Paneer Korma, Saag Paneer and Quorn Veg Pie

After (finally) finishing my last exam yesterday, I expect to go on a baking binge in the very near future – but not too soon, as I still have one piece of coursework to go. Here’s my supervisor for the day.

DSC_0001[1]This isn’t actually my cat. It’s the neighbourhood cat, Poppy, who meowed until I let her in from the rain. Here she is making herself at home on my bed.

In spite of university commitments, though, I always make time for procrastibaking. Owing to the fact I hold food very dearly, I can’t live on ready meals or basic pasta, like most students. But equally, I would feel quite guilty if I spent a lot of time preparing anything too fancy. So, if there are any students out there looking to make a quick, easy, and more exciting meal, look no further.

First up, it’s my Paneer Korma. Paneer is a type of cheese produced in South Asia, often used in vegetarian curries. It’s also one of my favourite foods, and goes especially well with a plain naan or brown rice. Surprisingly, my housemates (who are Indian and Pakistani) genuinely approve of my curries, even though they have a distinctive Anglicised flavour. You can make your own naan if you want, but supermarket ones are just as good.

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Ingredients (Serves 3-4):

1 block of paneer (225 g), cut into cubes
1 can chopped tomatoes
1/2-1tsp chilli flakes/powder (depending on how spicy you like it)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp curry powder
NB: All ingredients in bold can be replaced with a spice packet such as Schwartz’s Slow Cookers Chicken Curry, if you don’t want to buy all the individual spices.
1-2 tbsp sugar
Mushrooms (optional)
Red pepper (optional)
60-100ml single cream
Pinch of salt and pepper
Coriander leaves to garnish (dried is fine).

Method

  • Heat 1tbsp of sunflower oil in a wok or deep pan, and saute the mushrooms, cubed paneer, spices and any veg together until paneer is browned on all sides.
  • Add the can of chopped tomatoes, mix, and cook on a medium heat for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the cream, salt and pepper, mix for a couple of minutes over the heat. Depending on how saucy you like your curry, you can choose to reduce it further for a few minutes, but keep an eye on it.
  • Serve garnished with a few coriander leaves on top, with rice and/or naan.

 

Another curry that’s a favourite with my housemates is saag paneer, which like saag aloo features spinach as a primary ingredient. You can use frozen spinach in place of fresh spinach, because it works just as well and is easier to keep.

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Ingredients (serves 3-4)

2-3 bunches/handfuls of spinach
300g frozen peas
225g paneer, cubed
1 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp coriander leaves

1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp onion granules
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp garam masala
1/2 ground turmeric
1/2-1tsp chilli powder/flakes (vary depending on how spicy you like it)
NB: All ingredients in bold can be replaced with a spice packet such as Schwartz’s Slow Cookers Chicken Curry, if you don’t want to buy all the individual spices.
3 cloves garlic/ 3 squirts of garlic puree
1/4 can chopped tomatoes or 1 tomato
115ml single cream or coconut milk
1 tsp salt and pepper

Method

  • Boil the spinach and peas together in a saucepan for 3 minutes. Drain, then puree using a blender, smoothie maker, food processor etc.
  • Heat 1 tbsp sunflower oil in a wok or deep pan, then fry the spices and paneer cubes until browned on all sides (5 mins).
  • Add the tomato and garlic and mix.
  • Stir in the spinach and pea mixture, then add the cream and stir until thoroughly mixed.
  • Reduce to your desired sauciness level is reached – anywhere between 2 and 1- minutes.
  • Serve with rice/naan. Garlic and coriander naan goes very nicely with this dish.

 

Having eaten far too much dairy over the past few days, I eventually wanted something without cheese for dinner. Also, the drop in temperature meant I started to crave more hearty/stodgy food. What better than a pie?

Quorn and vegetable pie

Ingredients

500g shortcrust pastry. You can buy it pre-made, like Jus-Rol (which by the way is vegan!), but it’s easy to make yourself. See Lorraine Pascale’s simple recipe for instructions.

4 Quorn sausages/4 servings of Quorn Steak Strips
1/2 pack chestnut mushrooms
160g frozen peas
160g frozen sweetcorn
160g frozen carrots
Handful of spinach if wanted
6tsp onion gravy granules, made up according to instructions (alter the quantity of water appropriately).

Method

  • Whilst the pastry is warming up a bit (if you use it straight from the fridge it’ll crumble), chop up the Quorn sausages into slices.
  • Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to the thickness of a pound coin, and lay it over a circular casserole dish. Push down into the bottom, then chop off the rough bits at the top to make an even line. Save the spare bits of pastry and roll them up into a ball – you’ll need them for the lid
  • Bake in the oven at 175 degrees (fan oven) for ten minutes.
  • Whilst this is cooking, cook the vegetables according to pack instructions. Fry the chopped up sausages and mushrooms together in a pan to brown. Also, make up the gravy according to pack instructions. When this is done, mix the gravy, sausages, mushrooms, and veg together in a saucepan.
  • Pour into the part baked pastry case, nearly to the top.
  • Roll out the pastry ball again to the thickness of a pound coin, and lay over the top of the pie. Cut off the excess bits of pastry, and try to stick the lid to the base, by pressing it with a teaspoon around the edge. Poke a knife into the top, to create holes for steam to escape.
  • Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown, keeping an eye on it.
  • When the pie is ready, try to lift it out of the casserole dish and slide it onto a plate. If it doesn’t look like it’s going to work, just serve it straight from the dish, and enjoy.

 

Now, I expect you’ll be wanting dessert. Ever since my friend Heather taught me how to make the perfect creme egg brownies, they’ve become a favourite among my friends. However, since you can only buy creme eggs at Easter time, I make sure to stock up! Screme eggs work too, but they don’t look as attractive.

Ingredients

185g Cadbury Dairy Milk
185g unsalted butter (I buy dairy free spread and it works equally well)
40g plain flour
45g self raising flour
40g cocoa powder
3 eggs
275g caster sugar
6 Cadbury creme eggs, put in fridge for 2 hours (or freezer for 15 minutes) beforehand.

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 175c (fan oven). Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave, stirring in between 10 second bursts until smooth. Set aside.
  • In a different bowl, crack the eggs, add the sugar, and whisk until doubled in size. It’ll be pale yellow and mousse like.
  • Add the chocolate and butter mix and stir. Then sift the flours and cocoa together into the bowl and mix again, but don’t overmix.
  • Pour into a greased and lined rectangular cake tin – approximately 19x26cm – and put in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
  • Whilst this is cooking, cut the creme eggs in half lengthways, and put them back in the fridge to set a bit more.
  • Take out the brownies when the 15-20 minutes is up. Place the halved creme eggs on top of the mixture, evenly spaced, and push in slightly.
  • Put back into the oven for another ten minutes, then let the brownies cool for about 45 minutes in the tin before cutting into squares.

 

Since cooking is my favourite method of procrastination, I understand why some students find it time consuming. But it is worthwhile. Especially if it means you get to avoid writing a 3,000 word essay on the history of history.

 

 


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