When I read about Shaheen's Summertime Express Cooking Event (Meals under 30 mins) my first thought was "Oh but that's what I do practically everyday when I cook an entire lunch for my husband's tiffin . Yes he does carry a complete Indian Lunch sans rice almost everyday to office.(Barring those days when he is out of office all day and has to MAKE DO with a delicious baguette sandwich from Upper Crust.
I admit it needs a bit of pre-planning to cook a meal in 30 mins or less but thats no hassle once you are in the habit of doing it. Besides the daily tiffin lunch the other times when I want a good meal on the table in a very short time is on weekends. Yes being a full-time home-maker I spend quite a lot of my time during the week in my kitchen, (in fact most of my elaborate meals are made during the week because I do have the time for them ).So its only fair that I want to spend more time relaxing with my family on weekends , but at the same time have a delicious meal on the table ,which is everybody's favourite when hunger beckons.
One way I save on cooking time during the weekends is my using frozen phulkas. No not the store-bought variety. I make my own during the week and store them in batches of 10. That's how many the three of us consume at one meal. This cuts down amazingly on cooking time .
So whenever you have the time make extra phulkas or chappatis whatever your preference and freeze them in batches of 10 or 12 in stack in freezer bags. Put the date on which you are freezing them and a use by date on them . I normally use them up within a week to 10 days. When you want to use them just wrap them in kitchen paper and pop them into the microwave for 10 to 12 secs and you have a soft phulka ready to eat.
The meal I have here today is a firm family favourite and although the total items in the meal are just 3 ,the meal as a whole is so satisfying that you don't need anything else. The Matar Paneer here tastes so good that it will give any Punjabi Dhaaba a run for its money.
So here's how :
Ingredients for Matar Paneer:
200 gms Paneer cubed (Store bought or Homemade ),
2.5 cups frozen peas,
2 large onions, (just cut into chunks)
4 cloves of garlic,
1 inch piece of ginger, (to save on time peeling garlic cloves and grating ginger just use 2 tspns of ginger garlic paste),
1 can chopped tomatoes,
10 cashew nuts,
1/2 a cup of milk,
1 generous handful of fresh coriander, (washed but no need to chop)
1 tspns each of Coriander and Cumin powders,
1 tspn Kitchen King Masala (if this is not available substitute with 1 tspn Kasoori Methi),
1 and 1/2 tspn chilly powder,
1/2 tspn turmeric powder,
4 black pepper corns,
1 small stick cinnamon,
3 tblspns of ghee (you can use oil instead but believe me it tastes awesome when cooked in ghee) I know all dieters are shaking there heads with disapproval.
salt to taste.
Now what do you do with all these:
1. Before you actually start the cooking immerse the paneer in some warm water and leave it that way until its time to put it in the gravy,
2.. In a kadhai heat the ghee and put in the cinnamon, cloves ,peppercorns and bayleaf. Fry until they release a spicy aroma,
3 Next add the ginger -garlic paste and fry it for few seconds,
4. After that come the onion chunks. Keep the heat moderately high so they turn a nice golden brown,
5. When the onions are golden tip in the chopped tomatoes and at this stage also add the cumin coriander powders,chilly powder, kitchen king masala, turmeric powder and the handful of coriander. Putting coriander inside a curry gives the entire dish a sensational aroma. Now let all this cook for 10 mins .( Add a little water if necessary)
6 After ten minutes switch off the gas remove the bayleaf from the mixture and tip in the entire contents of the kadhai into a deep container in which you can use a hand blender to blend everything to a paste. (By using a hand-blender you do not have to wait for the mixture to cool down at all)
7. Before blending add the cashew nuts and the milk and then blend it all together.
8. Pour the gravy back into the kadhai, add the paneer cubes,frozen peas , a cup of water, and salt to taste. Give it another boil for 5 mins and your matar paneer is ready to serve.
Now that almost 20 mins have been taken by the matar paneer you can use the remaining 10 mins to cut the cucumber (I cut them into spirals ) and microwaving the frozen phulkas. Plate it all up and what you have is a delicious hot meal ready in 1/2 an hour flat.
Note:To make the cucumber more interesting mix it with some plain yogurt and chaat masala or another idea is to rub some mango pickle on the cut cucumber to make it nice and spicy. Take your pick.
Now let me just pop over to Shaheen's Malabar Spice with my ideas for her Summer Express Cooking Event