Shahi Paneer and Whole Wheat Stuffed Kulchas

A complete meal.

A complete meal.

Sunday Lunches are usually special in our house. I don’t know why. Maybe because I lighten the breakfast and skip cooking dinner. Whatever the reason, these meals bring much happiness, smiles and cheer. So, one such beautiful sunny day our lunch was a full blown punjabi meal.

heavy lunch, this.

heavy lunch, this.

Delicacies using paneer or cottage cheese is very integral to the vegetarian Punjabi. If you are going to refuse tandoori chicken and lamb kebabs, then paneer is the The Protein for you. The cuisine comprises of lip smacking dishes with chickpeas, paneer, whole black lentils and copious amounts of cream and ghee. Punjabi food was the hottest cuisine to tuck into back in the late 70s and 80s.

That Sunday I made a creamy paneer side along with vegetable stuffed oven baked unleavened bread and some rich whole lentil dal. The dishes are heavy and little bit of it stuffs you up. But we like to make it just the way it should be. No fat free version, no zero oil. This kind of lunch makes us forego dinner and just snack on salads and soup.

I have recipes for the paneer and the flatbread. Saving the dal for another post.

SHAHI PANEER

Shahi is royal in hindi. Royalty comes with a whole lot of ghee/butter and cream. So please don’t attempt this curry with fat free oils 🙂
Shahi paneer is a wonderful aromatic curry made using cream, tomatoes and spices. This is my second favourite recipe of the cheese after Makhani Paneer.

Shahi paneer

Shahi paneer

Ingredients

  • 200 gms paneer/cottage cheese, cut into cubes
  • 2 medium sized onions, minced
  • 5/6 cloves of minced garlic
  • a tiny piece of ginger
  • 2/3 green chilies, minced
  • 3 red ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ghee or butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 green cardamom
  • a small stick cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp red chili powder or as per taste
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp tandoori masala or garam masala
  • 1 tsp dried crushed kasoori methi
  • salt as per taste
  • 1 cup cream or malai
  • optional: 1/2 cup mushrooms or bell peppers.
  • To garnish: coriander leaves or mint leaves.

Method

In a wok, heat ghee/butter. Drop the bay leaf, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon. Saute for just about a minute. Crackle the cumin. Add the minced garlic, ginger, green chilies and onions. Sprinkle little salt. Cook till the onions turn translucent. Remove the whole spices if you’re afraid kids will bite into it. Add kasuri methi and fry for another 30 seconds. Now add the tomatoes, along with red chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and salt. Cover and cook till the fat leaves the sides. Takes approx 10-12 minutes.

Once that is done, stir in the cream. Mix well. Give it a boil. Stir in the tandoori masala. Add chopped cubes of paneer. Switch the flame off, garnish with coriander leaves or mint.

Serve hot with any flatbread or rice.

Note: If you want to add other vegetables, sauté the chopped veggies in a different wok using very little fat or oil. Stir the sautéed veggies when you add paneer to the onion tomato cream mix.

Note: Mincing the veggies really fine is the key here. Makes the gravy come into one harmonious mix.

Easy to make

Easy to make

UNLEAVENED STUFFED KULCHAS

Kulchas are small round Indian bread made from flour, milk, and butter, typically stuffed with meat or vegetables. Some use leavening agents like yeast or baking powder. I have skipped the leaveners and used whole wheat instead of refined flour. Dotted with nigella seeds and sesame seeds these little breads are extremely nutritious and very easy to make.

Whole wheat stuffed roasted flatbread

Whole wheat stuffed roasted flatbread

The stuffing I used was made with crushed boiled potatoes, minced onions and coriander leaves. You can be innovative and use any grated vegetable you like. Carrots, cheese, cauliflower, peas make great fillings too.

Stuffing

Stuffing

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • a bit of salt
  • 1/2 tsp carrom seeds or ajwain
  • 1 cup milk
  • Optional: 2 tbsp cream or ghee
  • 1 tsp white sesame seeds and 1 tsp nigella seeds, mixed and set aside.
  • To serve: ghee or white butter.

Method

To the flour, add salt, carom seeds. Using luke warm milk bind the dough. Use more milk if required. The dough should be soft and pliable. If you like, you can add a bit of cream or ghee to the flour before binding. Once done, keep covered for 30 minutes or more.

For the stuffing: Use boiled potatoes, minced onion, green chilies and coriander leaves. Mix well, add salt and cumin powder.

To make the kulcha:

Heat a flat griddle or tawa.
Grab a handful of the dough, make a well in the centre, put a tablespoon of the stuffing, close it like a basket. and using more flour roll it out into a small circle. Before placing the rolled out circle onto the griddle, sprinkle some mixed sesame and nigella seeds. Press the seeds into the dough using the rolling pin. Carefully pick the rolled out circle and slap it onto a semi hot griddle. Once it browns a bit, flip the kulcha and roast a bit from the other side.

The making

The making

Now, you can roll the rest of the dough in similar fashion and keep the slightly roasted ones aside. There are two ways to go ahead from this step:

1. You can use a tong and directly roast the kulcha on an open flame till it browns beautifully. Serve hot with ghee or butter on top.

2. Pre heat the oven to 200 degree C. Place the kulchas on a tray and bake till they brown. Takes approximately 6-8 minutes. Serve with ghee or butter.

Kulchas taste great with paneer, kali dal, amritsari channe and many more!

Note: If you add spices to the stuffing and use it for filling the kulcha, it will be good enough to eat with a bowl of yoghurt. No curry, sides or lentils required then.

Perfect combination

Perfect combination

Whole urad lentil and rajma is soaked overnight and pressure cooked. Cream, ghee and milk is again used copiously in this dal. It is so rich and whole I felt it deserves a space of its own. So another post will carry the recipe and mouth-watering pictures.

Not to forget the daal

Not to forget the daal

Alarmed at the quantity of fat and cream used in the recipes? Well, that’s why we make it sparingly and save it for special occasions. Like a sunday 🙂

Yumm.

Yumm.

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Amritsari Channe

Amritsari Channe

Amritsari Channe

I am fretting and fussin over a name. An apt name for this wonderfully aromatic royal north Indian beans usually eaten with puffed deep fried pooris or bhaturas. They are made in a host of different ways hence we have names for every kind.

What I have here is a dark semi thick gravied version, usually made in Punjab, a northern state in India. Lot of spices are used, some whole, some ground. The end result is spicy, earthy and extremely flavorful. Love for these beans is eternal in my house. They sit happily waiting for their meal to arrive! Bliss, when you have happy faces to feed.

Over the years I’ve had little problem with Chickpeas. They usually turn out well. Having changed recipes several times, and now finally zeroed in on a cross between a couple of formulas, my tryst with these beans is here to stay.

With bread and salad

With bread and salad

My grouse lately is what to accompany this curry with. Traditional pooris and other deep fried stuff is out of our menu. Husband is happy with plain old chappathis. But I find it almost belittling to serve this curry with phulkas… just doesn’t seem right. Bread or ready made whole wheat kulchas are a better option. They somehow justify this royal dish 🙂

With rice, papad and salad

With rice, papad and salad

For me, I almost always make some rice. Chole chawal is a regular in many north Indian homes. Roast a papad, cut up some salad, drizzle salt and lime juice – and you have a very tempting plate in your hands!

Works like magic

Works like magic

Chickpeas are usually white to light brown in color, and post boiling they turn a pale yellow. So, to deepen/darken the gravy, we have a very rustic old way to do so. A spoon full of tea leaves bundled in muslin cloth is dropped into the pot of boiling chickpeas. This darkens the beans and imparts an earthy flavor to the gravy. Mother also added whole spices into the bundle sometimes. Made it easier for her to remove the spices after their work was done, she says.

Ideal for anytime

Ideal for anytime

The Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 and half cups kabuli channa or dried big chickpeas, soaked overnight.
  • 2-3 tbsp channa dal, soaked along with the chickpeas
  • 2 tsp ghee or oil
  • 2 whole cardamoms,
  • 1 bay leaf, 2/3 cloves, a small stick cinnamon
  • 3 garlic pods
  • a tiny piece of ginger
  • 1 big onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup leaves of mint and coriander leaves
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes, ground
  • 1 tsp anardana or dried pomegranate seeds
  • 3 tsp chole masala, store brought or home made
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp tea leaves tied in a muslin cloth
  • Garnish: Julienned ginger, onions, tomatoes, french fries and coriander leaves – optional.

Method

Boil chickpeas and channa dal along with the bag of tea leaves, crushed garlic and salt. Keep aside.
Grind chopped onions, ginger and leaves of mint and coriander to a fine smooth paste.

In a big wok, heat ghee or oil. Throw the whole spices – bay leaf, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. Saute for a minute. Add and fry the onion-coriander mint paste till the oil leaves sides. To this add ground tomatoes along with anardana, chole masala, coriander powder and red chili powder. Mix well and fry the paste very well till the fat separates. Now mix in the boiled chickpeas. Give it a final mix and boil. Garnish.

Serve with pooris/bhature/bread/kulchas/rice.

For the calorie conscious!

For the calorie conscious!

Note: You can add the whole spices while boiling the chickpeas.

Note: Oil or any butter can be used, but I prefer ghee. It adds to the aroma and richness of the dish.

I love my rice!

I love my rice!

Comin back to the name. Ah a name! Since the method leans more towards the ambarsariya kinds, mother advised me to call it Amritsari Channe. And so I do as I am told. Its mothers day after all. 🙂

Punjabi tadka

Punjabi tadka