Sorry to shout, but Mom and I made PANEER! I am a little excited. Plus do you remember the TV show Frasier? Did you see that episode where Frasier, Niles, and their father were fighting over the TV so they could each watch their favorite show. Turned out they all wanted to watch Antique Roads Show. They end up watching together and it quickly turns into a drinking game. Every time someone said VENEER on the show they would drink. It was so funny! Towards the end they were screaming and drinking and all you heard was VENEER, VENEER, VENEER! What does that have to do with PANEER? Well to this day anytime I say, hear or read VENEER I think of that show. I am an interior designer so you can imagine how often that happens. Well PANEER triggers the same reaction. When we unwrapped the cheese cloth and we had made paneer I could not help but shout PANEER!
Well let me go back to the beginning. I had a birthday recently. To celebrate I wanted to make an Indian menu I saw in the March issue of Food Network Magazine. So Mom and I decided to spend my birthday cooking for the family. The menu was all veggies; Saag Paneer, Cilantro Lentils and Lemon Cumin Rice. We knew that would not fly with a few family members so we also selected a Tandoori Chicken recipe. Believe it or not the hardest part was the shopping. Between Mom and I we had to go to five stores. That was in addition to the spices we already had on hand. Most of the spices were for the Tandoori Chicken. Fenugreek and Black Cardamon were the most allusive spices to find. But, all the shopping and cooking was so worth it. Everything was so good. It was a lot of food. I could have been happy with any two dishes from the menu. But then I would have missed the experience of having the other recipes. I will make all of the recipes again, just not at once. I was a bad blogger and forgot my camera. Below is a dinner plate photo from my sisters phone and a link to each recipe and a review. I totally recommend Indian Night as a birthday celebration.
Shown above in the photo counter clockwise:
This dish was delicious. I think it was the families favorite. See those nice brown little squares next to the spinach, that is the PANEER! We made it from milk, yogurt and lemon juice. It was so easy and it fried into little golden nuggets resembling potatoes. It taste a little like a firm ricotta. We took a short cut with the spinach and just sauteed the fresh baby spinach in the onion and spices. The recipe said to blanch and squeeze out extra liquid. I know why now. Just when I announced to Mom that I thought we got away with our short cut, the spinach released all its delicious liquid. You can see it in the photo. Lesson learned.
I thought this dish was going to be earthy tasting like other lentil dishes. I was also skeptical of the turmeric. But the last minute addition of cilantro and lemon juice makes is bright and tangy. The turmeric was undetectable, you do taste the spice of the cayenne. So delicious! It was a little soupy at first. I thought we would need bowls, but it continues to thicken. It was quite thick when it cooled.
Lemon Cumin Rice
This dish it the perfect complement to any of the other dishes. It was the easiest dish to prepare and fast. Soaking the rice makes the cooking time really short. Loved the lemon, cumin, onion and almonds in the rice. My Dad and sister are not cumin fans but they liked this rice.
This dish was the families second favorite dish of the night. It was also the most time consuming. It requires the most exotic ingredients. All the other recipes you should be able to find the ingredients at your grocery store. This one on the other hand may require a trip to a specialty store or even on-line shopping. My favorite find or purchase was the black cardamon. I finally found it at Bao Bao the international grocery store. It is really fragrant and smoky. The chicken was very moist. The spice mix was very well balanced. I could not pick out just one spice. It makes a lot of marinade when mixed with the yogurt. We actually only made half the recipe. I suggest using a very large pan to brown the chicken. You will get more of a crust on the chicken if they are not touching in the pan. I can't wait to try this recipe on the grill. I think it would be delicious.
Carole's Chatter: Food on Fridays: Lentils & Dried Pulses