Paneer with Shrimp in a Rich Tomato Sauce

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This dish is special to me since it was one of those first few recipes I successfully managed to make during my just-married-and-don’t-know-how-to-make-a-thing days. I remember I used to go through these two big, thick Indian cookbooks that my husband had bought for himself during his bachelor days, frantically trying to find some easy dish to make each day. Save for some kabab recipes, those books did not have anything that interested me. I would finally end up in front of the laptop or my little book full of recipes (that I had copied from my mom’s trusted old recipe book), and make something from one of those.  Interestingly, I found this paneer – shrimp recipe in a Chinese cookbook, a little odd, considering that almost all the ingredients are very Indian.

Now, I love paneer, I can eat anything made with it. I also like shrimp, but paneer and shrimp together?…I had my doubts, but went ahead with  it since I had everything on hand. And I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the soft paneer and the succulent shrimp combo works. It is mildly spiced, and although similar to butter chicken/ paneer butter masala, it uses yogurt in the sauce making it a tad bit tangy. The original recipe also calls for the addition of dry mango powder which I have never used, and a whole stick (???) of butter. I use only about 3 tbsp. here, but you can just substitute it with oil. I also add more garlic and chili powder because we like it spicy.

We used to make it quite often but along the years I kind of forgot about this dish until my husband last week, out of the blue, asked me if I could make this. And of course, being the good wife that I am (ahem!), I made it for him the next day….:-)

 

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Paneer with Shrimp in a Rich Tomato Sauce

Recipe adapted from Wok & Stir Fry, by Linda Doeser, slightly altered

Ingredients:

12 jumbo shrimp

6 ounces paneer (Indian cheese)

2 tbsp tomato paste

1/4 cup plain yogurt

11/2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground coriander

3 -4  tbsp butter

1 tbsp corn oil

3 fresh green chilies, chopped

1/2 tsp kasuri methi

2/3 cup light cream or half and half

Cilantro for garnish

Method:

Shell the shrimp and cube the paneer.

Combine the tomato paste, yogurt, garam masala, chili powder, garlic, salt and coriander in a mixing bowl and set aside.

Melt the butter with the oil in a wok. Lower the heat slightly and stir fry the paneer and shrimp for about 2 mins. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside.

Pour the spice mixture into the butter and oil left in the pan and stir fry for about 1 min.

Add the paneer, shrimp and kasuri methi, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are cooked through.

Add the fresh chilies and pour in the cream. Heat for about 2 mins. Garnish with cilantro and serve..

 

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Tomato Rice Croquettes

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Yesterday’s lunch, Today’s snack! That is the story of these tasty little bites. They are simply tomato rice formed into oblong croquettes, breaded and deep fried. They make excellent little party appetizers or a kid-friendly quick snack.

I made this simple but yummy tomato rice (and later, croquettes) for my little guy who is completely in his ‘ terrible twos’ phase. One day he likes to eat, the next day he doesn’t even want to look at his plate, which is of course, frustrating for me. He loves his fruits, but veggies…that’s another story. He is an expert at picking apart carrots, beans and broccoli from his food, which he then neatly shoves into a corner of his high chair tray. So now I have resorted to pureeing the veggies and adding that to his favorite foods like pasta, idly and pancakes, which seems to be working, at least for now. For example, I sauté and puree beetroot/ carrots and add it to my dosa and idly batter, and he loves eating the colorful dosas and idlys.

Although I prefer my rice on the fluffier side, since I was making it for my toddler, I made it slightly mushy by adding more water than required, which helped in forming the rice into croquettes easily.

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Tomato Rice

Ingredients:

1 cup Basmati rice, rinsed and soaked in water for 10 mins

2 large tomatoes, diced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/4 cup onion, thinly sliced

1 chicken bullion cube

1 tbsp. tomato ketchup

1/4 cup green peas (optional)

21/2 cups water

Oil and salt as needed

Method:

Drain the rice and keep aside.

Heat oil in a pan. Add the onion and sauté till it becomes soft. Add in the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the chicken cube and the tomatoes and mix well. Add the green peas, if using. Sauté till the tomato is well cooked and oil begins to separate. Add the ketchup. Check for salt – since the chicken cube has salt in it, be careful while adding more. Add the drained rice to the tomato mixture and mix well. Pour in the water, mix until combined and cook on medium-low heat until the rice is done. Serve hot.

Croquettes

Ingredients:

Tomato rice

1 egg, beaten

1 cup bread crumbs

Oil, for frying

Method:

Slightly mash and form the tomato rice into oblong croquettes. Dip them in the beaten egg, and roll in the bread crumbs. Deep fry. Serve hot.

 

 

Coconut and Onion Ghee Rice

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Busy (read lazy) days call for easy recipes. And for me that means something I don’t have to think too much about…just get the ingredients- the fewer the better- and start cooking. This simple ghee rice is one of those recipes- flavorful, easy to make, and pairs well with spicy curries. Luckily I had some leftover Fish Molly I had made the previous day, which proved the perfect accompaniment to this ghee rice. YUM!

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Coconut and Onion Ghee Rice

Ingredients:

11/2 cups Basmati rice

3 cups water

salt to taste

3 tbsp. ghee

3 cloves, 1″ cinnamon, 2 cardamoms

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional)

Method:

Wash and clean the rice. Cook the rice in a rice cooker with 3 cups of water and enough salt. (I always spray a bit of non-stick cooking oil to prevent the rice from sticking together.)

Add a tbsp of ghee to the pan and throw in the shredded coconut. Sauté on medium heat till it turns golden. Take it off the pan and keep aside. Add more ghee to the pan and add the cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom. Add the onions and cook until caramelized. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the cooked rice. Mix well. Add the coconut and chopped cilantro and sprinkle a little ghee on top. Mix everything until well combined. Garnish and serve hot.

 

Moroccan Harira — Healthy and Satisfying

 

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Harira is a delicious, protein-packed Moroccan soup usually served during the month of Ramadan to  break the fast and also during other celebrations. It is an excellent appetizer for parties and can also be used as a healthy and filling meal.

The soup, chock-full of tomatoes, chicken, chickpeas and lentils is gently simmered for a good hour and a half in fragrant spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and turmeric. I also add a generous amount of chopped ginger and garlic. The original recipe calls for the addition of long grained rice, which I am yet to try and chicken thighs, instead of which I use chicken breasts.

Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients and the cooking time. It is very easy to make and totally worth it. You know it is good when your two year-old toddler licks his bowl clean…:)

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Moroccan Harira

Original recipe by Emeril Lagasse , slightly altered. Find his recipe here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/harira-moroccan-chickpea-stew-with-chicken-and-lentils-recipe.html

Ingredients:

1/4 pound dried chickpeas

3 tbsp olive oil

11/2 pounds boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 cup diced onions

1/2 cup diced celery

1 tsp finely chopped ginger

1 tsp finely chopped garlic

2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with their juices

11/2 quarts rich chicken stock

1/4 pound dried green lentils

1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro

2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Method:

Soak the chickpeas overnight in cold water. Rinse well, drain and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat. Season the chicken pieces with 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper. Add the chicken in batches, and cook until well browned. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside. Add the onions and celery and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic. Add the turmeric, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Return the chicken to the pan and add the tomatoes and their juices, stirring well. Stir in the chicken stock, lentils and chickpeas and bring to a boil. Adjust the salt. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook at a gentle simmer for an hour and a half.

Remove the lid, add the cilantro, parsley and lemon juice and cook, covered for 5 minutes.

Ladle into soup bowls and enjoy.