Often during Ramadan or Ramzan mums (or dads) find it difficult to slave in the kitchen for long hours. They still want to make yummy food for the family. In the good old days, no matter what, mums would spend hours in the kitchen and make sure there is plenty of food for Iftar (evening meal). Mums of today have similar intentions (after all mums will be mums) but if possible, they take short cuts or look for quicker options. Today’s mums’ motto is maximum output with minimum time and energy, which is not a bad thing either. After all, you have other things in life apart from cooking. A lot of mums work as well.
I read recipe books (read books, magazines, websites) like one would read novels / comics. I don’t spare even supermarket magazines. Having said that, I have found some really good recipes in them. I find a recipe that interests me but by the time it is transformed into a dish, it goes through a lot of twists and turns unless it is baking. You can take liberties with bread as long as the basic structure remains the same and you know when to add in stuff.
The downside of adapting recipes is that sometimes, you get carried away and you end up with something delicious but you forget what you put in there. A few days later, your son says “mum, can you make the sambar (or whatever) exactly like last time?” and you are wondering “what was different?”. You can avoid such situations by noting down your twists and turns as you go along.
Okay, well, if you are wondering where this is taking you, “worry not” as you are going to end up in a yummy corner, well at least your tongue and tummy will, hopefully. Would like to share a yummy, tried and tested, yummy recipe with you. My paneer makhani is easy to make, can be made in a literally 5 minutes and has been a hit every time I have made it even at dinner parties. The bowl always gets “polished” as one of our friends would say. So, here it is, my easy-peasy paneer makhani.
Okay, now that you have seen my colourful pictures, if you are tempted to try, here is the recipe:
250 gms Paneer
200 gms full fat cream (double cream)
200 gms tomato puree
2-3 tbs butter (or oil, I have always used oil)
2 tbs Kasuri methi (crushed with your fingers)
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
2-3 green chillies
Everybody has their own way of doing things. So the order of things is up to you.
Dice paneer into cubes (or buy them diced from the store)
Slit green chillies.
If you are using fresh tomatoes, then puree them in a mixer / blender with red chilli powder, salt and kasuri methi. You can use store-bought as it easier to measure.
In a heavy bottom pan, heat butter / oil. If you are using better, add a tiny bit of oil as butter tends to burn when heated on its own.
Reduce the flame and add the tomato puree mix to the oil along with the slit green chillies. Be careful as it could splatter all over the place. (I try to hold a lid in my other hand with a tong to minimise the splash)
Bring it to the boil (make sure your pan is partially covered all the time unless you want “tomato art” on your tiles and cooker) and then simmer for about 4-5 minutes. YOu should see the oil oozing out of the the tomato mix.
In a bowl measure out the cream and spoon in the garam masala powder (try to make your own garam masala powder, it is so worth the effort).
When you tomato mix oozes oil, add the cream and garam masala, simmer further 2-3 minutes on medium to low flame. This dish is cooked on low flame mostly.
Then add the paneer cubes and cook for a minute. Your paneer makhani is ready to serve. Goes well with naan/phulka/parantha/zeera rice.
This recipe was the result of one my early expeditions on the internet. It was from a website called Indianfoodforever.com. It has been that long, I am not even sure if it is the original or I have tweaked it. However, I am so used to it now, I don’t measure out the ingredients, just “eyeball” them as we do. Also, I have used semi-skimmed milk instead of cream fand reduced the oil for a healthier version and it has not altered the taste that much.
So, try it out folks and do let me know.