Dakshin paneer do pyaaza

Regional flavours of India are truely amazing. The same type of dish will taste differently in every state of India. The secret lies in the spices of course. Each state and sometimes even cities have some favourite spice which is dominant in most dishes. Todays recipe is the do pyaaza. Almost every indian is familiar with this dish where onion is used in 2 forms, a ground paste of onions as well as sliced onions. In todays recipe, I have used whole shallots ( also called sambhar onions) as well as sliced onions. The Dakshin or southern twist is in the simple masala made dominantly with udad dal also known as black lentils. Udad dal rules southern India where its use in almost all idli and dosa preparation is extensive. Using Paneer in this dish gives it a north Indian twist.

Growing up in Pune, my knowledge of south Indian food was limited to dosa, idli and medu wada. Going to Priya restaurant for these treats was often, and something to look forward to. The fragrance of food as you entered this small and cozy restaurant on main street was mouth watering . Of course, the waiters would always direct us to go upstairs where it was for families and ladies only.

My interest in cooking led me to try out different dishes from all over India, leaving a medly of recipes in my cookbook. Spices in the south use udad dal which is roasted slowly and powdered with red chillies and asafoetida, peppercorns etc. Aside from the mainstays,South India also has a huge variety of delicious vegetatarian and non vegetarian food.

Todays recipe is based on chettinad style of cooking. Please do try this simple dish and serve with chappaties or adai rotis made with rice flour.

Ingredients

200 gms paneer cut into cubes

15 shallots

1 sliced onion

2 sprigs of curry leaves

1 tbsp tamarind paste

1 tsp mustard seeds

1/4 th tsp hing/ asafoetida

2 or 3 dry red chillies

15 black peppercorns

1 tbsp split udad dal

Corriander leaves to garnish

Method

1. Dry roast together, udad dal, black peppercorns and dry red chillies. When the dal turns a light golden brown, shut the flame and keep aside to cool. Grind into a fine powder and keep aside.

2. Heat 1 tbsp of coconut oil, add mustard seeds , hing and curry leaves.

3. Now add whole shallots and stir fry on a low flame till the out skin of the shallots starts turning soft and light golden…about 4 to 5 mins.

4. Add the paneer and stir fry further for 5 mins and add sliced onions. Also add the tamarind paste.

5. Add salt to taste and powdered spice mixture. Mix well.

6. Cook further for few mins and add chopped corriander leaves.

Serve hot.

Vegetarian fish seyal

When I say vegetarian fish, its the way this unique dish is presented. Making use of cabbage leaves to make rolls filled with a besan(chick pea flour) paste, and then deep fried , causing the cabbage to look like the skin of a fish.

Many years ago, I found this recipe in THE VEGETARIAN COOK BOOK BY SADHU VASWANI CENTER. Over the years I have made this dish frequently and with good results. It does require a little extra time, but the results are worth it.😊

Besan ki sabji is made in many different ways, the Rajhasthani people call it gaathe ki sabji, where in besan is mixed with spices, oil and water to form a dough, which is then made into small balls or cylindrical logs. These balls are then boiled in water , to be cooked and then added to delicious gravies.

We sindhis also make a delicious besan sabji, called besan ji ani. But the shape given to the dough is normally like small tikkis. These tikkis or anis are either steamed or fried, and added to different gravies.And the gravy to go with this is normally a seyal onion tomato one. Seyal gravy normally lets the onions turn just a light golden instead of brown. Its one of the basic gravies sindhis use.

The recipe I will share with you today uses besan and cabbage leaves. Do try this delicious sabji with hot phulkas…

Ingredients for the rolls

5 cabbage leaves, thick vein removed.

1 cup besan( chickpea flour)

2 tbsps chopped onion

1 tsp whole corriander seeds

1 tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp red chillie powder

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tbsps chopped corriander leaves

1/4th to 1/3 rd cup water

Thread to tie the rolls..

Method

Soften the cabbage leaves by putting them in boiling water for a minute. Remove and pat dry.

Mix the besan, cumin seeds, red chilli powder, salt, corriander seeds and onions along with the water to make a thick paste.

Take a cabbage leaf, apply the besan paste, roll up the leaf and tie with a thread to keep it secured.

Deep fry the cabbage rolls, discard the thread and keep aside.

The cabbage after being fried looks like the skin of fish…hence the name.

Ingredients for the seyal gravy

2 finely chopped onions

3 tomatoes pureed

1 tbsp chopped garlic

1 tbsps chopped ginger

1/2 cup yogurt

1 tsp turmeric powder

2 tsps red chilli powder

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp salt

1 tsp shah jeera…caraway seeds

1/2 tsp ajwain

Heat 2 tbsps oil in a pan, add onions and salt .

When onions turn a pale golden brown, add cumin seeds and ajwain, and ginger, garlic.

Saute well, add red chilli powder, turmeric and garam masala.

Now add pureed tomatoes and let cook for a while, when oil seperates, add beaten curd and chopped corriander leaves.

After 5 mins, add the fried cabbage rolls.

Cover and cook for 5 mins.

Serve hot with phulkas.

Roti jala/ lacy crepes with chicken curry

Roti jala or lacy crepes as they are called have Malaysian origins, normally served with a curry, these crepes are relished at weddings, gatherings and are even sold as a street food. These pretty looking crepes are usually made from a batter of flour, eggs and coconut milk. The batter is drizzled over a hot pan in a pretty lace like pattern. The crepes cook very fast, in under a minute.

Having lived in south east asia for the last 34 years, my cooking has definetely imbibed the asean flavours. I love to mix and match flavours often resulting in fusion cusine. Take for instance curry powder, available all over the world, but my favourite one comes from malaysia. Well all said and done, my family relishes my food and does not complain, so it encourages me to experiment more.

Today the recipe I will share with you is an eggless version of roti jala with an addition of rice flour, I found this gives a better texture to the crepe as well as making it crispier.

I will also share a recipe for chicken curry, which is a fusion curry, using indian spices as well as malaysian curry powder. This type of cooking gives the curry a familiar taste for indian palete. The use of coconut milk and whole spices like corriander seeds, cumin seeds and cinnamon is common to south Indian and south east asian cooking, especially malaysia, singapore and Indonesia.

Do try this meal at home. Easy to make and even prettier to look at.

Roti jala/ lacy crepes

Ingredients

75 gms flour

25 gms rice flour

1/ 2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp salt

100 ml coconut milk( I used the ready to use tetra pack)

150 ml water

Coconut oil to brush the pan

Method

Mix all the dry ingredients together, and slowly add water and coconut milk to make a smooth batter. Let the batter rest for 15 mins.

Strain the batter into the jala mould.

Now heat a nonstick pan with oil abd slowly drizzle a little of the batter onto it , forming a pretty lacy pattern.

Now let it cook for a minute, do not flip it over, fold it inwards from 2 sides

Next, roll it neatly and remove onto a serving platter

Proceed to make the remaining crepes, you dont need to keep brushing the pan. The yield from this recipe should be 10 to 12 roti jalas.

Chicken curry/ vegetable /paneer/tofu curry

Ingredients

400 gms boneless chicken thigh cubed or boiled mix vegetables/ tofu/paneer

1 big onion ..finely chopped

1 big tomato…thinly sliced

1 tbsp garlic..finely chopped

1 tbsp grated ginger

2 tbsps curry powder( I use malaysian baba brand )

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

6 cloves..pierced into a shallot( for easy removal)

1 stick cinnamon

1 tbsp red chilli powder

Salt to taste.

100 ml coconut milk

2 tbsps coconut oil

Method

Heat oil in a pan, and add fennel, cumin seeds, cinnamon and cloves. Saute till fragrant, now add ginger, garlic and chopped onions.

When the onions become limp abd light golden, add the tomatoes, curry powder, red chili powder and salt..mix well

At this point add chicken, cover and cook till tender.

Vegetarians can add boiled vegetables, tofu or paneer.

Next, add half a cup of water and the coconut milk, simmer upto 10 mins. Garnish with fried onions and corriander leaves.

To serve, take crepe and pour some curry on the top.

Enjoy.

# roti jala moulds are available online in most countries

Try amazon or tokopedia.