Paneer Sliders with Aloo (Potato) and Fruit Chaat

paneer sliders1

Paneer Sliders with Aloo (Potato) and Fruit Chaat: A Perfect Summer Picnic or Backyard Family Dinner

By Renu Jain Chandarana, food writer

My family and I recently did a hike up alongside a waterfall in the Rocky Mountains. It’s mostly paved but has some stairs and dirt paths throughout. Prior to beginning our trek we fuelled up with some homemade lettuce, tomato, cucumber and cheddar cheese sandwiches (boring). Two and half hours later, after frequent breaks and bribing our three and six-year-old girls with the prize of ice cream at the bottom, we had completed about 2.5 km up the side of a waterfall and back – 5k hike done.

We came through with our promise and devoured ice cream sandwiches but what we needed was a meal. While pausing in the parking lot to re-hydrate and figure out our next move we watched in awe of the family next to us enjoying a memorable meal. A whole extended family, Indian, with their stainless steel bowls and plates and real cutlery working in an assembly line to make chutney and veggie sandwiches, dish out masala rice and pass the bag of rippled potato chips around. Communal food, sharing, serving, passing, devouring, enjoying – it was pure satisfaction. The boring sandwiches we ate at the base of the hike were a soggy joke compared to this parking lot Indian feast!

Did you ever go on a picnic in the park with your family, or a road trip perhaps, and your parents packed a “tiffin” (stainless steel stackable lunch boxes) full of goodies? Coming from a vegetarian home, we chose not to just drop into a McDonald’s to have a meal – except maybe for the occasional ice cream sundae! It was just easier and more enjoyable (and more cost effective) to bring your own food. My mom usually packed paranthas and some kind of dry vegetable curry like beans or potatoes. These were always enjoyable cold or room temperature, especially with a foam cup full of hot chai straight out of a giant thermos. Salty snacks were a must. The crunch, the saltiness – just like potato chips or pretzels in the western world, Indian salty snacks are addictive and a necessary accompaniment for road tripping!

Our hike (and the satiated parking lot family) inspired me to re-create some of my favorite foods from my childhood summer picnic and road trip days. They are healthy and more delicious than anything you would find at a fast food chain or grocery store.

These paneer sliders/burgers pack well since the paneer is sturdy and won’t get soggy if you pack it to take on the road or to a picnic. It is dairy so you want to keep it cold or eat within a couple of hours if you’re unable to keep it cold. You can make these sandwiches and chaat recipes your own – add or omit ingredients to your taste!

A few notes on the recipe:
I chose not to marinate or season my paneer because I personally LOVE the flavours of the two chutneys, as well as the freshness of the veggies. Sometimes I just want to keep it light and fresh. You can marinate or season the paneer to your liking!

Lastly, I have included my green chutney and tamarind chutney recipes, as well as a recipe for chevda (salty crunchy snack mix) from my previous masalamommas posts. If you want to make life easier you can A) buy all these things in advance from a grocery store that has a great ethnic food aisle, OR, B) you can make them in advance and freeze the chutneys for future use. As pictured, I have served store bought fried Moong Daal to serve on the side. You could go pure desi and put the salty snack INSIDE your slider/burger for some crunchy deliciousness!

PANEER SLIDERS:

Ingredients:

  • You favourite vegetable sandwich toppings, thinly sliced: cucumber, lettuce, tomato, purple cabbage (pickled beets and fresh white onion would be wonderful too)
  • Brick of Paneer (not cubed or fried) – sliced ¼ to ½ inches thick

  • Green Chutney (see recipe below and make ahead)
  • Tamarind Chutney (see recipe below and make ahead)
  • Slider Buns or Burger Buns (The size is up to you)

Method:

  • Prepare your sandwich toppings and have them ready to go in a tray before you begin
  • Place a small to medium non-stick frying pan* on the stove on medium heat.
  • Gently place the paneer on the frying and let it cook on the bottom for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom.
  • Gently flip each piece over and let brown on the other side.
  • Take off of heat and place on a plate or a piece of parchment paper until ready to assemble the sandwiches.

* If you do not have a non-stick pan, Bake the paneer in the oven/toaster oven at 400F for 5-8 minutes on each side (flipping over once golden brown on the bottom).

Assembling the sandwiches:

  • Slice open the buns and put green chutney on one side, tamarind chutney on the other
  • Begin assembling your veggies of choice on top of the bottom half of the bun: I like to put lettuce and cabbage down first, then paneer, then tomato, then cucumber. Use as many or as little of the ingredients you want – build your own!
  • Place the top half of the bun on top and you’re done!

CILANTRO AND MINT GREEN CHUTNEY (HARI CHUTNEY)

½ bunch Fresh Cilantro with stems

½ bunch Fresh Mint with stems 2 inches

Fresh Ginger ½ of one Lemon or Lime juiced

½ tsp Salt or to taste pinch Black salt (Kala Namak in Hindi)

½ tsp roasted ground cumin

½ tsp ground coriander seed 1 Jalapeño (optional) for extra spic

e 2-3 Tbsp Water

Method:

  • Place all ingredients except for the water into a blender (include the stems for the cilantro and mint, and the peel for the ginger if you like)
  • Add 2 Tbsp of water and blend
  • Check to see the consistency, if it’s too chunky or thick, or not blending well together, add another 1 Tbsp of water at a time until you have reached the consistency you desire

TAMARIND CHUTNEY (IMLI KI CHUTNEY/MEETHI CHUTNEY) 

2 Tbsp            Tamarind Pulp – seedless (can be found already prepared in a jar, or soak a brick of tamarind in boiling water and push contents through a sieve, discarding the fibre)

2 Tbsp           Granulated sugar

3 Tbsp          Hot Water

1tsp                roasted ground cumin

½ tsp             Salt to taste

¼ tsp            Black Salt (a.k.a. Kala Namak in Hindi)

 

Method:

Stir all the ingredients together in a bowl with a spoon until the sugar has dissolved.

FRUIT CHAAT:

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 Banana sliced into 4 long pieces then sliced again into small pieces
  • ½ cup Grapes sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 small Persian cucumber sliced into 4 long pieces then sliced again into small pieces
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes sliced in half lengthwise or 1 whole tomato sliced into 4 pieces then sliced again into small pieces
  • 1 Apple, with the peel, sliced into 4 pieces then sliced again into small pieces
  • Chaat Masala to taste (I use MDH Brand boxed masala found at my local grocery store)
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly squeezed lime juice to taste

Method:

  • Mix all of the ingredients together, careful not to break any of the pieces
  • Add the Chaat Masala, salt and lime juice to your taste and gently stir until all the fruits and cucumber are coated.

POTATO & CHICKPEA CHAAT:

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 baked potatoes
  • 1 baked sweet potato
  • ½ large can chickpeas drained (or 1 small can of chickpeas drained)
  • 2Tbsp of oil (or more if necessary)
  • Chaat Masala to taste (I use MDH Brand boxed masala found at my local grocery store)
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly squeezed lime juice to taste

Method:

  • To bake the 2 kinds of potatoes – preheat the oven to 375F
  • Scrub the potatoes and sweet potato in lukewarm water until their skins are clean.
  • Poke a few holes with a fork or knife in the potatoes and sweet potato
  • Place on a baking tray that is lined with parchment paper
  • Bake in a 375F preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes or until firm but not soft all the way through.
  • Once baked, let cool
  • Peel and slice the cooled potatoes into bite size chunks.
  • Place a wok or large non stick skillet on the stove on medium to high heat.
  • Add 2 Tbsp of oil (or more if potatoes are sticking)
  • Gently stir fry the potatoes and sweet potatoes until they get crispy on all sides, about 10 minutes, constantly stirring and getting heat on all sides of the pieces. The sweet potato will breakdown a bit because it’s soft, but that’s ok, it adds sweetness to the dish.
  • Place the crispy potatoes and the chickpeas into a serving bowl
  • Add the Chaat Masala, salt and lime juice to your taste.
  • Mix all of the ingredients together, careful not to break any of the pieces of potato

HOMEMADE CHEVDA (Salty lentil and cereal mix)

Masala Temper:

4 Tbsp oil

1 Tbsp Black Mustard Seeds

10-12 Curry Leaves

½ tsp Asafetida (hing)

Red Chilli powder to your taste

2 tsps Turmeric

1 tsp Citric Acid powder

1 Tbsp ground fennel seeds (as coarsely or finely ground as you like)

Salt to your taste (I used about 2 tsps)

Sugar to your taste optional (I used about 1 tsp)

Chevda Mix:

2 cups puffed rice (You could use Rice Krispies – white or brown)

2 cups Corn Flakes

½ cup roasted peanuts (Spanish peanuts would be best)

¼ cup raisins

Method:

  • On medium heat the oil in a large wok (enough to stir the 4 cups of cereals freely).
  • Add the black mustard seeds and the curry leaves and heat until the seeds start popping.
  • Use a mesh spatter lid or large enough lid to protect yourself from the popping seeds. Add the hing, red chili powder if using, and turmeric and let cook in heat for one minute stirring gently with a large spoon. Do not burn the temper!
  • Turn the heat down to lo/medium-lo and add the cereals, nuts and raisins and stir constantly over the heat careful not to break the cereals but enough to fold in the temper. Add the remaining spices: citric acid, fennel, salt and sugar.
  • Keep stirring gently until the cereals are coated with the temper and toasted slightly. Turn off the heat and let cool in the wok. Store in an airtight container.

 

Note: You can add any grain or cereals you like (like boondi or fried channa daal), as well as a few crushed potato chips, or other nuts like cashews. Make it your own!


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