The lavish menu at a premium, fine-dining restaurant would possibly enthrall you with a dozen-odd varieties of paneer dishes, each stylishly titled, like Paneer Manpasand or Paneer Rosti, and ornately described, with a mouthful of adjectives. In our kitchens, blocks of paneer are prized possessions, whether freshly made or stored in bowls of water in the refrigerator for a few days. Paneer, bearing high protein content and an edge of versatility (crumble and make a quick bhurji, cube and slip into tomato-based gravies, marinate and grill to jazz up a party platter), fares well in all columns on our chart, starting from nutrition to taste.
Even if it’s not party time, we like to serve varieties of finger food as tea-time accompaniments for guests or after-school snacks for our girls. Featured here are easy to make Paneer Canapes, all crackling brown and semolina-crusted on one side and lightly grill-seared paneer on the bottom. These two-layer beauties are one-bite pickings at best, and pair well with a wide range of sides, right from chilli sauce to salsa. They’ll last a few minutes, or just long enough for you to blink before thinking of the next course of the meal.
2-Layer Paneer Canapes
- 200g Block of paneer
- 1/3 cup fine semolina / suji / rawa
- ¼ cup thick yogurt / curds
- ¼ cup minced onion
- ¼ cup minced tomato
- ¼ cup finely grated carrot
- 1 green chilli, minced
- 2 tablespoons coriander leaves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons mint leaves, chopped
- Salt to taste
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garam masala
- Pinch of red chilli pepper
- Pinch of turmeric powder
- 2 tablespoons oil for frying
- Cut the block of paneer into 9 equal pieces, and slit each piece into 2 thin slices. The pieces you get should be bite-sized..about an inch square, and ¼” thick. Season these with salt and set aside.
- Mix the semolina with the yogurt in a bowl. Stir in the onion, tomato, carrot, chilli, coriander and mint. Season the mixture with salt, pepper, garam masala, red chilli and turmeric.
- Heat a large non-stick frying pan with a drizzle of oil.
- Put about a heaped teaspoon of the semolina mixture on top of a paneer cube and press it down slightly so that it forms a thick layer all over the paneer. Carefully place this in the hot frying pan with the semolina side down. Repeat with the remaining pieces.
- Fry the semolina side of the canapes on low heat until well-browned. Then increase the heat to medium-low and flip the pieces over. Fry the paneer side very briefly or else the paneer may become tough.
- Remove the fried canapes to a paper towel. If you were not able to fit in all the pieces in the frying pan, repeat the process with the remaining paneer.
- Serve the paneer with your favourite condiment. We like green chutney, ketchup, chilli sauce or salsa.
* Paneer is a fresh, non-melting cheese used in Indian cuisine which is made from curdling milk and draining out the whey. The milk solids are pressed down to form a block of the cheese. You can find it in Indian grocery stores or try haloumi or firm tofu as a substitute in this recipe.
We like to serve these canapes with some fresh lettuce leaves to wrap the pieces in. Small leaves work best, and add a lovely freshness and crunch to the dish.