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Last few days of Lent are here! I am excited to eat meat again. I know I’m going to chow down on a juicy burger for my first meal come Friday. There is a part of me that will miss the random plans, and waking up HANGOVER FREE on Saturdays; But I have missed my glasses of wine!

Oh did I mention I fell off the wagon last Friday, again! This time with a few double vodkas and a shot of tequila. I know, less than a week to go and my faith faltered. I am a little disappointed with myself, But I have made my bed, and I’m going to sleep in it till my head stops spinning! In my defense (which is no defense at all), I got some great news at work! Great, like ‘moving on up’ great!! So I convinced myself that I had to have a drink… but we shouldn’t dwell on that!

I’ve got a recipe here for Paneer (cottage cheese) which I made for dinner last night! In the past 30 something days, I have eaten plenty of paneer. From Palak Paneer at Diamond Plaza, to Chilli Paneer at Azalea in Hurlingham; it was my substitute for meat! I found this recipe by Sanjeev Kapoor, but I adjusted it to suit what I had at home and could find in the supermarket.

400g paneer (cottage cheese)

vegetable oil

plenty of butter (salted)

1 onion, chopped

4 green cardamoms

6 cloves

2 inch ginger, crushed

6 cloves garlic, crushed

2 green chillies, finely chopped

1 can (400g) chopped tomatoes

3 tbsp tomato paste

1 1/2 tsp chilli powder

coriander (dania)

1 tsp garam masala

2 tbsp honey

1/4 cup skimmed milk

Cut the paneer in to cubes, toss in a little bit of chilli powder and salt. Heat oil in a wok or large pan, add the paneer and brown. stir regularly to avoid the paneer sticking to the bottom. You can use the grill instead, just lightly oil a baking sheet and place the paneer over a medium heat turning to brown all sides. remove and set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the wok, add the onions, cardamom, cloves, ginger, garlic and chillies and saute until onions are soft. Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste. Let this simmer for 10 minutes.

Next add chilli powder, garam masala and honey to the tomato-masala. Toss in the paneer cubes, stir well. I added my butter here, just stir it in and watch it melt away.

Stir in the milk before serving. If you’re looking for a heavier, creamier dish, substitute milk for cooking cream.

I served this with paranthas. These are the Indian version of our chapatis. They are much thicker and fluffier. I bought these frozen at the supermarket, in the frozen food section, they come about 5 pieces; you just pop them on a pan with a little oil and voila!

I would recommend you keep some in your fridge for those days when you need something quick and easy to accompany your meals.

If you are meat-loving, you can add some grilled lamb, or chicken to the tomato-masala sauce. It is a great base for any meat. Just season the meat, grill or pan-fry it till cooked and add it to the sauce as you would the paneer. Or even reduce the sauce for about 25minutes over a moderate heat to make a thick gravy over a steak and mash potatoes… The options are endless!

**Sorry for the poor photo quality. I took it at halfway through lunch, and sharing with my co-workers (trying to get my brownie points up… and it is working)!

Happy April to you all!

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