Paneer Tikka

An extremely popular dish from North India, Paneer Tikka is a blend of cottage cheese marinated overnight in yogurt and spices and grilled to perfection the next day along with bright bell peppers and red onions. The yogurt and spice blends seeps into the cottage cheese making it very aromatic and flavorful.

I added chopped fresh mint leaves to the marinade- it gave the mixture a nice, fresh spark of flavor. Ginger and garlic are of course standard flavor enhancers in Indian cooking. Also, in Indian cooking its all about balancing the yin and yang of a meal- for e.g, cool yogurt is balanced by the heat from the spices and ginger.

I put the marinated cottage cheese and cubed veggies on skewers and broiled it in the oven till it turned a beautiful shade of golden on all the sides. Alternatively it can be thrown on a grill- and that might make it taste even better. All the smoke from the grill should only enhance the flavor of this dish. So, the next time your friends are having a barbecue and you are surrounded with all that grilled chicken and shrimp- make paneer tikka for yourself and your friends.

Traditionally this dish is pared with a tandoori roti  or a naan with mint chutney. But, if you are not in the mood to make a trip to an Indian restaurant to get the bread, you can also eat it with couscous!

Makes 5 skewers
Marination time- overnight or a minimum of 8 hours
cooking time 20 – 25 min.

Things you will need:
10 oz cubed cottage cheese
1 cubed red bell pepper (medium size)
1 cubed green bell pepper (medium size)
1/2 cubed  red onion
For the marinade
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tbs chaat masala
3 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 clove minced garlic
3 tsp minced ginger
2 tbs finely chopped fresh mint
2 tsp pomegranate seeds (optional)

Put yogurt in a cheese cloth or a sieve with fine mesh for a couple of hours so that the water is completely drained- this step is very important because you want the yogurt to be thick enough to coat the cottage cheese nicely. In a large mixing bowl put yogurt and add all the spices- mix well till combined properly. Add in the ginger, garlic and mint leaves and mix some more. Add cubed cottage cheese and with a flat spatula mix everything very lightly (you don’t want thepaneer to crumble) till the marinade coats the cottage cheese nicely. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge overnight or a minimum of 8 hours. Add in the cubed bell peppers and red onions to this mixture 2 hours before you plan to cook it. Arrange cottage cheese, bell peppers and onions on skewers and place them on a non stick, oven proof dish. Broil on high till it turns golden on each side- approx 15 min per side. You will have to turn the skewers in between so that its cooked on all the sides. Once cooked, take out from the oven, squeeze some fresh lemon and serve with naan, tandoori roti or over a bed of couscous, with mint chutney.