Welcome to the adventures of a Culinary explorer...

Welcome to the adventures of a Culinary explorer...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Shahi Paneer Bliss

For my dad's birthday dinner, we made Shahi Paneer-- Indian cottage cheese in a creamy curry. Mom taught me how to make this dish. WARNING: Like many great tasting things, this is a FATTY dish, and very worth it. Enjoy!

-Take two large white onions, peel and boil them in water until they are tender and soft.
-Put them in a blender and mash to make onion paste.
-Warm the pan and melt have a stick of butter. When melted, add the onion paste.
-Stir to avoid burning the onion-butter paste until the paste is brown. Approx. 15 minutes.
-Add one teaspoon of paprika.
-Now for the tomato paste. You can either be lazy and use tomato puree, or take four tomatoes, boil them, and mash, just like the onions. Add the paste/puree. Approx. 6-7 tablespoons.
-Keep stirring. Now add salt to taste, and Shahi Paneer Masala (available at any Indian store). Stir.
-Cut the block of Paneer (also available at any Indian store) into cubes, and add to the sizzling curry.
-Mix carefully trying not to break the cubes. Add a cup of water to the pan and let it simmer.
-When the paneer cubes are well covered with the curry, add about two tablespoons of creme to make a silky curry. Turn off stove before adding creme.
-Garnish with fresh cilantro and devour!

Here's what the dish looked like:

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Comfort Food

This morning, I lay in bed till 10:30 am, and woke up from the smell of fresh biscuits and poached eggs. Breakfast came in bed (Indian mothers pamper like none other), followed by freshly squeezed juice. The eggs tasted great, everything did. Something wasn't quite right, not with the food, but with me. I dragged my robe cased body around the house like a zombie, didn't even care for my precious morning tea. Mom and dad left at 11 o'clock soon after to do the regular weekend grocery shopping. I usually go with mom (and get distracted by the bread aisle), but I had absolutely zero motivation. I bopped around the house, scavenging for ways to get my mind off of crappy high school drama. (Dear lovely little chilluns who imagine high school similar to "High School Musical", let me pop your bubbles now. Disney lied.)

I layed on my bed, on the couch, my brother's bed, and nothing seemed to work. My brother, Aakash, cannot hold a conversation if he's on the computer, which occurs most of the time, including now. I closed my eyes with Aakash's computer humming and the clock tick-tocking in the background. The two sounds fused together into a hypnotic chant, and I found myself drifting to the buzzing lullaby. And before you know it, the doorbell breaks the spell. Aakash got the door, and my dad came barging in and commanding for us to get the groceries inside and put away while mom and him ran another errand. Dizzy from half sleep, I staggered to get the bags inside (this was my first purpose of the day).

Bags of grocery are very similar to the little treasure chests in Zelda that play an exciting tune when opened. One by one I opened these bags (Zelda treasure chest music playing in the background) and collected the edible treasure. Cheese buns, chibata, mushrooms, Kashi dishes, banana peppers, cheese, more cheese, tea snacks, cookies, Tusconi, honey almonds, an assortment of yogurts, and oh so much more. (Reader, have you tried the new Yoplait lite flavored yogurts yet? They come in flavors like key lime pie, chocolate mousse, pineapple upside down cake, and many more. I tried my first today--a chocolate mousse. DIVINE. Who knew yogurt could be fluffy, chocolaty, AND have good portions of Vitamins A and D, and protein? Must try.)

For lunch, mom called to ask if I could slice some onions and start sautéing. After putting all the treasures away, Aakash and I got to the onions. The pan hot with melted butter lay agape to be fed. Onions simmering in a pan with butter sing to me. This time they sang, "It's OK Henna, don't worry. We'll always be there for you, golden brown and ever divine." (I guess that'd be somewhat of a rap. You get to figure out the beat.) I stood there with my spatula, stirring the onions around, their fumes intoxicating me with more purpose. "We got you girl, food will never let you down. We love you."
The singing got louder. The bell peppers, tomatoes, cottage cheese, and spices combined to form a plethora of pep talk operas. And before you know it, my family was huddled around the sizzling butter scented kitchen like a pack of hungry, happy bears. Their laughter seemed to fuse together with the food singing in my head. The beat became hypnotic, echoing with only one repetitive chorus.

"We love you."