Restaurant-Style Chilli Paneer

I was introduced to Indo-Chinese food in the late 90s when “fusion cooking” wasn’t a dirty phrase and British curry houses were no longer the only “Indian” option when eating out in the UK. Korma? What was that? Balti, Bhuna and Phall? I’d never heard of them. Growing up in a Gujarati household meant that I was accustomed to Bhaji nu Shaak (spinach cooked with garlic), Oroh (burnt aubergine curry), Guvar (cluster beans) and Bhinda ni Kadhi (okra in buttermilk soup). I’d nod and smile as my friends raved about the dishes they relished during their weekend visit to the local Indian restaurant and I had no idea what half of the dishes were. I felt like a fraud. Bombay Potatoes? Was that like the Bateta nu Shaak my mum made at home?

We rarely ate out at Indian restaurants in those days. The vegetarian options were limited to side dishes of random “mixed vegetables” swimming in generic curry sauces and quite frankly, homemade was better.

Restaurant-Style Chilli Paneer

As the millennium approached, more and more options bubbled up, beginning with areas populated with a high density of Indian residents. Leicester, Wembley and Southall were all on the radar and we visited often. It was in Leicester that I first read the words “Indo-Chinese fusion dishes” on a restaurant menu and this immediately grabbed my attention. I wanted to know more. A whole list of dishes to choose from and I made it my mission to try them all. Chilli Paneer, Gobi Manchurian, Hakka Noodles, Spring Rolls, Mixed Rice & Noodle Sizzler and even Szechuan Dosa were options. I ordered as much as I could manage and that was the day I fell in love with Chilli Paneer.

I later learned that Indo-Chinese food, also known as Desi Chinese was a cuisine developed by the Chinese community of Kolkata, West Bengal. It became a lifelong dream of mine to visit Kolkata’s Chinatown and enjoy Hakka-Indian food in its original birthplace. Just as my grandparents and thousands of other families brought Indian cuisine to East Africa and the British embraced Indian curry, this small community of Hakka settlers shared the gift of their ancestral cuisine with Kolkata. Little did they know that it would lead to the creation of a truly exquisite Indian-Chinese food culture that’s now internationally sought after. Food travels regardless of borders. This is pure comfort food which is why it’s such a treat when eating out. It’s spicy, garlicky, smoky and umami-rich with a liberal attitude towards rivers of soy sauce and the addition of MSG (ajinomoto) in most dishes. It’s not a style of cooking that shys away from battering and deep frying either. Green chilli, spring onions, ginger, garlic, tomato ketchup, soy sauce, chilli sauce, vinegar, turmeric, black pepper and sugar are all widely-used ingredients in Indo-Chinese dishes. A smoking hot cast iron wok is essential for the highly coveted wok hei caramelisation and aromas.

Restaurant-Style Chilli Paneer

Indo-Chinese food is all about taking an abundance of fresh veg, protein and Indian spices and pairing them with sticky, umami-rich cornflour-thickened sauces. These sauces are unlike anything you get in traditional Indian cooking. If you’re a fan of Singapore Noodles, Laksa and Nasi Goreng, it’s worth giving Indo-Chinese food go.

My Instagram family have recently made their love of Chilli Paneer very clear. After a poll, they voted Leicester restaurants Indigo, Chai Paani and Tangoe as the best places to eat the famous dish. Special mention for Sakonis which isn’t in Leicester (they have restaurants in Wembley and Hatch End) but still do a delicious Chilli Paneer. Luckily, I’ve tried them all (several times over) and did my best to recreate the best version in my kitchen at home. The criteria was as follows: The paneer needed to be juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside, the peppers needed some crunch, the sauce had to be loaded with garlic, no tomatoes, lots of green chillies, soy sauce-rich and slightly sweet. Well my friends, I think I may have nailed it but I’ll let you have the final say on that. If you’ve never tried Indo-Chinese food before, Chilli Paneer is one fusion dish worth trying.

Restaurant-Style Chilli Paneer

An Indo-Chinese restaurant favourite made with juicy cubes of paneer, spring onions and peppers cooked in a chilli and garlic sauce. This dish packs a punch.

  • 450 g paneer ((cut into 2cm cubes))
  • 2 tbsp cornflour ((cornstarch))
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil
  • 10 spring onions, white and green parts ((sliced on the bias))
  • 3 red and green peppers ((sliced into 3cm strips))
  • 8 large cloves garlic ((peeled and crushed))
  • 3-4 green chillies ((sliced on the bias))
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce ((you can use dark soy sauce for a darker colour))
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp freshly-chopped coriander ((to garnish))
  • 100 g shredded lettuce leaves ((to serve))
  1. Place the paneer cubes in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Drain leaving some of the moisture behind.
  2. Add the cornflour, salt and ground white pepper. Toss the paneer and cornflour mixture together until the paneer is well coated. Some of the reserved moisture from the water will help the cornflour stick to the paneer.
  3. In a large cast iron wok, heat the oil. Add the paneer cubes and shallow fry until lightly golden, no longer than a minute or they will go hard. Keep the paneer moving with the help of a wooden spoon. Remove the paneer with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on a plate lined with absorbent kitchen towel.
  4. If you need to, remove some of the oil from the wok so you’re left with around 2 tbsp. Heat the wok up until it’s smoking hot. Add the garlic and chillies and cook for 30 seconds. Next, add the spring onions (reserve a handful for garnishing) and peppers and stir-fry for a minute.
  5. Add in the soy sauce, sugar and paneer pieces. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes and then finally add the coriander. Give it all a good mix and serve immediately with shredded lettuce leaves and the reserved spring onions.
  • Use dark soy sauce for a darker colour if that’s what you prefer.
  • I like my Chilli Paneer without a thick sauce but if you’d like to make one, add 100ml water to the wok after the peppers and onions have cooked. Make a slurry of 1 tbsp cornflour well dissolved in 2 tbsp cold water and add it to the cooked peppers and onions. Keep stirring over a high heat for a thick sauce.

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Restaurant-Style Chilli Paneer

Love Sanjana




Vegan Hariyali “Chicken” Drumsticks

Along with tofu and soya chunks, one of my favourite vegan sources of protein is seitan. Made from white beans, tofu and vital wheat gluten, my recipe transforms a handful of simple ingredients into the most delicious vegan “chicken”. It has the perfect “shredded chicken” texture and it can be used to make all kinds of vegan dishes from curries and stews, to salads and tandoori-style dishes. I’ve used it to make Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken, Biryani and now these Hariyali “Chicken” Drumsticks.

Vegan Hariyali Chicken Drumsticks

“Hariyali” refers to the beautiful shamrock green colour of the marinade. My recipe puts a glut of coriander and mint to good use and the tandoori-style drumsticks pair perfectly with salad and freshly-made Indian flatbreads like naan, paratha and chapattis.

Even though the marinade is packed full of big, punchy flavours, the spicing is simple using lots of ginger, chillies and garlic. Cashews and coconut yoghurt give the super green marinade body so that it clings on the the “chicken” drumsticks with ease. Both vegetarians and meat eaters will be able to dig in to these party-ready vegan drumsticks so they’re a great option for big gatherings.

Vegan Hariyali Chicken Drumsticks

I like to keep batches of vegan seitan chicken in the freezer. I make shreds, pieces, loaves and drumsticks so I can quickly whip some out and marinate them or pop them straight into curries, stir fries and noodles.

Traditionally, Hariyali Chicken is a mouth-watering appetiser which is popular in Northern India and is best enjoyed with red onions or kachumber (a mix of red onions and tomatoes) and chutneys. I like to top them with a handful of juicy pomegranate seeds for a burst of freshness.

Vegan Hariyali Chicken Drumsticks

Vegan Hariyali “Chicken” Drumsticks

Made from white beans, tofu and vital wheat gluten, my recipe transforms a handful of simple ingredients into the most delicious vegan “chicken”. Hariyali refers to the beautiful shamrock green colour of the marinade. My recipe puts a glut of coriander and mint to good use and the tandoori-style drumsticks pair perfectly with salad and freshly-made Indian flatbreads like naan, paratha and chapattis.

For the vegan “chicken” drumsticks:

  • 300 g extra-firm tofu (drained)
  • 1 x 400 g tin haricot beans, including the liquid from the tin (you can also use any other white beans such as cannellini beans or butter beans)
  • 150 g vital wheat gluten (I buy mine on Amazon)
  • 150 ml cold water
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp white miso paste
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 3 tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil

You will also need:

  • 10-12 flat wooden lollipop sticks
  • Kitchen foil
  • A pressure cooker

For the hariyali marinade paste:

  • 120 g fresh coriander (including stalks)
  • 50 g fresh mint leaves
  • 2 thin green chillies
  • 3 tbsp coconut yoghurt
  • 8-10 cashews
  • 1 inch piece ginger, peeled
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp agave nectar

To serve:

  • 80 g pomegranate seeds (to garnish)
  • 1 small red onion, cut into rings (to garnish)
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves (to garnish)

For the vegan “chicken” drumsticks:

  1. In a blender, combine the tofu, haricot beans in their liquid, miso paste, soy sauce, salt, nutritional yeast, oil and water until you have a smooth paste.Add the vital wheat gluten to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the tofu mixture and mix on a low speed until the two come together in the form of a dough.
  2. Switch the paddle attachment to a dough hook and mix on a medium/high speed for 10-12 minutes. Stay close by as the mixer may shuffle across the counter top as the dough is tough to work. You’ll also need to be very careful your mixer’s motor doesn’t burn out. This kneading of the dough is crucial in developing the gluten and proteins in the seitan and shouldn’t be skipped. The longer and harder you work it, the more fibrous and chicken-like the final product will be. I wouldn’t recommend doing it by hand as your arms might threaten to fall off. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger would struggle, seriously. Having said this, you can create seitan kneading by hand – it will not however, have a shreddable, “pulled” quality and you’ll finish up with a spongy end product instead. It’ll still taste good but probably won’t fool your meat-eating friends.
  3. Once your seitan has been kneaded long and hard, remove it from the mixer and divide it into 10 equal pieces. Wrap each piece around a wooden lollipop stick into a drumstick-like shape. Next, wrap each “drumstick” very tightly in 2-3 layers of heavy-duty foil, trying to maintain the shape as well as possible. You want it to be nice and compact inside to stop it expanding inside as this will promote sponginess rather than the shreddable texture we’re after. The multiple layers of foil will also stop water getting inside.
  4. Next, fill a pressure cooker with plenty of water (about 3/4 of the way full) and bring to a boil. Carefully drop your drumsticks into the cooker and put the lid on. Cook on a medium/high heat for 45 minutes. Once the time is up, switch off the heat and leave it to cool completely. If your pressure cooker is too small to hold all 10 drumsticks, you’ll need to cook them in two batches. In any case, keep the cooking time the same.
  5. Once cool, remove the seitan drumsticks from the cooker and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 48 hours.
  6. Unwrap and check out that amazing texture when you pull it apart. Your vegan “chicken” is now ready to marinate.

For the vegan hariyali “chicken” drumsticks:

  1. To make the marinade, combine all the ingredients except the coconut yoghurt in a blender and blend until completely smooth.
  2. Transfer to a large bowl and stir the coconut yoghurt in. This will ensure the marinade doesn’t become too runny.
  3. Add the cold vegan chicken drumsticks and carefully coat each one in the marinade.
  4. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. You can also prepare this 24 hours in advance.
  5. Heat a griddle pan until smoking hot. Place the vegan chicken drumsticks on the griddle pan and cook each side until you have charred grill marks all over. Serve with red onion rings and scatter with pomegranate seeds and more coriander.
  • Grilling gives the vegan hariyali “chicken” drumsticks that delicious Indian restaurant-style flavour but you could also bake these in a pre-heated oven at 200°C for 10-12 minutes if you prefer. They’re also delicious when cooked on the barbecue.
  • You can prepare the recipe up to stage 7 in the recipe and then pop into a freezer-safe container for later if you want to get ahead on the recipe or make the dish another day.
  • My frozen vegan “chicken” keeps well in the deep freeze for up to 3 months.

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Vegan Hariyali Chicken Drumsticks




Vegan Kadai Tofu & Vegetables

I get such a sense of satisfaction from emptying the fridge of the last of the vegetables. Knowing we’ve used up every last bit of fresh food without throwing anything out fills me with all the good feelings. A rogue carrot, a handful of mushrooms and a glut of peppers bought two weeks ago, they all have their uses.

Kadai Tofu and Vegetables

Food waste is such a huge problem today and it makes no sense because there are also so many people struggling to feed themselves and their families. Along with supermarkets and food manufacturers, we’re all responsible for ensuring we do what we can to cut down on the amount of food we toss in the bin just because it’s a few days past the date printed on the packet. Tesco have recently announced they will stop printing Best Before dates on some fruit and veg products which is a great start. Having worked on a number of food TV shows in the past, I’ve seen an immense amount of (perfectly good) food being thrown in the bin for the sake of time and storage and it’s just a very sad thing to see.

Kadai Tofu and Vegetables

Along with Pau Bhaji and Biryani, my other raid-the-fridge dinnertime favourite is this Kadai Tofu and Vegetables. You can make it with pretty much any veggies you have leftover in the fridge and it tastes like a restaurant-quality Kadai dish. All the flavour comes from the coriander seed, fennel seed and black peppercorn Kadai masala which is the star of the show. I raided the fridge and found tofu, mixed peppers, mushrooms, spring onions and red onions so that’s what I used but you could also use squash, cauliflower, potatoes, asparagus or mixed root vegetables if you like.

Kadai Tofu and Vegetables

For a vegetarian but non-vegan option, you could swap the tofu for paneer or even halloumi if that’s what you have. It will work with any non-melting cheese. I’ve also tried it with soya chunks and it turned out great. Adding all the veggies at the same time and cooking them very briefly on a high heat ensures they stay deliciously crunchy but with that smoky, charred flavour you’d expect from a restaurant-style Kadai dish. If you prefer your veggies tender, you can cook them a little longer. I add my chillies whole so I can pop them in my plate but the rest of the family can avoid them if they don’t want theirs too hot.

Serve this dish hot with soft chapattis/phulkas, jalebi paratha or simply with jeera rice, salad and a cooling cucumber raita.

Kadai Tofu and Vegetables

Vegan Kadai Tofu and Vegetables

The Indian restaurant favourite, Kadai Paneer gets a vegan makeover with this smokey and fragrant tofu and vegetable version. Leave the veggies crunchy for a burst of freshness. Serve with hot chapattis or paratha.

For the kadai masala:

  • 2 tbsp whole coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 2 tsp kasoori methi

For the curry:

  • 300 g firm tofu, drained, patted dry and cut into cubes
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 3 tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 whole green chillies
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and julienned
  • 2 large red onions, cut into wedges
  • 3 peppers, cut into wedges
  • 5 spring onions, trimmed and quartered
  • 100 g button mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • A few sprigs of fresh mint, to garnish
  1. To make the kadai masala, toast all the whole spices in a dry pan. Once they’re very light brown and aromatic, transfer to a pestle and mortar and coarsely grind. Set aside.

  2. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a non-stick pan. Toss the tofu cubes in the cornflour and add them to the hot oil. Cook on all sides until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.

  3. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp of oil in the same pan used to cook the tofu and add the cumin seeds. Allow the cumin to sizzle and then add the ginger and chillies. Cook for 30 seconds and then add all the vegetables, 3/4 of the kadai masala, garam masala, turmeric and salt. Cook on a very high heat for 5 minutes, allowing some of the veggies to scorch.

  4. Add the tofu and give it a mix, taking care not to break up the tofu pieces. Cook for a further 3 minutes. Serve immediately, sprinkling over the remaining kadai masala and mint sprigs.

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Kadai Tofu and Vegetables




Easy, Creamy Palak Paneer

I will always order Palak Paneer if it’s on the menu in a restaurant. It’s the law. I could forgo rice and bread and quite simply eat a bowl of Palak Paneer with a spoon.

You can tell a good Indian restaurant from a bad one by the quality of their Palak Paneer. Have they bothered to blend the sauce for a rich, luxurious finish? If it’s left chunky with tomatoes, lots of turmeric and far too many spices, it’s probably the base for another dish on the menu doubled up to be used for Palak Paneer too. It also shouldn’t be labelled Saag Paneer on the menu. Saag Paneer is an entirely different dish made with delicious, peppery mustard greens and shouldn’t be confused with the milder-tasting Palak Paneer made with spinach.

Easy, Creamy Palak Paneer

It’s delightful when restaurant Palak Paneer turns out to have a smooth and creamy blended spinach sauce with a bright green colour. You can tell it’s been made with care and attention. simple flavoured sauce paired with a big, bold and spicy tadka on top (but using very few ingredients). You have to be able to taste the ginger, garlic and green chillies; they can’t just be part of the background flavour. Bonus points for a little splash of cream on top to temper the heat of the green chillies.

Palak Paneer is a stick-to-your-ribs North Indian treasure that was made to be a filling vegetarian option so please don’t cut out the butter. You can however, veganise this Palak Paneer easily by switching the paneer for pan-fried firm tofu, using a flavourless oil in place of ghee and butter and topping it off with a splash of coconut milk instead of cream. For a true restaurant-style finish, I have some simple tips to share. These will ensure you have a smooth, bright green sauce, melt-in-the-mouth paneer chunks and a luscious tempering of garlic and chilli on top.

Easy, Creamy Palak Paneer

The trick to a super green sauce is to cook the spinach as little as possible. Just apply enough heat to wilt it at the beginning and heat the finished sauce just to warm all the ingredients through. Soak the paneer in slightly-salted boiling water to soften it up and give it a bright white colour. You only need to do this if you’re using shop-bought paneer. Fresh paneer will already be tender.

I like to finish Palak Paneer off with a buttery garlic and chilli tadka. Only cook it up until the point that the garlic is blonde and crispy. Nobody likes the bitter taste of burnt garlic. Ensure the chillies are slit so that they don’t burst in the oil.

If there’s excess water in your wilted spinach, use a slotted spoon to drain as much as you can from it before you blend the leaves. Leave the cooking liquor in the pan and reduce it down to around 2 tbsp. This is full of flavour and goodness so you don’t want to throw it away but you also don’t want excess water blended into the sauce. This will ensure you don’t need to evaporate the water by simmering the finished sauce too long, preserving that lovely green colour and the spinach flavours.

Easy, Creamy Palak Paneer

A simple take on the rich and delicious North Indian treasure. Silky smooth spinach with juicy chunks of paneer and a tempering of crispy garlic and spicy green chillies.

For the Palak Paneer:

  • 900 g spinach leaves ((washed and squeezed of excess water))
  • 450 g paneer ((cubed))
  • 5 cloves garlic ((peeled and chopped))
  • 2-inch piece ginger ((grated))
  • 2-3 green chillies ((chopped))
  • 1 tbsp melted ghee
  • 2 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 50 g salted butter
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp double cream ((optional))

For the crispy garlic tempering (tadka):

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 50 g salted butter
  • 2-4 green chillies ((slit lengthways))
  • 3 large cloves garlic ((finely sliced))
  1. If you’re using shop-bought paneer, place the cubes in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. You can add a pinch of salt to this if you like. This will soften them up and give them a beautiful white colour. Allow this to soak.

  2. Place the ghee in a large pan and add the cumin seeds. Allow to sizzle for a moment before adding the ginger, garlic and chilli. Sauté for a minute or two before adding the spinach. Cover and allow the spinach to wilt, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

  3. Transfer the spinach to a blender, along with the butter. If there’s a lot of excess water in the pan (this depends on the spinach), remove as much of the spinach as you can and leave the water in the pan. Blend the spinach until totally smooth and creamy. The butter will help to emulsify the spinach and give the sauce a rich, silky finish. I use a Nutribullet to do this.

  4. Simmer the excess water down over a medium heat until reduced to about 2 tbsp. This is full of flavour and you don’t want to waste a drop.

  5. Drain the paneer cubes of their soaking liquid.

  6. Pour the sauce back into the pan and add the garam masala and salt. Stir to combine. Fold in the paneer pieces and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. You want to cook this as little as possible to retain that beautiful green colour.

For the crispy garlic and tadka:

  1. Heat the oil and butter in a small pan. Add the slit chillies and garlic slices. Sauté over a medium-low heat until lightly golden and crispy. Pour this over the Palak Paneer immediately and garnish with the optional cream.

Serve with paratha or naan. Or if you’re anything like me, eat it straight up with a spoon.

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Easy, Creamy Palak Paneer

A simple take on the rich and delicious North Indian treasure. Silky smooth spinach with juicy chunks of paneer and a tempering of crispy garlic and spicy green chillies.




Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka

One of my most favourite meals in the world is the iconic Punjabi dish, Tandoori Paneer Tikka. When this street food gem is served alongside lemon wedges, salad and mint and coriander chutney, nothing else comes close. The beauty of simple ingredients, very few spices and fiery cooking method ensures this dish is world famous for its leopard-spotted char and smoky flavours.

I’ve been working on this recipe for the ultimate Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka made without a tandoor or barbecue for SO long. You’ll notice my dreams of installing a big, badass tandoor in my garden still haven’t come to fruition. Don’t worry though, I’ve found a great workaround. It’s a recipe that gives you restaurant or street-style flavours at home with minimal effort. Spoiler: there’s no grill or oven involved either.

Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka

Juicy chunks of paneer marinated in a punchy hot and sour tandoori masala are skewered up with onion petals and pieces of pepper. The loaded skewers are then grilled on a wire rack directly over the gas cooker to infuse deep, smoky flavours into the paneer and veg. The ghee and oil combo in the marinade ensures the outside becomes freckled with the familiar scorch marks you’d expect from a restaurant or street-style tandoori dish. Serve it up with a pool of coriander and mint chutney, fresh salad leaves and lemon wedges. You can also toss in raw red onion slices and serve with butter naan or garlic naan for a true Punjabi-style feast.

Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka

A few tips and notes before you start.

  • Marinate the paneer, peppers and onions for a minimum of 30 minutes to give the ingredients time to get acquainted. If you have time, you can pop the paneer and veg in the tandoori marinade the night before. Be sure to keep it covered in the fridge.
  • Being your resident paneer fangirl, you’ll know I’m always going on about soaking shop-bought paneer for a fresh, homemade texture and taste. You can find out how I do this in the recipe below. The basic idea is to rehydrate the paneer in boiling water to soften it up and give a brilliant-white colour that’s just like homemade. If you want to make your own paneer at home, you can find my recipe here: Homemade Paneer.
  • Ensure the wire rack you use on top of the cooker is sturdy and can handle the heat.
  • Open all the windows in your house for good ventilation. The cooking process will create smoke which will need to escape. If you have an extractor fan, switch it on. It will make your house smell like a restaurant kitchen. Glorious!
  • If you don’t fancy cooking this over a flame, you can also place the skewers on a wire rack and cook them in an oven until charred. Make sure it’s pre-heated to the highest temperature possible. Traditional tandoors average 400°C heat so it needs to be hot! You can also place these on a griddle pan or on the barbecue.
  • I used flat metal skewers (be careful when turning as the handles can get really hot) but you can also use wooden skewers. Be sure to soak them in cold water for an hour before you need to use them. This will stop them burning during the cooking process.
  • Most restaurants and street vendors add red food colour to their marinade for the iconic and eye-popping crimson colour. I’m no food snob and am not opposed to food colours in cooking but I just don’t find it necessary in this dish. Kashmiri chilli powder will give you a gorgeous natural red colour with very little heat. If you can’t get hold of it, use equal parts of smoked paprika and regular chilli powder in its place. I often use tomato paste for colour and tang which isn’t authentic but works a treat.

If you’re looking for a vegan tandoori option, check out my Tandoori Tofu Tikka recipe. The marinade for that recipe packs a huge punch to really infuse the tofu with plenty of flavour. If you prefer a milder tikka, you can easily veganize this recipe. Switch the paneer for tofu, tempeh or seitan, use all oil instead of ghee and sub in coconut yoghurt in both the tikka marinade and chutney recipes.

Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka

Juicy chunks of paneer marinated in a punchy hot and sour tandoori masala are skewered up with onion petals and pieces of pepper. The loaded skewers are then grilled on a wire rack directly over the gas cooker to infuse deep, smoky flavours into the paneer and veg. 

  • 450 g paneer ((3cm cubes))
  • 1 large onion ((cut into wedges or petals))
  • 1 red pepper ((cut into 3cm squares))
  • 1 green pepper ((cut into 3cm squares))
  • Salad leaves ((to serve))
  • Lemon wedges ((to serve))

For the tandoori marinade:

  • 200 g natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil ((or any other flavourless oil))
  • 3 cloves garlic ((peeled))
  • 2 inch piece ginger ((peeled))
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder ((this gives the dish an amazing colour))
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp kasoori methi
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves ((chopped))
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint leaves ((chopped))

For the coriander and mint chutney:

  • 180 g fresh coriander ((including stalks))
  • 30 g fresh mint leaves
  • 1 clove garlic ((peeled))
  • 3 hot green chillies ((stalks removed))
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp natural yoghurt

For the Coriander and Mint Chutney:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth. You might need to add a little water to ensure even blending. Stir in the yoghurt at the end. If you add the yoghurt to the blender the chutney will become super runny so it’s best to stir it in at the end for good body and texture. Refrigerate. 

For the Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka:

  1. Place the paneer pieces in a large bowl and cover them with boiling water from the kettle. Ensure they’re completely submerged. Set aside while you make the tandoori marinade.

  2. Place all the ingredients for the marinade (excluding the yoghurt, ghee and oil) in a blender or food processor and blitz until smooth.

  3. Put the yoghurt in a large bowl and add the blended marinade. Stir to combine.

  4. Heat the ghee and oil in a small pan until smoking hot. Carefully pour this into the yoghurt marinade and stir it in quickly and thoroughly.

  5. Drain the paneer, add the onions and peppers and toss in the marinade. Your hands are the perfect tool for this.

  6. Skewer the paneer and veg, alternating ingredients according to your preference.

  7. Place a strong, sturdy metal rack over the burner of your gas cooker. Arrange the skewers on top. I cooked two at a time to ensure even cooking. Switch on the flame and cook the skewers, rotating and adjusting their position until speckled and charred all over. Repeat for all the skewers.

  8. Serve immediately with salad, lemon wedges and coriander and mint chutney.

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Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka




Ugandan Rolex: East African Breakfast Wraps Rolled with a Vegan Omelette Inside

I’ve always been slightly bitter that I could never appreciate the beauty of a breakfast burrito. Don’t worry, I most certainly haven’t fallen off the vegetarian bandwagon. For me, the idea of something so filling, flavoursome and not to mention, gigantic for breakfast makes me weak at the knees. I’m that person who gives breakfast burrito street stalls serious side eye as I pass by. Jealousy.

All of this was true up until the point of discovering the ‘Rolex’. Nope, we’re not chowing down on eye-wateringly expensive watches for breakfast; We’re eating spicy omelettes with onions, chillies, shredded cabbage and tomatoes, all wrapped in hot, flaky flatbread.

Ugandan Rolex - East African Breakfast Wraps Rolled with a Vegan Omelette Inside

Found on the bustling, buzzing streets of Kampala, Masaka and dozens more towns and cities in Uganda, Rolex is one of the most delicious and underrated street foods you’ll come across in East Africa. A beautiful combination of textures and flavours, in a portable roll for eating on the go. It’s so popular, there’s an entire festival dedicated to it. Any festival dedicated to something that resembles a burrito is my kind of festival.

One day we’ll all go there and stuff our faces. Deal?

Like many words in the Swahili language, this dish is named after the way it sounds. The term ‘Rolex’ comes from ‘rolled eggs’. If you say it as quickly as you would eat it, it all makes perfect sense. This is what I love about listening to people speak in Swahili.

Growing up, much of the Gujarati we spoke at home was influenced by the Swahili language. It was woven so deep into our vocabulary that if you asked me now what the Gujarati words for everyday things are, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. That’s because I’ve been replacing them with the Swahili words my whole life.

Ugandan Rolex - East African Breakfast Wraps Rolled with a Vegan Omelette Inside

How cute is this little giraffe I bagged during my last trip to Mombasa?

In our family, we mash up Gujarati and Swahili words left, right and centre, creating a sort of pidgin Gujarati peppered with the Swahili nuances and colloquialisms our parents and grandparents once embraced.

Here are some of my favourite Gujarati-Swahili words that have made it into our everyday conversations:

Sufariyu (Bowl)
Fhangusa (To mop the floor)
Sahani (plate)
Pasi (Iron)
Kata (to cut) – we use this to refer to thorns on plants. For example, Bharti ben ne kejje ke laal phool nahi adhe, boh kata che.”

It works the other way, too. Gujarati words have been adopted by the Swahili language. The word, ‘goti’ meaning ‘knee’ has been adapted to ‘gotli’ to refer to the stone inside a mango, because it literally resembles a small kneecap. Gujarati convention simply inserts an ‘L’ to indicate the diminutive. So to Gujaratis in East Africa, ‘Gotli’ = mango stone/little knee.

Ugandan Rolex - East African Breakfast Wraps Rolled with a Vegan Omelette Inside

You’ll notice that a tonne of these hybrid words relate to eating and sleeping; the favourite pastimes of every Gujarati.

Let’s get cracking with the omelettes, shall we? Sorry, but I love a pun. My omelettes have been veganized using super-healthy tofu, blended up with chickpea flour, spices and then laced with veggies. The result is soft and light with just the right kind of wobble and texture you’d expect from a traditional omelette. They also hold their shape like a dream. Each vegan omelette is then wrapped in a Kenyan-style Chipati (flaky flatbread) and rolled into a cigar. You could also use a tortilla wrap or paratha if you like. I stuffed them with a rainbow of shredded vegetables which isn’t entirely traditional but it’s good for you and tastes divine.

Kenya-style chipati is a version of Indian chapattis. They’re made with plain flour and rolled thinly for a slightly chewier texture in comparison to Indian chappatis. Make them first and the omelettes second before rolling up the Rolex. The Kenya-style chipati are delicious with dishes like Sukuma Wiki and are perfect for rolling up with these tofu omelettes inside. If you’re not up for making your own chipatis, you could also use the frozen chappatis or paratha you get in your local Indian supermarket. I’ve tried this recipe with this brand before and it works a treat.

And there you have it – a crazy-delicious breakfast or brunch treat to go along with masala chai. Serve them with chips for a tea-time treat you’ll crave at least once a week.

P.S. Breakfast burritos, I’m over you.

Ugandan Rolex - East African Breakfast Wraps Rolled with a Vegan Omelette Inside

Ugandan Rolex – East African Breakfast Wraps Rolled with a Vegan Omelette Inside
Makes 6-8

Ingredients

For the vegan omelettes
500g medium firm tofu, pressed
80g chickpea flour
1 tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp black salt
2 green chillies, chopped finely
2 inch ginger, grated
Pinch of salt
1/2 red onion, chopped finely
1 tomato, chopped finely
100g cabbage, chopped finely and cooked
100ml aquafaba (water from a can of chickpeas)

To roll inside the rolex
½ small red cabbage, shredded
200g spinach leaves
3 carrots, grated
100g radishes, sliced finely

Method

1. To make the omelettes: Blend the tofu until smooth.

2. Place the chickpea flour, cornflour, aquafaba, turmeric, black salt, green chillies, salt and ginger in a large bowl. Add the tofu and whisk until smooth. Set aside for 10 minutes.

3. Grease a non-stick frying pan with oil and heat the pan over a medium/low flame.

4. Place a ladle full of vegan omelette batter in to the pan. Scatter with chopped onion, cabbage and tomatoes. Cook until the top of the vegan omelette sets lightly but still has a little bit of a wobble. The base should be golden.

5. Flip and cook the other side for 20-30 seconds.

6. Place a chipati directly on top of the cooked vegan omelette while it’s still in the pan. Remove the chipati and omelette stack and place on a board. Fill with shredded red cabbage, spinach, carrots and radishes. Roll tightly and wrap in foil. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving. This ensures the wrap doesn’t fall apart.

7. Repeat for the rest of the rolex.

For the Kenya-style Chipati

Ingredients
250g plain flour, plus more for rolling
40ml sunflower oil
125ml boiling water, or enough to make a soft dough

Method

1. Add the flour to a large bowl and make a well in the middle.

2. Pour the oil into the well and top up with the boiling water.

3. Use a spoon to mix the dough until it’s cool enough to handle. Use your hands to bring the dough together. Knead for 5 minutes until smooth and soft.

4. Make small ping pong ball-sized pieces with the dough. Keep some flour on a plate for rolling.

5. Get another plate lined with kitchen paper and keep your butter handy.

6. Place the cast iron hot plate or a frying pan on a medium heat. Leave it for 5 minutes.

7. Get your rolling board and rolling pin ready. Keep a wet sponge under the board so it doesn’t move.

8. To start rolling, take a piece of dough and roll it between your palms, flattening it slightly. Dip each side in flour.

9. Roll it once up and down with the rolling pin and then take a pinch of flour. Place it in the middle of the dough and then use your index fingers and thumb to pinch it closed, starting from the outer edges. This step isn’t something everyone traditionally does but is what my mum taught me for soft chipati that rise.

10. Next, flatten the dough using your palm and again, dip each side in flour. Now, begin rolling the dough in a circular motion, teasing the dough to move around with your rolling. If you can’t do this, pick the chipati up with one hand and move it around yourself. The aim is to create a perfectly round, even surface and a flatbread that’s around 2mm in thickness and 6-7-inches in diameter.

11. Place the chipati on the cast iron hotplate and cook until little bubbles appear on the surface – around 10 seconds. Flip it.

12. Cook it on the second side until small, even brown spots appear all over the bottom of the chipati – around 30 seconds. Flip it.

13. Now, this is the rising side. Don’t worry if your chipati don’t rise the first few times you try it. It comes with practice. They’ll still taste delicious. Cook until darker, less evenly-spread patches appear on the bottom. Around 15-20 seconds. Flip it and place it this side up on your kitchen paper-lined plate.

14. Repeat this process for all of your chipati until you have a stack.

Ugandan Rolex - East African Breakfast Wraps Rolled with a Vegan Omelette Inside

Love Sanjana

 

 

 

 

 

 




Dhai Ke Kebab Lettuce Wraps with Sweet Onion Drizzle

I’ll always be a fan of a really good veggie burger but when it’s hot outside and I’m feeling too lazy to cook, lettuce wraps with something a little bit different inside are the like a dream. I love using lettuce to wrap up spicy noodles, quinoa salad, tandoori tofu and these totally delicious Dhai Ke Kebabs.

Dhai Ke Kebab Lettuce Wraps

These kebabs are made with thick, creamy yogurt that’s been hung for 24 hours, paneer, fresh mint, coriander, ginger and chilli – hardly health food but when a lettuce-wrapped kebab with crunchy veggies and sweet onion sauce tastes this fresh, you won’t care. I promise.

The Dhai Ke Kebabs themselves have a golden, crunchy exterior from a combination of breadcrumbs and semolina – the audible ‘crunch’ when you bite into it is SO satisfying. The inside is soft, surprisingly light and lemony with the freshness of mint, coriander and a touch of ginger. The delicate combo of flavours will dance on your palate as if you were partaking in a groom’s dhol procession at an Indian wedding, midsummer.

Dhai Ke Kebab Lettuce Wraps

Inspired by the rich, spicy Mughlai feasts of kings and queens in Medieval India, this alternative take on Dhai Ke Kebabs is definitely a far cry from how they would have been eaten in ornate palaces. They would have probably made up part of a larger feast of biryani, slow-cooked curries laden with dried fruits and cream and fluffy tandoor-cooked bread – all served on a lavish dining table decked with the finest gold dinnerware.

Dhai Ke Kebab Lettuce Wraps

Well I’m no Mughlai rani.

While the essence of indulgence remains with the Dhai Ke Kebabs, the rest of the dish is light, fresh, crunchy and colourful. Perfect for modern-day feasting and our busy lifestyles.

This is one of those dishes that was made for sharing. Crown your table with all the different components; Dhai Ke Kebabs, lettuce leaves, sliced carrots, cucumbers, sweet onion drizzle, toasted cashews, pomegranate, mint leaves, coriander and a few bottles of cold beer and you’re good to go. Assemble as you eat. That way, you can add more or less of whatever you like. The only problem you might have is fitting everything into the one lettuce wrap.

Word of advice… Eat with your hands – cutlery will only slow you down.

This is one of the most mouth watering dishes you can cook when you’re craving something fresh, inspired and just that little bit different from the usual veggie burgers or falafel.

Dhai Ke Kebab Lettuce Wraps

Dhai Ke Kebab Lettuce Wraps with Sweet Onion Drizzle
Serves 6-8

For the Dhai Ke Kebabs:

350g hung yoghurt (try using Greek yoghurt, hung in a cheesecloth for 24 hours)
220g crumbled paneer
100g fresh breadcrumbs
4 fresh chillies, chopped finely
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
2 tbsp dry-roasted chickpeas, ground (daria)
1 tsp cracked black pepper
½ tsp ground coriander seeds
Juice ½ lemon
Salt to taste

For the kebab coating:
100ml milk
100g fresh breadcrumbs
30g coarse semolina

Oil to deep fry

To serve:
2 heads Cos lettuce, leaves separated
Pomegranate seeds
1 cucumber, sliced finely
4 carrots, sliced finely
Handful toasted cashews
Fresh coriander
Fresh mint

For the sweet onion drizzle:
180g brown sugar
80ml apple cider vinegar
1 red onion, chopped finely
2 tsp poppy seeds
1 tsp sesame oil
2 red chillies
1 tsp English mustard
1 tsp ground fennel seeds
½ tsp salt
2 tsp cornflour dissolved in 2 tbsp cold water

Method

1. First, make the sweet onion drizzle. Combine all the ingredients except the fennel seeds and cornflour in a pan. Stir to combine and bring to the boil. Simmer, stirring often for 20 minutes until slightly thick and syrupy. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Return to the head and stir in the ground fennel seeds and cornflour. Stir until thick, adding a little bit of water if necessary. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. You should have a sticky-sweet and spicy sauce.

2. To make the kebabs, combine all the ingredients apart from the coating ingredients in a large bowl and combine. You should have a dough-like consistency. Knead it for a minute.

3. Make golf ball-sized balls and shape the kebabs as you wish – you can do little slider-type tikki shapes or longer kofta-style kebabs. I did both just to mix it up a bit. Place onto baking sheets.

4. Combine the breadcrumbs and semolina for the coating. Roll each kebab into the coating and arrange on the baking tray. Once you’ve done them all, briefly dip each one into a bowl of milk and back into the coating mix. This will ensure your coating is substantial for a crispy outside.

5. Arrange each one on a baking tray and place in the freezer for 20 minutes.

6. Fill a pan with enough oil to deep fry the kebabs. Heat to 160C. You could bake them with a spray of oil but they won’t be as crispy, evenly brown or delicious. Deep fry them – I promise you it’s worth it.

7. Remove the kebabs from the freezer and fry three or four at a time, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Overcrowding the pan will result in the temperature of the oil dropping. Nobody wants greasy kebabs.

8. Fry until golden all over. Drain the kebabs on a plate lined with kitchen paper. Serve immediately or keep warm in the oven for up to 30 minutes. You could also freeze them for baking later.

9. Place all the filling ingredients on a platter and serve in the middle of the table, allowing everybody to dig in and build their own lettuce wraps.

Dhai Ke Kebab Lettuce Wraps

 

Enjoy watching everyone fight over the Dhai Ke Kebabs.

Love Sanjana




Chilli-Garlic Tofu Noodle Bowls with Crispy Okra

One of my favourite weeknight dinners is stir-fried tofu with colourful veggies, noodles and heaps of chilli. This is a twist on Chilli Paneer – that Indian vegetarian restaurant favourite that has found its way onto wedding menus and dinner tables at home. As much as I love paneer, I find it a little too heavy to have with noodles or rice – this is where tofu noodle bowls come to the rescue.

They might look quite ordinary but the sauce packs a real punch, seasoning the golden tofu and noodles perfectly. It’s made using large red chillies, garlic, spring onions, soy sauce, star anise and brown sugar. A combo of ingredients I always have in the house. I throw in any vegetables I have in the fridge – usually a mix of broccoli, mushrooms, beansprouts, mange tout or French beans.

Chilli-Garlic Tofu Noodle Bowls with Crispy Fried Okra

My special touch to these is to add crispy okra strips and fried Thai basil leaves. They add the most beautiful crunch and are a delicious way of getting your okra fix as part of a dish that’s not curry. To make them, slice okra into long, thin strips, toss in a little cornflour and allow to sit for five minutes. Plunge them into hot oil and fry for 2-3 minutes until crispy and slightly golden. Try not to move them too much in the first minute to give the cornflour time to set on the okra.

To achieve a pretty red colour, I add in a couple of tablespoons of Sriracha (Thai chilli sauce made with dried red chillies and garlic). If you haven’t tried it before – where have you been? It’s the ultimate intense chilli sauce for adding instant flavour. I add it to mac and cheese, toasties, masala chips and even potato curry. It’s almost like Gujarati lasan vari chutney but in sauce form; A squidge of it in plain natural yoghurt will give you the fastest ever sauce for bhajia and samosa chaat. You can buy it in the Asian section of most supermarkets now. Look for the squeezy bottle with a rooster on the front. Even my parents, who are life-long advocates of Tabasco now prefer it.

I used Shanghai noodles here but you could just as easily use rice noodles, udon or even fresh ramen noodles. If noodles aren’t your thing, skip them and serve the stir-fried tofu and veggies with steamed jasmine rice. Garnish with the fried okra and Thai basil, then devour.

Chilli-Garlic Tofu Noodle Bowls with Crispy Fried Okra

Chilli-Garlic Tofu Noodle Bowls with Crispy Okra

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the chilli paste:
1 large red chilli
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1-inch piece ginger, peeled
3 large spring onions, trimmed and quartered
3 tbsp Sriracha
2 tbsp brown sugar
Juice and zest 1 lime

For the stir fry:
1 tbsp oil
1 star anise
100g broccoli florets
Handful mushrooms, sliced
40g mange tout
50g beansprouts
1 large red chilli
4 tbsp light soy sauce
200g golden tofu puffs
3 tbsp Sriracha
200g cooked noodles
Salt to taste

10-15 Thai basil leaves

For the crispy okra:
100g okra, sliced into long thin strips
1 tsp cornflour

Method

1. First make the crispy okra and thai basil. Cut the okra into long, thing strips, place onto a plate and dust over the cornflour. Stir to combine and set aside for 5 minutes.

2. Heat the oil in a pan. Once hot, turn the heat down and very carefully add in the Thai basil. It will crackle and spit in the first 30 seconds so stand right back. Be super careful even once it stops crackling. Fry until deep green and crispy. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place onto a place lined with kitchen paper.

3. Next, turn the heat up on the oil again and add in the okra. Don’t move them around in the first minute in order to let the cornflour set. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then remove and place onto the kitchen paper with the Thai basil. Set aside.

4. Blend together all the ingredients for the chilli paste.

5. Heat the oil in the wok, add the chilli paste and star anise. Cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring all the time.

6. Add in the broccoli, soy sauce and extra Sriracha. Next, add the rest of the vegetables except the beansprouts and chilli. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes on a high heat. Add the tofu puffs and sauté for another few minutes, adding a little water if it seems dry.

7. Add the cooked noodles, beansprouts and chilli, stirring to combine. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes and remove from the heat.

8. Serve immediately, topped with crispy okra and Thai basil.

Chilli-Garlic Tofu Noodle Bowls with Crispy Fried Okra

Love Sanjana




Tandoori Tofu Tikka Masala (Vegan)

Tandoori Tofu Tikka Masala (Vegan)

In my book, anything served on a stick is a winner. It seals the deal if what’s on the stick is smothered in a charred tandoori paste, restaurant style.

Here’s my take on a British-‘Indian’ dish. It’s loaded with homemade tandoori spices, garlic, lemon, ground almonds and coconut cream. The best thing about it is that it’s 100% vegan. That’s got to get me extra brownie points, right?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it’s not an ‘authentic Indian recipe’ and have heard far too many times, ‘Ask any Indian what tikka masala is and they won’t know.’ To this I say, ‘Whatevs’. For me, this started out as a guilty pleasure dish I’ve grown to love and adapt to my own tastes, incorporating my love for tandoori dishes. I’ve gotten over it and I promise once you’ve tried it yourself, you will too!

Tandoori Tofu Tikka Masala (Vegan)

I’ve been obsessed with tofu puffs for as long as I can remember. I like to think of them as sailboats for any sauce or spice you add. They soak in flavours like there’s no tomorrow and you don’t have to marinate them for hours. A lot of the time, we make our weeknight stir fries in a matter of minutes and thanks to these spongy little fellas, they’re filling and seriously flavoursome. In this recipe, tofu puffs the perfect carriers for my homemade tandoori paste and creamy vegan tikka masala sauce. If you like a mild curry that still packs a punch in terms of being aromatic, this one’s for you.

As compromised as I feel for not owning my own tandoor (I keep telling myself it will happen one day), this works just as well in the oven. Whack the temperature up as high as it goes and cook your skewers for about 8-10 minutes or until slightly charred. It’s also worth noting that while it’s not exactly authentic to add tomato puree to a tandoori masala paste, I do because I don’t like adding red food colouring. It’s tandoori paste, not red velvet cake. However, if you don’t like tomatoes, go ahead and add some red food colouring. This is your dish.

Tandoori Tofu Tikka Masala (Vegan)

If you can’t get tofu puffs (I get mine from our local Chinese supermarket), try this with cooked cauliflower florets, baby potatoes, paneer, mushrooms, idli pieces or anything else that will hold its own on a skewer. If you still want to use tofu but can’t get the puffed kind, try using firm tofu, weighted and pressed for a few hours to remove excess water, cubed and lightly pan-fried. I’m afraid that medium or silken tofu won’t cut it on the kebab skewer for this recipe.

Also, an FYI that I used metal kebab skewers – they get really hot so be careful if you’re using them too. If you can only get wooden skewers, soak them in cold water overnight to ensure they don’t burn in the oven.

Serve with flaky paratha, rice and lime wedges. It’s also delicious with garlic and coriander naan.

Tandoori Tofu Tikka Masala (Vegan)Tandoori Tofu Tikka Masala (Vegan)

Serves 4

Ingredients

300g tofu puffs
Fresh coriander, chopped, to garnish
Lime or lemon wedges, to garnish
Paratha or naan, to serve
Rice, to serve

For the homemade tandoori paste:
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
8 black peppercorns
2 dried red chillies (or fresh if you like)
2 inch stick cinnamon
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 star anise
4 cloves
Seeds of 4 green cardamom pods
1 black cardamom (optional)
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp concentrated tomato puree
2 tbsp coconut cream
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon juice

For the sauce:
1 tbsp oil
4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
1 tbsp grated ginger
3 red chillies, chopped (or to taste)
1 tbsp concentrated tomato puree
400g passata
2 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp garam masala
2 tbsp ground almonds
2 tsp ground green cardamom seeds
2 tsp ground fennel seeds
400ml coconut milk
1 tsp kasoori methi (optional)
2 tbsp light brown sugar
Salt, to taste

Method

1. To make the tandoori paste, heat a dry frying pan until hot. Add all the spices apart from the coconut cream, lemon juice, salt and concentrated tomato puree. Toast until aromatic, a couple of minutes but don’t leave it unattended because it can burn very easily.

2. Place all the spices in a high-powered blender or coffee grinder. I use my NutriBullet. Once ground to a fine powder, stir in the lemon juice, coconut cream, tomato puree and salt.

3. Add the tofu puffs to the paste and give them a good mix, taking care not to break the tofu pieces up. Set aside while you make the vegan tikka masala sauce.

4. Pre-heat the oven to 200C.

5. To make the vegan tikka masala sauce, heat the oil in a medium, non-stick pan. Add the garlic, ginger and chillies. Sauté for a few moments before adding the concentrated tomato puree. Cook for 5 minutes on a medium heat, stirring all the time. Add the passata, followed by the rest of the ingredients. Give it a good whisk, cover and cook on a low heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring often.

6. Lightly grease a non-stick oven tray. Skewer the tofu pieces onto your kebab sticks. Arrange on the baking tray and pop into the oven for 8-10 minutes, turning them halfway to ensure even browning. Remove from the oven.

7. Serve immediately, bringing the kebabs and sauce to the table, letting everyone mix their own sauce and tofu pieces for a bit of fun and drama. Garnish with chopped coriander, lime or lemon wedges and extra coconut cream. Serve with jalebi paratha or garlic and coriander naan and rice.

Love Sanjana

Click the image above to Pin this recipe for later.

Click the image above to Pin this recipe for later.




Best-Ever Bombay Sandwiches

Triple-decker toasted sandwiches filled with potatoes, spicy coriander and mint chutney, red onions, grilled paneer and tomatoes are what makes these pimped-up Bombay sandwiches the ultimate Indian-inspired snack.

With Indian street food vendors popping up all over the UK, selling everything from Kati Rolls to Pau Bhaji, and Masala Dosa to Samosas, we’re becoming accustomed to having delicious Indian street food on tap… and we want it fast. Not only that; but it better be damn perfect too. Believe it or not, but I’ve heard students in King’s Cross complain there’s far too much tadka on top of their dosa chutney and ajwain in their samosa pastry. We’ve become a nation of Indian street food connoisseurs and it’s bloody brilliant.

Best Ever Bombay Sandwich

Re-creating street food classics like these Bombay Sandwiches at home is so simple. Why wouldn’t it be? It’s a sandwich. But not just any sandwich. Traditional Bombay sandwiches consist of two pieces of bread with slices of boiled potato, mint and coriander chutney, onions, cucumber and tomatoes on sliced white bread, I’ve taken it a step further by adding a slice of flavour-packed toast slathered in green pistachio chutney to the middle, grilled paneer (because why the hell not), sliced gherkins (because I can’t deal with warm cucumbers, sorry) and then griddled the whole thing. It’s quite a mouthful but I reckon that’s the beauty of it.

I’ve never met another Indian who hasn’t used up leftover potato curry in toasted sandwiches the next day – it’s a no brainer. I like to think of it as the ultimate ‘Dad meal’. Quick, easy and perfect with green chutney on the inside or for dipping on the outside. Of course, a slice of cheese is optional but for me, that isn’t even worth thinking about.

Trust me when I tell you this is three layers of awesome you don’t want to miss out on.

Best Ever Bombay Sandwich 2

Best Ever Bombay Sandwiches
Makes 2 sandwiches

6 slices bloomer bread – whole wheat or white
2 large potatoes, boiled, peeled and sliced thinly
2 x 60g paneer slices, try to cut them wide
2 red onions, thinly sliced
2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
4 large pickled gherkins, thinly sliced
60g grated Cheddar
1 large avocado, sliced (optional)
Melted butter, for brushing the outsides of the bread

For the Coriander, Mint and Pistachio Chutney:

100g coriander
30g mint
2 small green chillies
6 shelled, unsalted pistachios
1 clove garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
½ tsp salt
3 tsp sugar
50ml groundnut oil

Method

1. Blitz all the ingredients for the chutney in a blender until smooth. Add a drop of water if necessary. The chutney should be the consistency of pesto.

2. Toast two slices of bread. Griddle the paneer on both sides.

3. Butter the outside of the bread and place buttered-side-down on a cold griddle. Spread some of the chutney on the top, lay over potato slices, red onions, tomatoes gherkins and a little bit of Cheddar.

4. Spread green chutney over both sides of one of the slices of toast. Place on top of your sandwich and repeat the layering process, this time adding the paneer. Take the final bread slice and spread green chutney on the inside and place chutney-side-down on the sandwich. Butter the outside of the top slice.

5. Repeat to make the other sandwich.

6. Griddle on both sides until golden, about 5 minutes.

Serve with crisps or masala chips, chai, limeade or beer and prepare to take the biggest bite of your life.

Love Sanjana




Paneer Bhurji Kati Rolls

Paneer Bhurji Kati Rolls

This is not just any old wrap. This is a flavoursome, satisfying chapatti wrap filled with rich paneer, tangy lemon and mouth-watering spices. Seriously, M&S would be proud. These kati rolls are simple, filling and perfect for lunch or dinner. You can stuff them with anything you like, from scrambled paneer to Bombay potatoes.

Traditional kati rolls come from Kolkata where they are essentially a kebab wrapped in paratha. Just like sandwiches and wraps you’ll find all over the world, from gyros to banh mi, kati rolls are a street food favourite because they lend themselves to eating on-the-go – a must in any bustling city.

Paneer Bhurji Kati Rolls (2)

My take on kati rolls combines my passion for paneer bhurji (North Indian-style spiced, scrambled paneer) and hot chapattis. I figured if I was going to fill something with pure paneer and vegetables, I’d better use a chapatti rather than ghee-filled paratha. If you’re not bothered about the extra calories, I’d recommend you go the whole hog and wrap your bhurji in hot, buttery paratha. There’s nothing quite like it.

One of my favourite places to eat in London is at Payal Saha’s The Kati Roll Company which opened after the first store in New York City's eclectic Greenwich Village was such a success. If you’ve never been to the London shop, here’s the lowdown; it’s a tiny little café-style restaurant with no more than eight tables. The walls are plastered with vintage Bollywood posters and they play filmi hits you’re more likely to bop away to at a family wedding rather than the UK’s busiest shopping hotspot. My point is that I love the Achaari Paneer Kati Rolls here – it is where the inspiration for my Paneer Bhurji Kati Rolls came from. 

If you’re up for it, try making your own Homemade Paneer. It will make a huge difference to the final texture of the paneer. However, if you’re short of time, just use shop bought – all you need to do is mash it up with a fork.

I love to cook my Paneer Bhurji in butter – it adds a delicious richness to the juicy paneer and vegetables. A squeeze of lemon juice at the end plumps up the paneer and provides the perfectly-balanced tang you’re looking for in any good paneer dish.

Paneer Bhurji Kati Rolls (4)

Paneer Bhurji Kati Rolls
(Makes 8 rolls)

450g paneer, crumbled
50g butter
1 large red onion, diced finely
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp freshly-grated ginger
2 hot red chillies, chopped finely
½  green pepper, diced finely
Handful shredded red cabbage
Handful petits pois or peas
3 spring onions, sliced at an angle
½ tsp amchur powder
1 tsp garam masala
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt
Juice of half a lemon
Fresh coriander, to garnish

8 chapattis or paratha
Salad leaves, to serve

Method

1. Melt the butter in a large pan and add the cumin seeds. Allow to sizzle a little bit, and then add the chopped red onions and red cabbage. Cook on a medium heat, stirring frequently until soft.

2. Next, add the ginger, chillies, pepper, petits pois, amchur powder, garam masala, turmeric powder and salt. Allow to cook for 5 minutes on a low heat.

3. Finish by adding the paneer and lemon juice. Cook this on a medium heat for around 5 minutes, stirring often. Don’t let this become too dry – you want the paneer to stay juicy for your kati rolls.

4. Garnish with fresh coriander and spring onions.

5. You can either serve the bhurji like a curry with hot chapattis or naan or you can make perfectly-portable kati rolls.

6. To make kati rolls, take a hot chapatti or paratha and put some filling inside. You can also add some fresh salad and chutney at this stage (I love Sriracha and green coriander chutney in these). Roll them up tightly and wrap with greaseproof paper.

Serve hot with cold lassi, beer or a steaming cuppa chai. 

Paneer Bhurji Kati Rolls (3)

Love Sanjana




Stuffed Naan Pockets with Spicy Pizza Dip

Stuffed Naan Pockets with Spicy Pizza Dip (2)

Two of my favourite things in the world are naan and pizza. I love them in all shapes and forms from classic peshwari naan to hybrid naan pizzas – especially when they involve cheese, green veggies and lashings of garlic. I’ll be honest, getting home from a long day at work and sitting down to a naan pizza made with shop-bought garlic and coriander naan and leftover paneer butter masala is one of the most incredible dinners ever! Don’t believe me? Try it yourself.

Here’s a simple recipe that celebrates my love of naan and pizza in an easy-to-eat fashion. My recipe for naan pockets uses crumbled paneer and crushed peas as a stuffing for the deliciously-light and buttery naan envelopes. They’re folded into the classic teardrop shape, brushed with a mixture of butter and turmeric, sprinkled with kalonji seeds, and then baked in a hot oven until golden.

If you’re not a fan of paneer, these are also great with a filling of grated broccoli and spinach, steamed sweet potato, and cauliflower and green chilli cooked in the exact same way as I do the paneer and peas filling.

Stuffed Naan Pockets with Spicy Pizza Dip (3)

To serve, slice the pockets in half and serve with a bowl of my spicy pizza dip which is infused with a touch of garam masala, green chillies and ground coriander.

These are the perfect party nibbles, starters for an Indian meal and a sure-fire hit with kids. I even love them for dinner, served with both the spicy pizza dip and a cooling cucumber raita.

Stuffed Naan Pockets with Spicy Pizza Dip

Stuffed Naan Pockets with Spicy Pizza Dip
Makes 18-20 mini pockets

Ingredients

For the naan dough:
310g strong white bread flour
7g fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp kalonji (nigella seeds)
1 small clove garlic
1 tbsp plain yoghurt
2 tbsp sunflower oil
135ml warm water

For the peas and paneer stuffing:
250g shop-bought paneer, cubed
130g frozen peas, thawed
1 clove garlic
2 green chillies
1 inch piece ginger, peeled
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ground black pepper
Salt to taste
1 tbsp crème fraiche
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped finely
2 tbsp sunflower oil

To brush the pockets:
Melted butter
¼ tsp turmeric
Kalonji seeds

For the spicy pizza dip:
2 large tomatoes
1 tbsp concentrated tomato paste
1 clove garlic
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

Method
First, make the naan dough. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt kalonji seeds and garlic. In a separate jug, whisk together the warm water, yeast, sugar, oil and yoghurt. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the liquid. Bring together using a spoon and then your hands. Knead for 10 minutes. The mixture may seem stick at first, but keep kneading and it’ll come together. Grease the bowl with come oil, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, blend together all the ingredients for the spicy pizza dip in a food processor. Add the mixture to a saucepan and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and allow to simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes.

To make the stuffing: in a food processor, blend the garlic, chillies and ginger. Remove and set aside. Next, pulse the peas a few times until coarsely chopped. Remove and set aside. Repeat the same process with the paneer. Bring the peas and paneer mixture together in a bowl. Heat a saucepan and add the oil. Sauté cumin seeds and the garlic, ginger and chilli mixture until aromatic. Add the peas and paneer mixture, black pepper, salt, crème fraiche and coriander and cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 190°C and line a few baking trays with greaseproof paper and spritz with non-stick cooking spray.

To fold the pockets: take the risen naan dough and knock out all of the air. Take a ping pong ball-sized amount and roll into a ball. Use and rolling pin to roll into 3-inch in diameter round. Don’t add any extra flour – the oil in the dough should stop it from sticking too much. Take a tablespoon full of the cooled stuffing mix and place into the middle of the dough. Starting with the top and bottom of the dough, pull the dough around the filling, pinching the dough to seal until you get to the outer edges. Ensure the dough is well sealed without any cracks by pinching it all together until smooth.

Roll the dough gently until around 3 inches in diameter. Then use your hands to gently pull the top of the dough into a teardrop shape. Place the other side up on the greased and lined baking tray and repeat for the rest of the pockets.

Use a sharp knife to make small holes (not all the way through) in the naan pockets. Melt the butter and whisk in the turmeric – this will give them a lovely golden colour. Brush the pockets generously with the butter mixture and sprinkle on the kalonji seeds.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until golden all over.

Stuffed Naan Pockets with Spicy Pizza Dip (2)

Serve hot from the oven with the warm spicy pizza dip.

Love Sanjana