Polenta Croquettes with Mushroom and Paneer Sauce

The Italians hold dear their porridge or polenta made from cornmeal. I love its versatality – served plain or enriched by being baked or fried with other ingredients. In this recipe, the polenta is mixed with red peppers, celery and spring onions, cooled and cut into fingers. The colours look so pretty. They are then crumbed and fried.

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While cooking the cornmeal, add the grains slowly, otherwise the grains will form lumps. Stir continuously and add a ladleful of boiling water each time it becomes too thick. Cook for 30 minutes or longer if you want a softer textured porridge.

As for the sauce, you can opt for just tomatoes blended with some spices and herbs of your choice. I added the mushrooms and cottage cheese for more taste and variation. You can also opt for canned and peeled tomatoes to save time.

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It takes a little time and patience, but the result is just yummy.

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PREP: 2 hours 45 minutes including cooling time  COOK TIME:  45 minutes  SERVES:  4

Ingredients

  • 1 litre vegetable stock or water
  • 200 g polenta
  • 4 spring onions, finely chopped with the stalks
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • ½ small red pepper, finely chopped
  • Plain flour
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten with ½ cup milk
  • 200 g breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Mushroom and Paneer Sauce

  • 500 g fresh tomatoes
  • 200 g mushrooms, sliced
  • 200 g fresh paneer, cubed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced finely
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

Place the vegetable stock in a large saucepan and bring it to a rolling boil. If you are using water, then it has to be salted. Strew in the cornmeal slowly from a height to distribute it evenly. The water should remain on boil as you add the grains, otherwise it will form lumps. Once the cornmeal has been added, lower the heat and begin stirring it with a wooden spoon.

Stir the polenta continuously. Keep a pan of boiling water ready. Each time the polenta becomes too thick to stir, add a ladleful of boiling water. Cook for at least 30 minutes, until it acquires an elastic texture and comes away from the sides of the pan. Add the spring onions, red pepper and celery and mix well. Spread into a lightly oiled (12X8 in) shallow pan. Set aside to stand for 2 hours.

Mix the cumin and coriander powder with the breadcrumbs.

Cut the polenta into fingers, toss in flour, dip in egg mixture and then in breadcrumb mixture. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or until required.

To make the sauce, heat 1 tbsp of oil in a frying pan and add the pepper. Add the mushrooms with a little salt. Cook until the mushrooms are tender and the mixture is dry.

Cut the tops of the tomatoes crosswise and plunge in boiling water for a few minutes until the skins start to come off. Drain and cool. Peel the tomatoes and chop them. Add 2 tbsp of oil in a pan, add the onions and garlic and cook until they are soft. Add the curry powder and enough salt.

Add the paneer and mix well. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until it thickens. Add the mushrooms. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large saucepan and cook the polenta fingers a few at a time until golden. Drain on absorbent kitchen paper and serve with the sauce. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rainbow Frittata with Coconut Cream

Fresh, light and delicious – this frittata ticks all the boxes. Easy to prepare with ingredients that anyone more or less has in their pantry. The plus is the high content of fibre and protein.

This is especially important for people of all ages, who have greater nutritional needs. The combination of lentils with veggies, eggs, cheese and coconut make it a remarkably healthy dish. You might want to skip the take-out and prepare this tasty dish instead.

I got this recipe from a book called ‘Cooking Vegetarian with Flair’. However, I have made a few changes to it. The addition of the spices make it more tasty.

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I used the packaged sweetcorn kernels and also extracted the coconut cream from freshly grated coconut. The mung dal helps to set the frittata and the eggs give it an airy softness.

The benefits of coconut are widely known and the flavoured coconut cream is the perfect combination.

Rainbow Frittata with Coconut Cream

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup dried yellow mung dal, soaked in water overnight
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and grated
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 2 Zucchini, grated
  • 125 gms sweetcorn kernels
  • 3 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • 100 gms Cheddar cheese, grated
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Coconut Cream

  • 125 ml coconut cream
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped

Instructions

Drain the mung dal and place in food processor or blender with eggs and process until smooth. Place the mixture in a large mixing bowl.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a fry-pan and cook the onion gently for 3-4 minutes. Add potatoes, carrots and zucchini and cook, stirring for 5 minutes until the vegetables soften and they are fairly dry. Add the vegetables to the mung dal mixture along with the sweetcorn and fresh coriander. Mix and season to taste with salt, pepper, turmeric, cumin and chilli powder.

Heat the remaining oil in a large fry-pan, add the vegetable mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Cook over a low heat for 5-8 minutes or until just firm, shaking the pan occasionally to ensure that the frittata does not stick. Place the pan under a preheated grill for 3 minutes or until the frittata is browned on top.

To make cream, place the coconut cream, lemon juice and mint leaves in a screw-top jar and shake well to combine. Invert the frittata onto a plate, cut into wedges and serve with coconut cream.

Paneer Tikka Pizza

The recipe that I have given below is one that I have been making for years. It’s one of the best pizza recipes that I have come across. It was given to me by my friend.

It requires some effort and planning. I usually make the tomato sauce and the topping a day earlier as this saves me a lot of time. The tomato sauce is really delicious. Thick and really luscious. You can use it as a pasta sauce, for making wraps, in sandwiches and lasagne. I use this for almost all the Italian dishes. It also keeps well in the fridge for about a week.

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I have used Paneer Tikka as a topping. But you can use any topping of your choice. You can also add capsicum to the paneer and onion.

I like to make the base a little thick. It somehow tastes better – well, according to me anyway! But then again, this is a matter of choice. I used instant yeast but the active dry yeast also works well.

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You can also double the recipe. It works very well, especially if you’re having a party.

I usually use a mixture of Cheddar and Mozzarella because I like the strong taste that Cheddar cheese imparts to the overall flavour.

My children tell me that this is the best pizza they’ve tasted! Surprises me, but it’s nice to hear it.

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Paneer Tikka Pizza

Ingredients

  • 150 gms plain flour
  • 200 gms plain flour
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 5 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp salt

For the tomato sauce

  • 2 kg firm tomatoes
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • Salt to taste

For the Paneer Tikka

  • 200 gm paneer
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tbsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 3 tbsp curds
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste

For the topping

  • 100 gms Mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 100 gms Cheddar cheese, grated

Instructions

Cut the onion into large pieces. Marinate the paneer with the onions and all the ingredients for the Tikka and set aside for an hour or overnight.

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Take the 150 grams flour in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the yeast mixture, salt and oil. Mix well. The mixture will be sticky. Add the remaining 200 grams flour and mix well.

Knead the dough for 20 minutes until it is extremely soft. Leave it covered with a damp cloth for 2-3 hours, until it doubles in bulk.

Make an incision at the top of the tomatoes in the shape of a plus (+). Immerse the tomatoes in boiling water for 2-3 minutes until the skins peel off easily. Peel, drain and puree the tomatoes in a blender. Heat the oil, add the garlic and chilli powder. Add the tomato puree immediately and bring it to a slow boil on moderate heat. Simmer until it is really thick. It should not be runny. Add the salt, brown sugar and ketchup. Set aside to cool.

At this point, you can pre-heat the oven to 220 C.

Knock down the dough and divide into 2 portions, depending on how large you want the pizza to be. Roll out the dough, using a little flour, into a circle about ¼ inch thick. Leave it in the pan for 15 minutes to rise.

Spoon a little tomato sauce on the pizza base and spread it thickly. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the base is cooked. Add a little Paneer as topping, spreading it around the top. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the cheese has melted. Serve hot.