In Which We Make Paneer Shashlik

Enjoy with beer and Indian nibbles

So this is one of the fiancé’s recipe: his take on the paneer shashlik we usually order from the local take-away (which, thankfully, still delivers to our new flat). It’s not a proper shashlik, which is usually cooked on skewers (I’m pretty sure ‘shashlik’ means skewer or cooked on a skewer), as we just bake everything in the oven.

This is a very simple recipe – cut everything up, chuck in a deep baking tray with spices, then bake. A one-pot dish, if you like that kinda thing. He also whipped up a super-garlicky tzatziki twist on the usual mint sauce, which was amaze-balls! We had it with some pre-made Indian nibbles (bhajis, pakoras and samosas – these aren’t GF, BTW), but you could have this on its own or with rice or naan. (Fun fact: ‘naan’ means ‘bread’, so when you say ‘naan bread’ you’re really saying ‘bread bread’.)

Paneer Shashlik

Serves 2 on its own or 4 as a part of a meal

For the paneer
2 large red peppers, cut into chunks
2 large tomatoes, halved
1 white onion, quartered
6 garlic cloves (unpeeled)
2 packets paneer, thickly sliced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon hot chilli power
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
coriander (optional)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

For the mint tzatziki
1/2 cucumber
4 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons garlic purée
juice of 1/2 lemon
handful of mint, leaves picked
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 200˚C (180˚C fan).

Put all the vegetables and the paneer into a deep baking tray, scatter over the spices, drizzle over the oil and season with plenty of salt. Mix everything together well with your hands (hand are best, but if you’re squeamish about the mess, you could instead use a large spoon ). Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Check the paneer is nice and crispy on the outside but not burnt. Give it an extra 15 minutes, if needed.

Meanwhile, prepare the tzatziki. Grate or julienne the cucumber and squeeze out as much excess juice as possible. (Julienne means ‘cut into short, thin strips’; you can do this using a julienne peeler – so much easier than cutting by hand.) In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice and half the mint leaves, then season to taste. Stir in the cucumber, then scatter over the remaining mint leaves.

Dish up the paneer and roasted veggies and season generously with freshly ground pepper (I like a mix of red, green and black peppercorns, but whatever rocks your boat). Scatter over some fresh coriander (if that’s your jam – the fiancé loves it but I think it’s incredibly disgusting and ruins any dish, so the photo above is his plate.) Serve alongside the cooked paneer shashlik, and any nibbles or sides you want.

In Which I Make Almond Pancakes

Almond pancakes

As I mentioned in my last post, with all this free time I’ve been cooking a lot more lately and I promised more recipes, so here’s one to start off the day. It’s nice to spend a little more time of breakfast when you can; over the weekend, or if you have a day off (or work from home, as I do now). When I was commuting into the city breakfast would be a scrambled bowl of cereal or porridge at my desk, or a sugary muffin on the way in, or just a latte, because the work whirlwind started as soon as I sat down at my desk in the morning. I’ve learnt that it’s important to take care over your food – and consequently over yourself.

I’ve also been cutting down my milk intake recently (because I can’t bear to cut out cheese – cheese is life!), as drinking all those lattes for breakfast used to bloat me out in the morning so I got into the habit of trying non-dairy milks in my lattes. Loads of the chain coffee shops have started stocking them, so it’s easier than ever now. My favourite for drinking is oat milk (tastes like a cuddle for my stomach – or not; just ignore the weirdo here), but it’s quite difficult to find in the supermarket so at home I usually get almond or coconut milk. I use the latter in the recipe below, as I find it’s better for sweet foods, but you can substitute with any other plant milk you like, or even regular cow’s milk if you’re happy with dairy.

Coconut milk pancake batter!

I use dairy-free butter to fry the pancakes; I find some kind of butter is the best thing to fry pancakes in, but you can use oil if you prefer; it might just not sizzle or brown as much as butter/butter-substitute would. I’m using almond flour (also called almond meal or ground almonds, depending where you buy, though you’ll find from some producers it’s a little finer/courser), which cuts down on the carbs and increases the protein – if you’ve not had almond-flour pancakes you might find the texture a little too mealy for your taste. If that’s the case (and you’re fine to eat gluten), try starting out with a half-and-half mix of almond flour and plain flour and slowly changing the ratio until you have 100% almond.

On to the recipe –

Almond Pancakes
Serves 2, or 1 hungry person (makes 4 small pancakes or 2 large)

6 heaped tablespoons almond flour
1 organic egg
6 tablespoons coconut milk
3–4 knobs dairy-free butter
Fresh raspberries (or other fresh fruit; I used half a punnet here)
Honey (or agave nectar)

Place the almond flour in a jug or mixing bowl. (I use a jug as it’s easier to pour.) Break in the egg and mix together with a fork or small whisk. Add one tablespoon of the milk at a time, stirring each time to incorporate. (This helps it keep from going lumpy.)

Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and add a knob of butter. When the butter has melted and is sizzling, give the mixture another quick stir then pour in a quarter. Twist the pan the move the mixture around if you prefer a wider pancake. Fry until starting to brown on the underside (about 2 minutes), then flip. The almond flour makes the pancake a bit less flexible and more brittle than regular pancakes, so I’d advise flipping with a spatula rather than tossing it, to avoid a broken cake (and disappointment first thing in the morning). Fry on this side until golden brown (about 1 minute), then deposit onto a plate.

Repeat for the remaining batter, adding additional knobs of butter as needed, until you have 4 pancakes. I like to add a little drizzle of honey on each layer, but dress the layers how you fancy – you can squeeze raspberries in each layer or reserve them all for the top like I did here. Top with a handful of raspberries each (or more if you want) and drizzle over with honey. Serve immediately, eat, then make more if you’re super hungry!