Spiced Masala Paneer with Bejeweled Couscous, Coriander and Mint Chutney

Spiced Masala Paneer with Bejeweled Couscous, Coriander and Mint Chutney

Barbecue and picnics are synonymous with summer. Long lazy days relaxing with friends and family in the garden, sipping a cold beer - I recommend any by the talented 'Wiper and True', a glass of Pimmís or perhaps an Aperol Spritz. You want no fuss fare and yet the days of simple bangers and burgers is, well, a bit old school. Today, people are barbecuing and marinating all manner of tasty delights, from whole fish to shell fish to butterflied chicken to chops - and even Indian paneer.

Tasty vegetarian options, for both the vegetarian and meat eaters alike, is often in great demand. You don't have to succumb to a chickpea burger, which I am working on I might add, after I tried a very disappointing effort at a recent inn down in Devon. I digress. My spiced masala paneer will hopefully please all manner of guests from the young to the more seasoned.

Paneer, for the uninitiated, is a firm Indian cottage cheese that is easily available in large supermarkets; or for the brave or time rich, you can try making it yourself at home. It is similar to feta in appearance but is not as salty. It is used in a wide range of Indian curries, the most well-known probably being 'saag paneer' Ė a spinach paneer curry.

As well as paneer I have included fresh, medium-sized tomatoes on the skewers. They work well as they require a similar timing to cook as the paneer. To accompany the spiced masala skewers, I have made a coriander and mint chutney, which adds a wonderful zing to the whole dish and it takes no time to make at all; always a bonus. In addition, I like to serve up some bejewelled couscous, which adds colour, flavour and a degree of exotic vibrancy.

I am convinced that even the most hard-core meat eater out there, will love this combination of dishes. The spices of the marinade - Kashmiri chilli powder, chat masala, turmeric powder, coriander powder and cumin seeds - will transport you to exotic worlds, whilst your feet are still firmly planted in your back garden.

Spiced Masala Paneer

Serves 4 (8 skewers)

8 skewers (wooden or metal)

450g paneer cut into 1 inch cubes

7 medium sized tomatoes, quartered

3 tbsp natural yoghurt

1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

1/2 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp chat masala

1/2 turmeric powder

1 tsp garlic paste*

1 tsp ginger paste*

1/2 tsp green chilli paste*

A pinch of salt


Bejewelled Couscous

Serves 4

200g couscous

350ml boiling water

2 tbsp flaked almonds, bronzed

1/2 pomegranate, seeds only

Handful of fresh coriander, leaves only

Pepper and salt, to taste


Coriander and Mint Chutney

Serves 4

25g fresh coriander (leaves and stalks)

25g fresh mint leaves

1 tsp garlic paste*

1 or 2 fresh green chillies, roughly chopped

1 tsp ginger paste*

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp soft brown sugar

25ml water

1/2 lemon, juice only


Spiced Masala Paneer Skewers

1. If using wooden skewers, soak them in cold water for 30 minutes to prevent them from burning in the grill. Then remove from the water and dry with a kitchen roll. Metal skewers will not require soaking.

2. To make the spiced masala, mix the natural yoghurt with all the spices as well as the garlic, ginger and green chilli paste in a bowl and place to one side.

3. Cube the paneer and quarter the tomatoes and place in the bowl with the spiced masala. Gently fold the paneer and tomato quarters into the mixture, making sure that they are all coated. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for between 30 minutes to overnight.

4. Preheat the grill (or BBQ) to fan 180C.

5. Place the marinated paneer cubes and tomatoes alternately on the skewers - I tend to do around 4 paneer cubes and 3 tomato quarters per skewer.

6. Cover a baking tray with foil and then place the rack on top. Evenly space out the skewers so that they are not touching one another. Place in the grill for a maximum of 20 minutes, making sure to turn them over after 10 minutes.

Coriander and Mint Chutney

1. Blend all the ingredients together in an electric blender and taste. Season further as required. Place in a bowl in the fridge until ready to use.

Bejewelled Couscous

1. Place the couscous in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Place a plate on top of the bowl and leave to rest for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat a frying pan and when hot add the flaked almonds so as to dry roast and bronze them slightly. Keep your eye on this as they will burn quickly if left unattended. It will take no more than a couple of minutes. Place to one side.

3. Remove the pomegranate seeds from the pomegranate, making sure that the pith does not remain around the seeds. Place to one side.

4. Remove the coriander leaves and place in the bowl with the pomegranate seeds.

5. Using a fork, fluff up the couscous so that it does not stick together. Add the dry roasted flaked almonds, pomegranate seeds and coriander leaves. Season well with salt and pepper and make sure all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed in well together.

*fresh garlic, ginger and green chilli can be used instead of the pastes, simply chop or finely grate to form a paste like consistency.

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Imperial Blue Rectangular Plate

Imperial Blue Small Shallow Bowl

Author Bio: Torie True is a London based Food Blogger and Writer who is passionate about cooking global recipes using herbs and spices and encouraging others to do the same. Her recipes and food articles have been in The Telegraph, Country & Town House, Delicious Magazine, as well as the ebook by Kathy Aquino 'Anti-Inflammatory Herbs and Spices: 30 Delicious Recipes to Reduce Inflammation and Pain

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