Monday, August 10, 2009

Of Brother, Rakhi, and Paneer Nargisi

This year on Raksha bandhan, when my MIL called to wish us, I was already at work. And unaware till then of having missed that important day. Now, being the kind of person that I am, forgetting a day of festivities really bothers me. In my own defense, I wasn't always like fact, growing up in a posh South Delhi neighborhood, traditions were actually meant to be scoffed upon. But, since then, I've done a lot of growing up. Having established a home away from home, with a family of my own, skies and oceans separating me from my parents and bro, now I feel more and more drawn into the the traditional rituals of my childhood. And as an added incentive, I want to actually give my girls a taste of India as they grow up. So, as I drove home that evening, fuming and generally mad at myself and the the rest of the world, I decided to do something to right the wrong of forgetting. And what better way than to cook up a feast to celebrate?

The menu was a mish-mash of veggies available at that moment, but the end result was thoroughly satisfying. We all especially liked the impromptu Paneer Nargisi, the recipe for which was partly something that I might have read in a cookbook and partly my own experimentation. Like I said, this was a very hands on dish, so I dont have the exact measurements yet. I will definitely update this post the next time I make it to actual measures. Since Paneer is also my baby bro's favorite, I'll let him take take the credits for this post!  

Paneer Nargisi:

Paneer 200g cubed
Onions 1 small chopped fine
Tomatoes 1 large pureed
Ginger 1tsp, Grated fine
Green chilli 2-3 chopped
Cashews A fistful; chopped coarse with a bit of milk
Yogurt 3tsp
Water 1/2 cup
Spices: Cumin seeds 1/2 tsp
Salt 3/4 tsp/to taste
Red chilli powder 1/4 tsp/ to taste
Cloves 2-3
Green cardamom 4, coarsely ground
Bay leaf 1
Saffron A pinch, reserved in milk  

Garnish: Fresh cilantro and mint leaves- torn.

  1. Warm about 2tbsp of oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan and add the cumin seeds to it. 
  2. Once the seeds splutter, add the cloves, cardamom and bay leaf for another minute or so. 
  3. Add the ginger and green chillies and saute for a minute. 
  4. Then add chopped onion and saute till translucent. 
  5. Add the tomato puree now, with salt and red pepper powder and saute till the mixture separates from oil. 
  6. When the onion- tomato mix looks semi dry, add the cashew-milk paste to it and fry again. 
  7. After a couple of min, the mixture will start to ball up. 
  8. Now add the yogurt and the 1/2 cup water. 
  9. Bring it to a gentle boil, and then add paneer cubes and saffron. 
  10. Turn down the flame for another 5 min. 
  11. Garnish with fresh green cilantro and mint before serving. 

Notes: Not only did this paneer taste delicious when fresh, but it also kept very well for the next 2 days, refrigerated. Reheating it seemed to bring out the aromas of the spices even more; so in my opinion, his Paneer Nargisi just might turn out to be an ideal make ahead recipe.