piece of cinnamon, a few cloves and small cardamom, 1tbsp raisins
Oil or ghee
For the sauce
1 large onion
1" piece of ginger
1 green chili
2 plump tomatoes
7-8 cashews soaked in water
3-4 black cardamom, 1 bayleaf
1 tsp turmeric, 1tsp red chili powder, 2 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp kasoori methi
1-2 tsp garam masla or any tikka masala
1tbsp honey or a teaspoon of sugar
salt to taste
1/2 tbsp cream (optional)
Oil as required for cooking
For Paneer tikka marinade
1 cup fresh paneer cubed
1/4 cup thick or strained yogurt/dahi
1 tbsp roasted gram flour/besan
1 tbsp ginger, garlic, green chilli paste
1-2 tsp juice of lemon
1-2 tsp red chili powder
1tsp cumin powder
1tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves
black salt and chaat masala for taste
1 tsp tikka masala
1 tbsp oil
Vegetables for adding in later
1 cup cubed sweet peppers or bell peppers (red, yellow and green)
1 medium sized onion cubed
Cilantro for garnishing
Mix all the ingredients for the marinade and add the paneer cubes to it. Keep aside for half and hour.
Prepare the rice
Take a little oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds, cinnamon, bay leaf, cardamon. Once the seeds splutter add the raisins, give it a quick stir and add the rice. Fry the rice for a few minutes before adding the water. Cook till done.
For the sauce, grind the onion, ginger and cashews. Heat oil in a pan and add the black cardamom and bay leaf and then the onion and ginger paste. Add salt and cook on medium heat till the raw smell goes away. Grind the tomatoes till then and add to the onion paste along with all the dry spices. Cook well till oil separates. Add the honey and cream if desired. Keep aside.
For tikkas heat some oil or ghee in a tava and cook the pieces turning sides. Add all the chopped vegetables to it and season with more chaat masala. I like to keep the vegetables on the crunchy side but they can be added earlier with the paneer for softer vegetables.
Now for final assembly layer the rice with a little bit of sauce topped with paneer tikka and vegetables. Serve garnished with cilantro and a side of cool cucumber raita.