Are you trying to get me to eat my colours?
May be! ‘Eat your colours’ has become a buzz word these days and everyone is trying to come up with ways to make you eat all sorts of vegetables and fruits. Why did it take us a half century to realise that outsourcing the food production to to mega corporations has meant that they we are eating poor-quality, processed food laden with sugars, fats and chemicals?
I was lucky enough that I grew up in India where food is still cooked fresh from scratch daily in most homes and there is a minimal industrialisation of food preparation. My parents, more than most, weren’t too keen on anything not cooked at home. And we were mostly vegetarian. All of this meant that I grew up eating fresh, cooked-from-scratch, plant-based food flavoured with lots of herbs and spices. We ate all the colours without even having to think!
Sometimes, the difference between cultures makes me wonder why is it that food was so quickly industrialised in the West? Is it that West didn’t have a strong food culture, especially in the new world? Is it because western food lends itself to easy manufacturing? Or is that the industrialisation targeted western foods because people had more disposable income?
I believe it’s some combination of all these factors. However, I am glad that the tide is turning and people are become more aware of what is lost when you hand over the preparation of your food to a large corporation. The enjoyment and satisfaction of cooking with your own hands and sharing it with friends and family is such a wonderful experience and something that everyone should experience regularly.
I made the haryala paneer with coriander and mint, for friends who came over for dinner recently. It was a big hit! Haryala means green and it’s the coriander and mint leaves which gives it the green colour. It’s a perfect starter dish for dinner parties as you can prep it in advance and it takes barely 15 minutes to cook. I hope you enjoy it!
- 500 gram paneer cottage cheese, sliced into 1-2 inch cubes
- 1 large onion (2-3 inch in diameter) sliced into one-inch cubes
- 2 large bell peppers sliced into one-inch cubes
- 3-4 green chillis
- 200 gram fresh coriander leaves with thick stalks removed
- 50 grams fresh mint leaves with thick stalks removed
- 5-6 garlic cloves more if garlic cloves are small
- 1-2 inch ginger
- 2-3 tbsp gram flour (besan) optional
- 1 cup natural yogurt
- 2 tbsp lemon juice from fresh lemons
- 2 tbsp garam masala
- 2 tsp chat masala
- 1 tsp ajwain (caraway seeds)
- 1 tbsp kasoori methi
- salt to taste
- Hang the yogurt in a cheese cloth to drain out the excess water, 45 minutes to an hour.
- Roast the gram flour on a low heat until it becomes fragrant (5-6 minutes). Stir constantly so that it doesn't burn.
- Grind the ginger, garlic, green chillies, mint and coriander with one tbsp water.
- Add the spices, gram flour and salt to the mix.
- Remove the yogurt from the cheese cloth and mix in the with rest of the ingredients.
- Add in the cheese, onions and bell pepper in the mix.
- Cover it and keep it in the fridge either overnight or for 3-4 hours.
- Just before serving, turn on the oven to 250 degrees centigrade.
- Add the paneer, onion and bell pepper on the skewers.
- Once the oven is hot, put the skewers in the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes. Make sure that the edges are just slightly burnt.
- Remove from the oven and squeeze lime juice and sprinkle chaat masala on the paneer.
- Serve hot with tamarind chutney and sliced onions.
Coriander and mint paneer tikka