Monday, March 28, 2011

Spicy paneer on papad/Chaat for Dummies.

Guess what? After all the huffing and puffing about not doing enough Indian food on the blog, I decided that it was high time I stop cribbing and do one. And while I'm there, why not go all out and make a Mughlai chicken curry, right? The kind that has half a kilogram of almonds ground into it, to make up for the absence of khas-khas (the poppy seed from which opium is derived.) that was traditionally used in the emperors' curries.

Yeah, that didn't happen. Baby steps. Can't blame a girl for dreaming big.

So I immediately fell back on two things that can't go wrong: Sanjeev Kapoor and Chaat. Chaat is the ubiquitous Indian street food, the kind that'll taste awesome and authentic only from the street vendor and chez your Marwari friends', and annoyingly insipid and lacking when you have a go.

Don't give up just yet. Sanjeev Kapoor is the closest we've got to a celebrity chef in India. If anybody could teach chaat, it'd be him. To fend off any comparisons, though, I adapted the flavours of chaat into a classic Sanjeev Kapoor dish.

So we've got paneer (cottage cheese) frolicking with coriander/cilantro, red chilli powder, chaat masala (a fantastic mix of everything from rock salt to raw mango powder), green chillies and pineapple. All of it sits pretty on crispy appalams/poppadams. If you're in India, you've lucked out. You have all these things in your kitchen, and if you don't, your neighbourhood Grocery store will have all of those in ten different brands.

If you're not in India, fret not. Cottage cheese is easily attainable. Rotis/Toasted pita or tortilla chips can be used in lieu of appalams/poppadams. But, chaat masala, I'm afraid, you're going to have to track down at an Indian spice store or grocers'. It's one of those magic ingredients that brings boring dishes to life.

And it's totally cool on the health factor, because the appalams are toasted/roasted/baked/grilled and not fried. Use a non-stick pan and teeny bit of oil so that your ginger doesn't burn on you.

I thought I was being smart by skimping on the oil and not using
a non-stick pan. Serves me right.

 A mere sprinkling of salt/chaat masala isn't going to skew anybody's sodium out of whack. If it's 6:00 PM, you're starving and dinner is a long while away, this one is for you.

Spicy Paneer on Papad:


Papad/Mini-tortillas 8
Oil 1 teaspoon
Ginger-garlic paste 1 tablespoon
Green chilli 1
Cottage cheese (paneer)150 gram
Salt to taste
Red chilli powder 1/2 teaspoon
Chaat masala 1 teaspoon
Mint leaves, chopped 4-5
Fresh coriander leaves, a handful, chopped.
Pineapple, cut into chunks 1/2 cup


In a non-stick pan, heat the oil. Add the ginger-garlic paste and saute so it doesn't burn, for one minute. Add the green chillies, saute for 30 seconds or so.

Add the paneer, salt, red chilli powder, chaat masala, mint and coriander. Toss well, but don't mix so much that the paneer crumbles.

Take pan off the heat and add the pineapple chunks.

In a panini grill or a tawa or a griddle, place half a papad piece (semi-circular piece). Before it cookes completely, shape it in the form of a cone. This step is difficult as the papad will be hot and may not get fully cooked by this method.

Once the cones are shaped, you can stuff in the paneer mixture.

So what I did was to just spoon the mixture on top of a roasted papad.

You can serve these as amuse-bouches/appetizers. Each bite will have heat from the chilli, a tang from the chaat masala and sweetness from the pineapple. You'll have freshness from the herbs and different textures, what with the paneer and the pineapple and papad and whatnot.

Or you can just hog it all by yourself and not have space for dinner. God, I'm such a bad influence.

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