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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Mushroom Paneer Masala ( And a box full of Nostalgia )

One of the most wretched things in life is perhaps being away from loved ones during the festive season. I was feeling completely heartbroken as this year work commitments kept us from visiting our hometown during the Dusshera celebrations.  The new clothes were there, the sweets were there and quite a number of bedecked pandals were strewn all over Bangalore. But the close ones with whom we would have loved to share all this were missing. I guess that is the thing about joy. It multiplies manifold when shared.

Hence, when a beautiful green colored box arrived one afternoon, it stirred memories of celebrations back home. As I opened the box, the delectable 'Tata Sampann' spice packets tumbled out unleashing a floodgate of nostalgia. 'Paneer Masala', 'Dal Takdka masala' and 'Punjabi Choley Masala' reminded me of the delicious vegetarian meals cooked by my 'mausi' and 'mamis'. With schools being closed for Dusshera vacation, all of us would gather at 'mama's' place for fun and food. With so many people in the house, the kitchen hardly got any respite. The younger lot of ladies would be in charge of whipping of the meals while my 'nani' took to keeping an eye over the kids. The terrace would be lined with the freshly dug turmeric and red chillis, which in turn attracted our curiosity. While in those days I clearly remember sulking over not being allowed to play with those spices, today I realize that their tantalizing culinary creations carried the magical touch of these home ground spices.
Each individual use sachet of TATA Sampann seals in the same freshness of the best quality spices that still retain their natural oils which are responsible for that unmistakable aroma of the home ground spices. These spices are further sourced from the best farms and are 100 percent sterilized to ensure complete safety for one's family. Plus the signature 'masalas' are developed under the expertise of Chef Sanjeev Kapoor who is a name to reckon with.

















Given our hectic lifestyle and the obvious absence of a terrace to carry out such ventures, I could never imagine creating those magical concoctions in my own kitchen. But as I cut open the carefully sealed spice packets from 'Tata Sampann', the heady aroma and the striking hues made my head spin. 'Sampann' literally translates into rich and that it exactly what these spices felt like.

















I prepared a simple meal consisting of a mushroom-paneer curry, dal tadka , steamed rice and salad for our 'Dashami' lunch. Tantalizing aromas enveloped the entire house even as I added finishing touches to the spread. Some of it even escaped to tease the neighbors, and in turn, prompting queries like 'what's special today ?'. And needless to say, my family had one of their best meals in the recent times.

Read on for the recipe for Mushroom Paneer Masala, a dish that never fails to invoke my childhood memories -

















Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients -
  • 200 gm paneer
  • 200 gm button mushrooms
  • 1/2 sachet of Tata Sampann Paneer Masala
  • 2 tsp cream (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp Tata Sampann turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp Tata Sampann red chili powder ( adjust as per taste )
  • 2 pinch garam masala
  • 3 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp butter (optional)

For the gravy -
  • 1 large onion ( cut into chunks )
  • 10 garlic cloves (peeled)
  • 1 inch ginger ( peeled and chopped into juliennes )
  • 2 small tomatoes
  • 2 pinch salt 
  • 1 green cardamom
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 3-4 cashews 
  • 1 tsp melon seeds (char-magaj)
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds

Preparation - Soak cashews, poppy seeds and melon seeds in warm water for 30 mins.

Clean the mushrooms by rubbing them on a rough kitchen towel before then washing under running water. Slice them along the length.

Cut the paneer into cubes and immerse in salted water.

Cooking - Heat 1 tsp oil in a wok. Add the cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. Fry till fragrant.

Add onion, ginger and garlic cloves . Fry till raw smell goes off.

Add the chopped tomato and fry till they soften a bit. Finally toss in the soaked cashews and fry for 2 mins.

Remove from flame and keep aside till it cools down. Grind into a smooth paste and keep aside.

Heat the remaining oil and butter in the same wok. Add the masala paste and fry for 2-3 mins before adding the sliced mushrooms.

Turn up the heat and fry the mushrooms till they leave most of their water.

Sprinkle the red chili powder, turmeric powder and the Tata Sampann Paneer masala. Fry for 3-4 mins before adding about 1 1/2 cups of hot water. Adjust salt.

Bring to a boil before letting it simmer. Once the gravy is done, sprinkle garam masala and toss in the paneer cubes . Switch off the flame.

Garnish with chopped cilantro before serving.
















Thank you Tata Sampann for sending over this box full of nostalgia !


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