My love for paneer has doubled after I recently discovered that my toddler loves it too! As much as I do! Many a time, when he returns home after his evening jaunts, Hari comes up to me and asks for “paneen”! Whenever we are at a restaurant as soon as he spots a steward, he asks for “paneen”! The funny part here is that it mostly happens when we are at an Italian restaurant!
Subsequently when we were at an Indian restaurant and Hari asked the chef for pizza, and I told him that he would get paneen here, the smile on his face lit up our evening! And seeing the way he ate his piece of paneer, bite after bite, judging and assimilating the taste of the spices accompanied by exuberant facial expressions, his father declared jestfully “henceforth, we will dine only at Indian restaurants”!
Although Hari likes to eat “noonles” (noodles) at a Chinese restaurant and pizza at our favourite Italian restaurant, paneer wins hands down as his favourite food outside and at home! And I find myself making paneer much more than before to please my very difficult, picky and choosy 2 1/2 year old eater!
This recipe actually comes from my mother! When she came to stay with us when I was expecting Hari, she rustled this up one evening and I was so pleased with its simple yet extraordinary taste, that I immediately jotted down the recipe. My mother is a very instinctive cook and rustles up dishes from what is available on hand and I had to write it for posterity before it got erased from her memory!
Coated with a fresh paste of ground mint leaves and other spices, marinated & grilled in the oven, this dish not only looks gorgeous but also tastes brilliant with just the right mix of all the spices. This is great served as a starter for a party and can also be part of a main course depending on what’s there to go with it. It can also go into your kids tiffin box, served this way or used as a stuffing between two slices of bread to become a sandwich or put inside a roti or a tortilla to become a wrap. A salad with this kind of a sandwich or a wrap makes this a complete meal!
Pudina Paneer Tikka/ Minty Green Paneer Cheese Tikka Recipe
You can replace the paneer with vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli or potato!
500 gm (1 lb) paneer
2 tomatoes, cut into thick rings
2 bell peppers, cut into thick squares
50 gm (1 cup) pudina, cleaned
25 gm (1/2 cup) fresh coriander or cilantro, cleaned
1 green chili (or more if you want it spicy)
2 tsp fresh ginger
1 1/2 tsp black salt (kala namak) or regular salt or to taste
225 gm (1 cup) yogurt, drained to get 1/2 a cup
1 tsp crumbled kasuri methi (optional)
1 tsp chaat masala (optional)
Cut the paneer into 1 1/2” by 2” pieces or the size that you want and keep aside.
In a blender or food processor, assemble the pudina, cilantro, green chili, ginger, black salt and yogurt and blend to a fine paste without using any water.
Put in the optional kasuri methi into the ground paste if desired.
Coat all the cut paneer and vegetable pieces with the prepared paste and marinate for an hour or two in the refrigerator. This makes the paneer absorb the flavours of the ground paste.
Arrange all the paneer and vegetable pieces in a tray and grill in an oven at 200 C/ 400 F for about 20 to 25 minutes, turning the pieces once in between.
Sprinkle the optional chaat masala over the paneer and serve hot or at room temperature.