For Indians, vegetarian Indians of which there are many, paneer is a big part of the diet. And like many things, naans or samosas for instance, paneer is also rarely made at home. It is just much simpler buying it rather than making it. Even though it is the simplest thing to make, getting it to be a solid block requires some work.
When I moved to Holland some thousand years ago, paneer was nowhere to be found. Back then I was too lazy to prepare it myself and complained about not finding it endlessly. Seriously I couldn’t understand why the Indian stores had the audacity not to carry it.
I then forgot all about it, seeing I have low attention span! Until I had my Indian store guy proudly announce one day (Indian stores have the wonderful habit of offering you anything new in their stores or a product, they think you might want!) that paneer had arrived. I did a double take and immediately bought some only to be hugely disappointed. This was paneer alright but hardly the creamy fresh variety you can buy in India. Over time I have learned not to compare every product I buy because, well, that is just not realistic. And I tend to make my own more and more anyway.
So when I come to India I tend to binge eat paneer. In every shape and form possible.
This leads me to my brother-in-law. Which is an odd bridge to make but then I am nothing if not odd! It is, what people tell me, that makes me interesting. Ehm. 🙂
My brother-in-law namely Inderjit, (because writing brother-in-law is so tedious everytime!) is one of two, the most hard working people I know. He is a workaholic and has the most amazing sense of community feeling. He works 20 hours a day at his day job and then spends the rest of the time beautifying his neighborhood and is the president of his local community club. As much as my sister complains he spends no time at home, I have to applaud him for all that he does to make everyone come together. If there is a huge cricket match, he’ll have screens put up and food arranged. If it is a festival, he will organize parties to celebrate it. He has done wonders for the roads, security and general well being of this small community. When does he sleep? He doesn’t!
So whenever, I visit his club, I am not only royalty, being associated with a man who does so much for others but am always treated to the most delicious varieties in which paneer can be prepared.
This post as you may have guessed is about paneer. And celebrates how delicious it is. It also celebrates how important it is to tell the people who do so much for others, what an important job they do everyday and how much we appreciate them for it.
This paneer is first marinated in yummy spices and wrapped in polenta and then baked to perfect scrumptious-ness. I have never quite eaten it this day and am glad I tried it because it really did turn out quite delicious.
- Ingredients for Marinade
- 1 cup yogurt
- 2 tbsps ginger garlic paste
- 1½ tsp kashmiri red chili powder
- ½ tsp turmeric powder/haldi
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- ½ tsp garam masala powder
- 1 tsp dry mango powder
- 1 tsp chaat masala
- juice of half lemon
- 1 tsp oil
- rock salt or black salt
- 500 grams paneer, cut in flat slices
- Ingredients for the Polenta Dough
- 25 ml milk, lukewarm
- 3 grams dry active yeast
- 50 grams cooked polenta
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 40 grams butter
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 150 grams all purpose flour
- 3 grams baking powder
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 3-4 green chillies, chopped
- 2 tbsps cumin seeds
- 1 egg, beaten
- To prepare the marinade, in a large bowl, take the curd and whisk it till it becomes smooth. Add the ginger garlic paste and all the dry spices including the salt.
- Mix well.
- Add oil at this stage and mix well again. Add the paneer to the marinade. Marinate for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- To make the polenta dough. Cook the polenta according to instructions on your polenta pack. Add the butter and olive oil with red chilli powder and the chopped green chillies. Set aside and let cool completely.
- In a bowl mix the yeast with the lukewarm milk, till it bubbles a bit. Should take around five minutes.
- In a separate bowl mix the flour, the baking powder, sugar, salt. To this mix add the polenta mix and the yeast. Knead well with your hands till it comes together and form a ball. Wrap in clingfilm and let it rest in the refrigerator for an hour.
- After an hour, take the dough out and divide roughly in four parts. Roll out each part one at a time. Now cut out strips from your rolled out dough. Around an inch thick. Place a piece of marinated paneer at one end and wrap all around. Its almost like mummifying your paneer!
- Stick a wooden skewer at each end and place on your baking tray. Repeat till you run out of paneer.
- Brush each polenta wrapped paneer piece with egg wash and liberally sprinkle with cumin seeds on all sides. (I also sprinkled additional red chilli powder but you don't have to.)
- Bake for 30 minutes or till the polenta wrapped paneer is nice and brown. Flip them after 15 minutes.
- Serve with spicy cilantro chutney.