The Indian festive season has begun, and kitchens all over the country have been buzzing with activity. Mine is no different. I’ve spent the past few days planning and re-planning our menus. I remember a time, not too long ago when Hubby Dear and I would throw lavish Diwali parties. We’d have an extensive menu – which often included this delicious low-fat version of Paneer Methi Malai, which would have me begin the cooking process a day or two in advance. Those were the days!
For the last few years however, we’ve both seem to have wanted to slow down a bit during the holidays. It’s not that we do not make a big deal about celebrating, we just prefer to have it low-key with family and some of our closest friends. But does this mean we skimp on the food? Of course not! I could never live with myself if I did. The cooking still continues in full swing. We generally tend to have a very light breakfast, and I cook up a storm for our Diwali lunch – which usually includes this Paneer Methi Malai devoid of all the extra unneeded cream. Dinner will typically vary between different kinds of snacky or finger food while we all sit down to a competitive game of cards.
Last year I went a bit nuts in trying to create a buffet of various Indian street food. Although I turned into a headless chicken trying to get a dozen things on the table at the same time, each piping hot and ready to serve, it sure was fun experience. On the menu, we had Samosas, Corn Chaat, Dal Kachoris with Chana Masala, Ragda Tikkis and Dahi Puris to simply name a few. (Yes, there was much more than this on our table. Much, much more.)
This year, I decided to change things up a bit. Instead of having everyone huddled around the buffet table, I want us all to sit down to a nice, homely, festive family meal. So on our Diwali menu this year will be: Paneer Methi Malai with no malai as usual (recipe follows), Dal Makhani, Bharwaan Bhindi, Baingan Patiala, Jeera Pulao, Garlic Naan, Beetroot Raita and Salad. Simple, wholesome, and absolutely delicious! So… what’s on your Diwali menu this year?
Here’s wishing all my wonderful readers a very happy and tasty festive season!
Low-fat Paneer Methi Malai (Creamy Paneer with Fenugreek and Peas)
- 2 tbsp light cooking oil
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 1 tbsp finely minced ginger
- 1 tbsp finely minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 400 gms paneer cut into bite-sized cubes
- 1 tbsp powdered almonds
- 1 cup plain yogurt beaten till smooth
- 1/2 cup frozen peas thawed
- 1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
- water as needed
- salt to taste
- Heat oil in a deep non-stick pan and sauté onions till lightly browned and tender. Add in ginger, garlic and spices, and fry for a few seconds till fragrant.
- Add in paneer cubes and stir-fry for a few minutes till the paneer starts to lightly brown along the edges. Sprinkle in powdered almonds and sauté for another minute.
- Stir in yogurt, peas and fenugreek leaves and cook covered for 3-4 minutes on low heat. Add in about half a cup of water, season with salt and let it simmer for another 4-5 minutes. You can add in more water depending on the consistency you prefer and let it come to a boil. Serve warm.
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