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.

Pahadi aloo sabji

Todays recipe is based on potatoes which are cooked in the hilly regions of north india. I came across this recipe years ago and since then its been marked as a favourite in my diary. Simple to cook and made in a jiffy. Best eaten with a soft phulka, the aromatic flavours of saunf( fennel seeds) just hit your palatte in a burst of tasty goodness. I have used baby potatoes in this dish as I find they hold their shape well after steaming or boiling.

Potatoes in any form are a favourite all over the world and adapt so well to any cuisine. Be it the american hash browns, french fries , mashed potatoes.. or the swiss pototo rosetti..or our own Indian cuisine. From the delicious aloo ka parantha in the north to poshto aloo made with poppy seeds in the east to pao wada in the west upto the aloo sabzi stuffed in crispy dosas in the south.

Memories of the humble potato ruling my mothers kitchen still linger. Sundays normally meant having fried potato tikkis in the evenings for snacks while door darshan played some old bollywood movies on our black and white tv sets. Of course the tikkis were served with slices of white bread and fresh mint chutney. And most often than not this snack was filling enough not to have anything more for dinner. Only to wait eagerly for the jelly and custard which was a favourite dessert at home. Left over uncooked tikkis were sometimes made into aloo toasters. Sandwiched between two slices of bread buttered on the outside to be toasted manually on the gas stove in a quaint sandwich toaster. This served with tomato ketchup was good to go for breakfast. No one was fussy about carbohyderates or calories..life was fun and happy go lucky…simple pleasures of life were the norm….oh those good old days….

Do try this recipe, team it up with sindhi dal makhni or any of your favourite dal.

Ingredients

Pahadi aloo sabji

250 gms baby potatoes boiled, peeled and halved.

( or normal boiled potatoes, peeled and cubed)

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp saunf ( fennel seeds)

1 tsp red chilli powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

2 tsps freshly ground saunf powder

2 or 3 dry red chillies broken

1 tbsp chopped ginger

1 tbsp chopped garlic

1 sliced onion

2 tbsp thick tamarind paste

2 tbsp honey

Salt to taste

Chopped corriander leaves

2 tbsps mustard oil

Method

Heat oil in a pan, and add cumin seeds and saunf.

Saute till fragrant.

Add ginger, garlic, dry red chillies and sliced onion

Now add the potatoes and salt

Saute for few mins

Add saunf powder, red chilli powder and turmeric powder

Finally add tamarind paste and honey

Mix well…and serve hot , garnished with chopped corriander leaves and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.