Sunday, July 17, 2011

Paneer tikki with grated cauliflower

Preparing a vegetarian meal for meat-eaters is tough, but for me, it is an inspiring challenge. I love to showcase how versatile and tasty a full vegetarian meal can be. Yesterday we had 3 meat-eaters and one vegetarian in our invited group of guests for lunch. We had the additional challenge that one of the guests would tolerate absolutely no spices whatsoever. Happy to say that the entire meal was a huge hit, and so was the conversation and the company.

Going back to the meal, my experimental dish was "Paneer tikki". The rest of the menu included "Mint peas pulao" with "Beetroot raita" and "Green gram sprouts salad with apples and tomatoes", all of which amma made. I wanted something chewy to go with the rice and salad. So decided to make the tikkis. Amma and I pretty much made up the recipe on our own as we went along. Here goes.

2 cups grated paneer
2 cups grated cauliflower
1 tsp salt (more to taste if needed)
1 tsp chili powder (I toned it down to keep it mellow)
1 tsp garam masala
1 Tbsp corn starch
2-3 Tbsp cold milk
1 cup Bread crumbs
Oil for shallow frying

1. Mix grated paneer and cauliflower, salt and spices together
(At this point, amma and I realized that we could not make patties out of this mixture as it kept falling apart and so we added step 2.)
2. Mix corn starch in cold milk and slowly add to the mixture until it is slightly wet and can be rolled into balls
3. Make 10 balls, roll in bread crumbs to thoroughly coat and flatten out on to a sheet of wax paper
4. Add oil to a pan and heat (I prefer to use my Lodge cast iron pan as it gets really hot and is great for shallow frying. See below for reasons.)
5. Add three or four tikkis at a time and fry till golden on both sides
6. Remove and serve hot with a sauce of your choice

The tikkis were an unexpected hit. I did not expect them to turn out well considering the minimal spices and especially the untested recipe. We made an onion-tomato chutney to go with it. Will post the other tried-and-tested recipes from the lunch soon.

Going back to my Lodge cast-iron pan, I think it merits a brief discussion. Even though I have never owned any non-stick pans, I inherited some when V and I got married. I quickly devised a plan to phase them out. When I started researching the alternatives, cast-iron pans seemed like a healthy choice. Here are some tips:
  • Some brands of cast-iron pans can be quite expensive, but "Lodge" sells very affordable cast-iron cookware made in America. I ordered a couple of different pans and pots. I use the flat pan for making dosas or chapatis, and the deep one for making south-indian style vegetable stir-fries (poriyals). (Never use cast-iron with acidic ingredients like tomatoes or tamarind.)
  • It is a pain to clean and maintain the cast-iron pan. It requires me to wash the pan immediately after I finish cooking and dry it with a towel so that it does not rust. And it will rust if you let it!
  • It takes a long time to heat up, but it gets very hot and retains the heat for healthy wok-style cooking, especially for stir-fry vegetables.
  • It needs to be seasoned regularly which also is time-consuming.
  • Le Creuset sells "Enameled" cast-iron cookware at a considerably higher price. And supposedly the porcelain enamel coating will prevent the cookware from rusting, but I am not sure of the health impacts of the enameling process.
  • In conclusion I definitely think that bare cast-iron cookware is a healthier option. It introduces tiny amounts of iron in to our food and does not introduce any harmful chemicals.
Finally a quote I read in the San Francisco Chronicle: "We recommend that people phase out the use of Teflon cookware in their home," says Lauren Sucher of the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D. C., organization that compiles data on toxicology.

1 comment:


I've owned three stainless pressure cookers over the years, & all of them suffered from locking mechanisms that would not actuate & let steam blast through until you shook the pots or pounded them with spoons to get them to actuate.