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Easy recipes of chole and paneer for a fulfilling meal

It’s Raksha Bandhan week, and if you are searching for food ideas, here’s an excerpt from the cookbook ‘30 Meal Plans from Archana's Kitchen’

15-Minute Paneer Masala and Jaisalmer ke Chole served with warm puris, cucumber, lacha pyaz and chaas. (Photo: 30 Meal Plans from Archana's Kitchen)

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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 exhaustive list of recipes sourced from across India with eclectic pairings. For instance, Karnataka-style Huli Soppu Saaru (tangy curry with fresh greens) is served with methi carrot thepla, or the Gujarati valor muthia nu shaak (broad beans eggplant stir fry with fenugreek leaf dumplings) is accompanied by Bengali cholar dal.

It’s a cookbook of ideas launched just in time as Raksha Bandhan kicks of the festive season. Here are two recipes of chole and paneer, excerpted from the book, that warrant a heartwarming lunch.

Jaisalmer ke Chole
Cooked in ghee and whole spices, this delectable dish will make your mouth water just looking at it. The chef who shared this recipe with me told me that for the most delicious-tasting chole, it’s important to add 250 grams of ghee for every 1 kilogram of chole. No doubt, ghee added that beautiful texture and taste that we as a family relished—we almost finished the chole from the breakfast buffet counter by ourselves. To replicate the dish at home, I have modified the recipe to make it healthier by adding much less ghee and still retaining its lip-smacking flavour.

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

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

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

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

Once the tomatoes turn mushy, add the cooked kabuli chana. Stir well, check the salt and add more if required. Cover the pan and simmer the chole for about 40 minutes so that the flavours seep deeply into the chana. Add a little water to adjust the consistency of the chole gravy.

Once done, 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 gravy will be a reason for you to start cooking your meals, as it can’t get as simple as this recipe. The paneer is simmered in a honey tomato gravy which is light and nutritious.

Tip: while pureeing the tomatoes, add a couple of carrots to puree alongside to boost the nutritional quotient of the gravy. You can serve this dish with tawa paratha for a quick weeknight dinner.

1 tsp ghee
1 onion, finely chopped
1-inch ginger, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 tbsp fresh cream
Half tsp garam masala powder
Half tsp coriander powder
One-fourth tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
1 tbsp honey
250 gm paneer, cut into cubes
1 tbsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
Salt to taste

Add the cut tomatoes to a blender and make a smooth puree and keep aside. Heat the ghee in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and sauté them until the onions soften and turn lightly golden. Once golden, add the tomato puree, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder, salt, paneer, honey and cream. Give all the ingredients a quick stir. Turn the heat to high and allow the paneer masala gravy to come to a brisk boil. Then, cover the pan, turn the heat to low and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes. Once done, give it a stir, check the salt and spices and adjust them according to your taste. Turn off the heat and transfer the paneer masala into a serving bowl, stir in the kasuri methi and serve hot.

The cover of 30 Meal Plans from Archana's Kitchen
The cover of 30 Meal Plans from Archana's Kitchen

Excerpted with permission from30 Meal Plans from Archana’s Kitchen,HarperCollins India, Rs. 399

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