Paneer tikka

Paneer tikka is a very popular Tandoori starter in India. It can be easily prepared at home in your own oven almost like restaurant style. Paneer tikka is a vegetarian Tandoori starter delight without which any Indian restaurant menu is incomplete. Paneer tikka is baked in the oven or grilled after marinating the vegetables and paneer (Indian cottage cheese) in a blend of spices and yoghurt.

Preparation time: 20 mins (excluding marination time)

Cooking time: 20 mins

Cuisine: North Indian

Spiciness: Mild

Serves: 3 to 4

Ingredients

  • Paneer – 250 gms
  • Marinade

  • Yoghurt (hung curd) – 1 cup
  • Kashmiri chilli powder- 1 tsp
  • Roasted Cumin powder – 2 tsp
  • Roasted coriander powder (coarse) – 2 tsp
  • Ginger and garlic paste – 2 tsp
  • Garam masala – 1 tsp
  • Nutmeg powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Black pepper powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Chaat masala – 2 tsp
  • Lemon juice – 2 tbsp
  • Food colour (biryani colour/red, optional) – 1/4 tsp
  • Kasuri methi – 1 tsp
  • Oil – 1 tbsp
  • Vegetables

  • Red bell pepper – 2
  • Green bell pepper – 2
  • Yellow bell pepper - 1
  • Onion – 1
  • Additional ingredients

  • Melted butter or ghee
  • Coriander leaves
  • Lemon/lime wedge
  • Chaat masala

Method

    Making hung curd

  • Take a bowl and place a muslin cloth in tea strainer. Keep the tea strainer on the bowl. Pour the fresh curd.
  • Bring the four corners of the muslin cloth together and tie one corner tightly around the rest. Gently press. You will see the whey dripping. Now optionally place a small bowl or lid on the tied muslin. Keep the whole thing in the fridge for 4 to 5 hours or even overnight.
  • When you open the cloth after resting in the fridge, you will see that the hung curd is ready. The bowl will contain the liquid from the yoghurt.
  • Cutting the paneer and veggies

  • Cut the paneer into squares, 1/2 inch thick.
  • Cut all the vegetables into squares, roughly about the same size as the paneer.
  • Soak the wooden/bamboo skewers in water for about 30 mins to prevent the skewers from burning.
  • Marination and preparing the skewers

  • Combine all the ingredients - yoghurt, roasted cumin powder, salt, oil and other remaining ingredients.
  • Add hung curd/yoghurt and mix well.
  • Add the paneer and the vegetables to the marinade and let it rest for about 3 hours to overnight in the fridge. Remove from the fridge about 30 mins before cooking.
  • Pierce each vegetable and paneer alternatively to the skewers or as per your order of choice.
  • Cooking in oven

  • Preheat the oven to 240 degrees celsius (fan) and apply or brush the rack with little oil/melted butter, so that the paneer does not stick. Place on the baking tray or roasting pan.
  • Place the paneer skewers on the rack and bake for about 5 mins.
  • Brush with melted butter/ghee on both sides and turn. Cook for another 5 mins or until charred at edges. Remember not to overcook the paneer as it becomes dry and will not be soft.
  • Take out the baking tray from the oven. At this stage, you can serve immediately after basting the paneer skewers with butter/ghee.
  • Optionally, for more charred colour, the final stage. Switch on the broiler or oven grill.
  • Brush or baste the paneer skewers with butter/ghee (optional) evenly on all side and grill/broil in the oven for 1 to 2 mins only or until you get the brown or charred colour on the edges.
  • Carefully remove the baking tray/roasting pan as the paneer will be really soft.
  • Serving

  • Once cooked, brush the paneer tikka with butter/ghee and serve immediately on a serving platter.
  • Sprinkle chaat masala and coriander leaves on the Tandoori paneer tikka and serve as a starter. Serve with lemon/lime wedge, sliced onions and any sauce you like.

Notes

  • I have brushed my paneer skewers with melted ghee. You can use melted butter.
  • You can see that I have brushed the paneer with melted ghee many times. This is to keep the paneer from drying out. You may wish to do less of brushing with melted ghee.
  • If you want, you can cook the paneer in the grill as well.
  • The marinade should be thick, not watery.
  • The marinade should get well coated on the vegetables and paneer. There is no need to brush the vegetables with the marinade again and again while cooking.
  • Brush oil/ghee/butter on the griddle or baking tray so that the paneer does not stick to the pan or griddle.
  • Threading the vegetables or paneer can be done in any order as per your choice, but skewer it very closely.
  • Soak the wooden skewers in water for at least two hours before baking. This will prevent burning of the skewer.

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