Just for dad: A spicy turn on grilled cheese
When it comes cooking, my father has never really strayed into the kitchen. Once, when my mother was away, he made himself a "salad" using a can of tuna, a red pepper and a cucumber and called me (and a handful of others) as enthusiastically as if he'd won the lottery to let us all know.
In search of something celebratory to cook for him on Father's Day, I asked him what his favorite dish was. He replied, "Anything you or your mother cook for me is always the best" — a good answer from a man who would otherwise be eating tuna salad every day.
But the joy of being my father's daughter is that I know the things that make him stop and smile for a moment. And that thing, for my father, is cheese, in particular paneer.
Paneer is Indian unsalted white cheese. It has a mild flavor so takes to marinades really well and unlike most cheeses, it can be grilled without melting so that it softens in the middle and chars on the edges.
This marinade is for the dish known as paneer tikka in India. It's made with some pantry staples like coriander, cumin, chili powder and yogurt. The marinade gives the paneer an addictive, lip-smacking and savory flavor.
And the bonus: This low-effort-high-reward dish doesn't take much time to whip up, leaving you more time to spend with your father.
SPICY GRILLED PANEER
The paneer is best served hot with a salad, raita and some Indian flatbreads, like roti or naan. Paneer is more widely available in Asian supermarkets, specialist stores and online. You'll also need some skewers.
Start to finish: 30 minutes
4 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1 lemon, juiced, plus extra wedges to serve
1 tablespoon chickpea flour
4 large cloves of garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
1 -1/2 teaspoons red chili powder
1 tablespoon canola or other neutral oil
1 lb paneer
2 handfuls of fresh coriander, chopped
2 bell peppers, cubed
1 red onion, cut into 8
1 small zucchini, thickly sliced
Blend the yogurt, lemon juice, chickpea flour, garlic, cumin, coriander, salt and chili powder together in a blender, then tip the marinade into a bowl. Add a handful of chopped coriander and mix.
Cut the paneer blocks into 9 equal sized cubes and add to the marinade. Stir to mix. Then thread each of your skewers alternately with the onion, pepper, zucchini and paneer.
To cook the paneer, coat griddle pan with oil and heat pan until very hot. Lightly oil the pan so the paneer doesn't stick. Place the skewers onto the pan and turn every minute or so until they are evenly cooked and a little charred on each side.
Serve with fresh coriander and lemon wedges.
Nutrition information per serving: 443 calories; 284 calories from fat; 32 g fat (19 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 114 mg cholesterol; 416 mg sodium; 13 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 28 g protein.
Meera Sodha is an Indian foods expert and author of "Made in India: Recipes from an Indian family kitchen." She lives in London, blogs at www.meerasodha.com and tweets at @meerasodha
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