Throw a challenge and you get a dish thrown back to you! This is what I always believed in and mostly sought to do. Since I had decided on the Spinach Dosa for the dinner this Saturday, I was sitting back to enjoy some time with the twins. Konda was out, cycling. And I love making Peddu say Pappa. The moment, he sees a baby on the TV or magazine, he will suddenly bursts out saying “Popppa” pouting his lips and saying it so sweetly, repeating it many times. He says in the same way “Kakka”. So when I get him to myself for a moment, I will ask him to repeat these words for me. Whether Peddu is scared of the Crow or not, we are not sure. But the moment he runs away from us to the other rooms, we call out saying ‘Peddu come fast, Kakka is going to come’. And you will see a tornado running past you! With his baby steps, still not fully settled on the ground, you will find him running on his toes and running fast towards you. If in chance, Chinnu is on the same space, they will clash and bang. And a big hue and cry ensues!
This was the situation, I found myself in, when out of the blue hubby dear asked if I knew to make Paneer Tikka. I said yes of course. He asked, then how come I never made till now. I replied, you never asked me till now. He was still skeptical about it. So I said ‘ask Amma if you have any doubts’. He teased if he should ask Amma for the recipe. Well I can’t blame him for that. He will not know of that period, when I used to prepare Paneer Tikka many times during a week. Remember my encounter with a dietician, who advised me to slip a Tomato Juice for 15 mins, the same person said, I could eat Paneer Tikka atleast 3 times a week. Since I don’t eat meat, I need to supplement protein this way. Boy, was I glad she suggested.
What followed for many months, were some glorious Paneer Tikka getting cooked. We didn’t have a tandoori oven, so I made these mostly on stove top. During that time, Maggi used to come out with a Tikka Masala cubes. All you need to do, was to add that masala to the marinade of curds, Mint and Coriander leaves and you have Paneer Tikka ready. I am not sure if that Masala is still available in market. During those short months when I was on a diet of Paneer Tikka, I used to enjoy my dinner as it was always accompanied with yummy Tikkas. The crispy Paneer cubes marinated and cooked in spicy sauce and then grilled over flame, tastes heaven!
Then there was a time, when I used to make my own Masala. That used to be a hit too. But its been a while since I made that masala and I didn’t have anything on hand to prepare Paneer Tikka now. But having said I can prepare, I didn’t want to go back on my word, I asked him to buy the store made one, as home made paneer will not hold up to be grilled. And whats more, I couldn’t find the skewers. What followed after I laid my hands on the paneer, was pure innovation. If I may say so. I didn’t have any Tandoori Masala nor a Chaat Masala, the regular stuffs that goes into a Tikka. All I had was Pav Bajji Masala, Chhole Masala, Amchur Powder and Garam Masals. Well what more could I ask for, I thought and set about making it.
What turned out, was a yummy delicious Paneer Tikka, infact better than what I remembered from my younger age! This is not the traditional masala to use for a Tikka, but if you are for a tikka that did taste great, then go ahead and check out!
Paneer – 500 gms
Curds / Yogurt, thick – 100 gms, abt 4 medium ladleful
Pav Bajji Masala – 1 tsp
Chhole Masala – 1 tsp
Garam Masala – 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Amchur Powder – 1/2 tsp
Kasturi Methi – 1/2 tsp
Oil for cooking – 2 tsp
Oil for grilling – 1 tbsp
Method to prepare:
Cube the paneer into 4″ squares with 2″ width. Chop the onions vertical, remove the bulb in middle and separate each layer. Cube the tomatoes into 4 halves, scoop out the pulp from inside. You can use that for any gravy that you are preparing on the side.
Hung the curds for about 10 to 15 mins, so that whey comes out. In a bowl, take the curds and mix all the masalas together.
Once the paneer is cubed, marinate in the curds for about an hour, 30 mins is also fine.
Heat a non-stick pan, and cook the paneer with the marinade. Top a spoon of oil over it.If you near the stove, you can cook it on high, else simmer for a while, until the moist evaporates and the paneer gets coated with the masala.
Since I didn’t have the skewers, I thought of using the toothpick, but I had those fancy types which looked fit to be melted. So I ended up using the tong I use for frying appalam.
Arrange the Tomato, Onion slices alternating with paneer cubes. Hold these between the tong, pour oil over it, it will slide down anyway. Light the flame, and keep over it. Be sure to be away from the fire, as the tomato and onion will catch fire as oil is poured over it.
Once you find all the tomatoes, onions and paneer are little burnt, remove and serve arranged as a regular order.
If you find holding these 5 pieces little difficult together, while grilling them, you can grill these separately, but then the paneer will not get the burnt flavour and juices from tomatoes.
Serve with lemon squeezed onions slices.
All the while long, I had Konda popping in to ask if it was ready. Whenever I prepare something new and that she likes, she will ask me “Yetallamma neku eedi cheaseki tellusu’. I will reply ‘Attanne tellusu ra’. This was no different! And she loved every bit of it!
Paneer Tikka ~ Tandoori less and Instant!