Roasted, Spiced Vegetables with Paneer

Roasted vegetables have always been a a standby in our house. Sunny, Mediterranean vegetables drenched in good olive oil and roasted, sometimes with chick peas, sometimes with cubes of squeaky halloumi and occasionally when feeling decadent, with both.

Sometimes however we need a change. I fancied something spicy, something curryish. Not hard to make, but takes a little care and attention. So why not roast a curry. Just chop everything, add the spices and pop in the oven while I can get on with other things.

The result was amazing. From now on I am going to roast all my curries. Well they do say people get lazier as they get older….

This makes enough for 4-6 people depending on how much bread you have. Also works really well the next day for lunch when all the flavours have deepened overnight. The paneer is optional. Leave it out for a vegan version.

1 onion – diced
2 cloves garlic – sliced
2-3 small potatoes – peeled and diced
1 red or green pepper – diced
1 courgette – diced
1x400g tin chick peas
3 ripe tomatoes – diced
250g paneer – diced
1 large whole chili – cut a slit in the side
1 teaspoon each of whole cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, fennel seeds, black onion seeds
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon amchoor (if you can’t get amchoor use a splash of lemon juice)
sunflower oil
mustard oil
fresh coriander leaves – roughly chopped

Put the oven on to 200C

Take a large baking tray and put the vegetables, chick peas and spices in. Add a splash of each of the oils then gently mix with your hands to get everything coated in the oil and spices.

Pop in the oven for 25 minutes, turn occasionally. Add the paneer if using and return to the oven for another 15 minutes.

Take out of the oven, throw a handful of chopped coriander leaves over and serve with chutney, pickle, raita and breads. Leave the chili in the tray but you don’t have to eat it. It’s just there to add a little warmth to the dish.

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Roasted, Spiced Broccoli with Paneer

I’ve been reading lately about the deliciousness of roasted cauliflower – just a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, half an hour in a hot oven and out pops a delicious, charred side dish.

I wondered if I could do something similar with cauliflower’s green cousin, broccoli. To make it more interesting I added some warm spices and some cubes of paneer. Served with grilled nan and natural yogurt, this makes for a very easy supper.

Serves 2 to 3 depending on greed

1 large head of broccoli – cut into florets
150g – 200g paneer – cubed
1 onion – cut into 1/8ths
100ml light olive oil
juice of a lime
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala
¼ teaspoon chili powder – more if you like it hotter
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

Put the oven on to 200C or 180C with the fan

Mix the olive oil, lime juice, salt and spices in a large bowl then add the onion, broccoli and paneer. Mix well to ensure everything is coated in the spiced oil.
When the oven is hot, tip everything into an oven proof dish and put in the oven for 25-30 minutes giving it a quite stir around every 5-10 minutes to prevent the broccoli from burning.

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Cucamelons

The wonderful farmers at Riverford sent me a sample of cucamelons. These odd little grape sized fruits grow on a vine and have lovely, if somewhat tough, watermelon-like skins.

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I tried one raw. Hmm. Not great A bit like a cucumber only blander. Most articles I googled suggest the cucamelon has a sour hint, a little like lime. I couldn’t taste that. They seemed to taste of very little and those tough skins are quite unappealing. So, what is the best thing to do with bland food….make a curry. Or to be more precise, make an accompaniment to a curry.

I opted for a spiced salad/chutney.

6-8 cucamelons – chopped into small chunks
1 tablespoon red onion – finely chopped
1 red chili – very finely chopped
3-4 cardamon pods – take out the seeds and crush
a pinch of cumin seeds – crushed
juice of half a lime
salt to taste
pinch sugar
2-3 tablespoons fresh coriander – choppped
small glug oil

Place everything in a bowl. Mix and leave for half an hour or more for the flavours to develop. If you leave it overnight the cucamelon skins do soften a little. Serve with popadums

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or with a spinach, chick pea and paneer curry with bread

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Verdict. I still love Riverford, but cucamelons I can happily live without. Have you tried them? What did you think?

Paneer with Rice and Peas

Another Madhur Jaffery classic dish. Her dishes really are foolproof provide you read them through beforehand. You can eat this on its own with chutneys and pickles or with a sag side dish.

150g-200g pack of paneer – cubed
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 bay leaves
5 cardamom pods
½ stick cinnamon
Basmati rice – the amount you use depends on how many people you are feeding
Frozen peas – again, adjust the amount depending on the numbers you are feeding
1 green chili – finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin

Heat the oil in a large saucepan – one with a lid – over a medium flame.

Fry the paneer until brown. This happens quickly and watch out as the paneer spits hot fat onto you and your clothes. Remove the browned paneer cubes with a slotted spoon and put to one side.

Keep the pan over the heat and add a little more oil if required. Throw in the cinnamon, cardamon pods and bay leaves. Fry for 2-3 seconds then add the rice. Stir well to ensure the rice gets coated with the oil. Now add the peas, chili, salt and cumin. Add enough water to cover the rice and peas by about a centimetre and bring to the boil. Boil rapidly for 5 minutes until most of the water is absorbed. Place the paneer on the rice, cover and switch off the heat. Leave with the lid on for about 20 minutes until all the water is absorbed.

Remove the bay leaves, cardamom pods and cinnamon. They usually float on top of the water so should be easy to find. Mix well and serve while hot.

Gobi Paneer

Cauliflower seems to be the perfect ingredient for making curry. I added paneer here to make it a little more interesting. Serve with Bhatura or other Indian bread, natural yogurt and spicey mango chutney.

2-3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 head of cauliflower – chopped into rough chunks
1-2 tablespoons root ginger – finely chopped
200g or so of paneer – cubed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder (more if you like it a bit hotter)
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon gorund coriander
½ teaspoon salt
bunch (about 50-90g) of fresh coriander (chopped)

Take a large frying pan that has a lid.

Heat the oil then add the cauliflower and fry until it starts to brown. Add the ginger and spices and fry 2-3 minutes longer. Now add the paneer and salt and give it a good stir. I like my cauliflower crunchy in most things, but in this it needs to be soft I think so take about 50-100ml water. Add to the pan and cover with the lid. Cook this way for 5 minutes. Remobve the lid, stir in the fresh coriander and serve hot.

Paneer Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala – the nation’s favourite. Many years ago it used to be one the favourites in my house. Then my youngest went veggie but missed the flavours of a good masala sauce. The problem with takeaways, and believe me there a lot of them round my way, is the sauce is too red as in unnaturally so, or it contains nuts. It would seem many of the restaurants buy in sauces prepared off site and so are unable to make the sauce to your liking. So after a few experiments I think I have come up with something that is pretty good and certainly goes down well but doubt it is authentic.

I apologise for the picture quality. It was late and everyone was hungry.

3-4 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 large onion – finely chopped
1 green chili – finely chopped (seeds removed if you don’t want it too hot)
1cm piece of ginger – finely chopped
1 clove garlic – finely chopped or crushed
1 tin/carton of pasata – or use chopped tomatoes and blend the sauce before adding the paneer
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
5-6 cardamom pods – remove the husks and crush the seeds inside
2-3 tablespoons natural yogurt
1 teaspoon salt
a little less than 1 teaspoon sugar
1 packet of paneer – cut into 1cm cubes
handful of coriander leaves – roughly chopped

Take a heavy saucepan and heat the oil. Add the onion, garlic, chili, ginger, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and cardamom seeds and fry gently until soft. Add the tomatoes, salt and sugar, bring to boil then gently simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the paneer and coriander and leave to stand or on a low heat for 20 minutes or so to allow the paneer to absorb the flavours of the sauce. Add the yogurt and stir gently.

Serve with steamed Basmati rice

Paneer on Skewers

We had a few neighbours over recently and I made a few nibbly things. These were great – based on the recipe from Vicky Bhogal’s Year of Cooking Like Mummyjii

Take about 300g paneer and cut into cubes. Place in a bowl with a yellow pepper cut to pieces the same size and a red onion again cut into similar sized chunks. Add about 3 tablespoons of olive or sunflower oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon each of garam masala, ground corainder, salt and paprika. Then add 1 crushed clove of garlic and a small piece of grated ginger. Finally throw in a handful of chopped coriander, mix well, cover and leave for at least an hour.

Soak some wooden skewers in water (this stops them catching fire when under the grill), then divide the marinated paneer, pepper and onions between the skewers. You should get 8-10 out of this quantity.

Heat the grill, then place under for about 10 minutes turning once half way through