Kandhari Paneer Tikka!
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I have a confession to make that I begin with: I have trust issues with oven for inexplicable reason. Have I used it for more than reheating ( it is a microwave + convection oven ) ? Yes sure, plenty of times! But can I find courage to do new things from a recipe when I stumble across one? No, a trembling in my voice no. So, while I have baked bread and occasionally cooked stuff in my oven, I have tried to make the popular Indian starter named Paneer Tikka only once before and it didn’t work out for reasons unknown to me. I still don’t know why but this time around it worked. So I thought this merits a blog post. So, without any further small talk, here it is.
The image is from my own instagram account and can be found here
Recipe ( adapted from the recipe of Kandhari Murg Tikka in Maunika Gowardhan’s Cookbook Indian Kitchen ) Ingredients:
200 gms of Paneer, cubed, ( for folks in Bengaluru, I highly recommend Milky Mist brand of paneer for tikkas and no I am not compensated or sponsored to say this. For making curries, any brand works for me but for paneer tikka , the fat content of the paneer has to be high enough that the inside of the paneer cube stays soft after the charring of the exterior )
1 Capsicum and 1 onion, cubed or quartered,
3 tbsp of thick set curd/Greek Yogurt,
2 tsp of bengal gram flour/Besan, ( add and extra tsp each of the curd and Besan if your curd isn’t thick set ),
4 fat cloves of garlic & 1″ pinch of ginger, pound to a smooth paste with salt a few drops of water,
1 tbsp of Anardana + 1/2 tsp of cumins seeds + 1/2 tsp of coriander seeds, coarsely ground, ( you can use the powdered forms but I felt that the texture they add made a difference)
( 1 tbsp of Tamarind paste + 1 tbsp of sugar ) OR 3 tbsp of pomegranate molasses, ( or more , adjust as needed until the marinade tastes faintly sweet and a little more than faintly sour ) ( the purpose of either of these two ingredients is to provide stickiness and the sweet sour flavour profile to the marinade )
1 tsp of Kashmiri/Bydagi Chilli powder or mildly hot paprika,
Salt, a tsp to start with or to taste,
Melted butter / Ghee / oil to baste,
Method: In a mixing bowl, mix together the thick set curd, bengal gram flour, ginger garlic paste, Anardana cumin coriander powder, tamarind paste + sugar / pomegranate molasses, salt and chilli powder. Mix well. The marinade should be thick in consistency and should stick to the pieces of paneer and vegetables. But it should not feel too floury / heavy on gram flour like a pakora batter either. So adjust the amount of gram flour as needed. Add the paneer, capsicum and onions and coat them well with the marinade. Lest it rest for 20 mins atleast or more. If you are using meat, it will need longer marination. When you are ready to cook, preheat your oven on the grill mode. You can use skewers pre-soaked in water to skewer the pieces. Place them on a wire rack and grill for 10 minutes. Stop at 5 minutes, baste with melted butter or Ghee and grill more depending on the progress/browning and grill until the edges have a charred appearance. I didn’t want to skewer them so I simply arranged them in a baking tray. Place on the upper rack/rack closer to your heating element ( my oven has a coil on top and the turntable at the bottom, so I placed the tray on the wire rack and moved to closer to heating element ) and grill them for 10 mins, same as above, basting with butter or Ghee midway and adjusting the time appropriately. If your combi oven doesn’t have a grill mode, use convection mode ( NOT MICROWAVE ) it might take a little longer but it will work. I know you would like to have a stove top alternative to this. I have made it only on stove top until now so I totally know what you mean. You can shallow fry in a nonstick / cast iron pan. However, I will have to tell you that while stove top version is delicious, if you have an oven, use it instead of the pan. It is worth the effort. The difference lies in the mode of heat. In the oven, the cooking occurs mostly via the hot air transferring its heat to the food and less dies direct contact with an extremely hot surface . In a pan/on a stove top, the cooking happens via direct contact with hot surface. As a result, I find that more often that not, the flour in the marinade, used to prevent the spices from burning and keep the marinade sticking to the tikkas, sticks to the pan and comes off the paneer pieces. Also it lacks the smoky flavour for obvious reasons. If it is the only option of cooking for you, by all means go for it! :)