Recipe of the Week: This summer salad is topped with fried, cumin-spiced paneer
I enjoy fried cubes of tofu, but I particularly like fried paneer, the pressed Indian cheese that's easy to cut into cubes and fry until the edges get crispy.
In this summer salad from Chetna Makan's new book, "Chetna's Healthy Indian" (Mitchell Beazley, $29.99), the author coats the paneer in a mixture of yogurt, cumin, turmeric and salt before frying in sunflower oil. You could serve these cumin-spiced paneer cubes with rice, vegetables or as an appetizer, but Makan's suggestion of serving them with a salad is a good one when you're looking for meals to make when it's too hot to turn on the oven.
The garlic-peanut dressing is spicy and savory enough to go on all kinds of salads, meats and sandwiches. Adjust the heat to your liking, though. Chiles, including the long slender Thai red chiles, vary in heat, so go easy if you know you're using a hot variety or are sensitive to heat.
Cumin Paneer Salad
If you are craving a salad that has a massive flavor kick and a crisp, crunchy texture, it’s time to reach for this recipe. The peanut, garlic and chile dressing will bring any combination of mixed salad leaves to life, while yogurt makes the delicious cumin-flavored paneer soft and creamy. To transform this into a vegan recipe, replace the paneer and yogurt with some grilled cauliflower or roast potatoes.
— Chetna Makan
1/3 cup unsweetened yogurt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
8 ounces paneer, cut into rectangles
7 ounces mixed salad leaves
Sliced red chile, to garnish
For the dressing:
2 teaspoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons toasted peanuts
1/2-1 red chile, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water
Firstly, prepare the paneer. Combine the yogurt, cumin, turmeric and salt in a bowl. Add the paneer pieces, mix well and leave to marinate for 10 minutes.
To make the dressing, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add the peanuts, chile and salt and cook for a few seconds more, using less chile if you are sensitive to heat.
Transfer the peanut mixture to a mini food processor, add the remaining oil and the measured water and blitz the mixture to a paste.
Set the frying pan you used to make the dressing over medium heat. Heat the sunflower oil then add the paneer pieces and fry for 1 minute on each side, until slightly golden. Transfer them to a bowl, cover closely with plastic wrap (to keep the paneer soft) and set aside while you prepare the salad.
Arrange the salad leaves in a large serving bowl. Pour over the dressing and toss well. Lay the paneer pieces on top, scatter over some sliced red chile to garnish and serve immediately. Serves 4.
— From "Chetna's Healthy Indian: Everyday family meals. Effortlessly good for you" by Chetna Makan (Mitchell Beazley, $29.99)