Easy chole and paneer recipes for a fulfilling meal

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YouTuber extraordinaire Archana Doshi released a cookbook in July titled “30 Meal Plans from Archana’s Kitchen: Easy Vegetarian Indian Recipes for Good Health.” It features a detailed and comprehensive list of recipes from all over India with eclectic pairings. For example, the Karnataka-style Huli Soppu Saaru (tangy curry with fresh greens) is served with methi carrot thepla, or the Gujarati valor muthia nu shaak (eggplant fava bean stir-fry with fenugreek leaf dumplings) is accompanied by Bengali dal cholar.

It is a cookbook of ideas launched just in time as Raksha Bandhan kicks off the festive season. Here are two chole and paneer recipes, taken from the book, that are worthy of a comforting lunch.

Jaisalmer ke Chole
Cooked in ghee and whole spices, this delicious dish will make your mouth water just by looking at it. The chef who shared this recipe with me told me that to get the most delicious tasting chole, it is important to add 250 grams of ghee per 1 kilogram of chole. Without a doubt, the ghee added that lovely texture and taste that we enjoy as a family – we almost finished the breakfast buffet counter chole by ourselves. To replicate the dish at home, I tweaked the recipe to make it healthier by adding far less ghee while retaining its lip-smacking flavor.

Ingredients
2 cups kabuli chana, soaked for 8 hours
4 tablespoons of ghee
2 onions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 inches ginger, finely chopped
2 inch cinnamon stick
4 cloves
2 torn bay leaves
2 brown cardamom (badi elaichi)
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
Half teaspoon of turmeric powder
Half teaspoon of red chilli powder
Half teaspoon of coriander powder
Half teaspoon of garam masala powder
1 tbsp chana masala powder
Salt to taste
A handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped

Method
Pressure cook the soaked kabuli chana with a little salt and enough water so that it is at least 2 inches above the chana, over high heat for 4 whistles. After the whistles, lower the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes so that the chana is well cooked. Then turn off the heat and let the pressure release naturally. The chana should be so soft that when you squeeze it between your fingers, it will crush easily. Keep this cooked chana aside.

Heat the ghee in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, ginger and garlic. Sauté until the onions have become soft and lightly browned. Add the whole spices – cinnamon, cloves, badi elaichi, bay leaves – and sauté for a few seconds until you can smell the aromas.

Add chopped tomatoes, turmeric powder, red chili powder, garam masala powder, coriander powder and chana masala powder. Sauté until the tomatoes become mushy and soft.

Once the tomatoes become mushy, add the cooked kabuli chana. Mix well, check the salt and add more if necessary. Cover the pot and simmer the chole for about 40 minutes so that the flavors seep deep into the chana. Add a little water to adjust the consistency of the chole sauce.

Once cooked, turn off the heat and stir in the chopped coriander leaves. Transfer the chole to a serving bowl and serve hot.

15 minute paneer masala
Quick, nutritious and easy, this amazing sauce will be a reason for you to start cooking your meals, because it can’t be as simple as this recipe. The paneer is simmered in a light and nutritious honey tomato sauce.

Tip: As you mash the tomatoes, add a few carrots to the mash to up the nutrient quotient of the sauce. You can serve this dish with tawa paratha for a quick weeknight dinner.

Ingredients
1 teaspoon of ghee
1 onion, finely chopped
1 inch ginger, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
6 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh cream
Half teaspoon of garam masala powder
Half teaspoon of coriander powder
A quarter teaspoon of turmeric powder
1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
1 tablespoon of honey
250g paneer cut into cubes
1 tablespoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
Salt to taste

Method
Put the cut tomatoes in a blender and make a smooth purée and set aside. Heat the ghee in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and sauté until the onions soften and turn lightly golden. Once browned, add the tomato puree, turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder, salt, paneer, honey and cream. Quickly mix all the ingredients. Increase the heat and let the paneer masala sauce boil quickly. Then cover the pan, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. When finished, stir, check the salt and spices and adjust to your taste. Turn off the heat and transfer the paneer masala to a serving bowl, add the kasuri methi and serve hot.

The cover of 30 meal plans from Archana’s Kitchen

Retrieved courtesy of 30 Meal Plans from Archana’s Kitchen, HarperCollins India, Rs. 399

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