Paneer Pakora & Boozy Chai
Last week I collaborated with Adrian & Jeremy of The Food Gays and made some festive, Diwali recipes.
The whole experience was such a blast! It was so exciting to make recipes and share the stories behind tradition and the culture in my own house with them. We talked a lot about how Diwali is celebrated in India and which recipes would be a good fit for Indians and Indian food enthusiasts all around the world. It was a challenge as there is a plethora of traditional and non traditional recipes out there – it was a difficult task to pick just a few recipes out of the whole lot that would help us capture the spirit of Diwali. Traditional Diwali menu is of course way too elaborate to cover in a couple of blog posts, so here we have picked some recipes (a drink, an appetizer, main course and a dessert) that are easy to make and are a sort of a small introduction to home cooked Indian comfort food.
Read The Food Gays version of the story here
In this post I am sharing the appetizer we made accompanied by a spiked chai drink. This combination is perfect for entertaining. The paneer pakora is crispy on the outside and soft in the center and has a punch from the cilantro chutney which is sandwiched between the two pieces of paneer. This recipe is also a good option for any family members or friends that are gluten free. Serve these pakoras with a hot boozy chai. Chai of course is a popular beverage from India but we took it to the next level by mixing it up with some Baileys. The combination of Black tea + Baileys with pronounced spice flavors is just amazing. This drink might just convert your non tea loving friends into tea drinkers!
Note: All photographs in this post have been taken by The Food Gays
Serving 2 large Cups
2 cups water
2 to 3 green cardamom pods
4 to 5 black peppercorn
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tbsp black tea leaves
2 oz Baileys
- In a medium size pot add water and bring it to a boil on medium low heat.
- In the meantime add all spices in a mortar and pestle and pound to form a coarse mix.
- Once the water stars to simmer, turn the heat a little lower and add all the spices. Cover and let simmer for a couple of minutes.
- Add tea leaves and cover it again. Let it simmer for 3 to 4 minutes and turn the heat off. Let the mixture sit without the heat on for extra 2 minutes.
- Strain into a kettle or a large measuring cup with a spout.
- Add baileys and stir. Pour into tea cups and serve.
- This drink can be reheated if you prefer to serve it hot.
Serving for 3 to 4 people
400 grams paneer
1 1/2 cups chickpeas flour
1 cup + 2 tbsp water, room temperature
1/4 cup mint chutney (recipe follows)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp amchur
2 tsp chaat masala
oil for deep frying
- If using store bought paneer, unwrap and soak in cold tap water for an hour before using. This will improve the texture of paneer.
- Once you are ready to make pakoras, remove the paneer from water and pat dry with paper towel.
- Cut the paneer into 1/4 inch thick rectangles. Cut these rectangles diagonally to get two same size triangles. Repeat with the rest of the paneer.
- Take two triangles and add a few drops of mint chutney on one of the pieces. Smear evenly using the back of a spoon. Top with the second triangle to create a paneer sandwich. Repeat with rest of the triangles, keep aside.
- Heat oil for deep frying in a wok or a large pot.
- In a large mixing bowl add chickpeas flour and mix in all the spices and salt.
- Add water in a slow stream while whisking the flour mix continuously. You want to form a lump free, smooth batter. It should be thick enough to coat the pieces of paneer.
- Once the oil is hot enough for deep frying, drop a few sandwiched paneer triangles into the batter – move and flip them in the batter to coat well on all sides. Drop 3 to 4 pieces of battered paneer sandwiches into hot oil and fry them (flipping a couple of times for even color) till they turn golden. Remove from oil using a slotted spoon and place them on a tray lined with paper towel. Repeat with all the pieces.
- Serve hot with extra cilantro & mint chutney.
Serving 1/2 cup
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup mint leaves
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 serano pepper, seeds removed
2 tbsp ice cold water
Add all ingredients to a food processor. Blitz until smooth. Keep covered with plastic
wrap and chilled in refrigerator until needed.