Pad Thai with Paneer

*Firstly, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my dear sweet husband who puts up with all my shenanigans! You are the inspiration, motivation and guinea pig for this endeavor, so readers should be grateful to him too. :)*

The past 45 minutes were consumed with straining soaked imli (tamarind root) to make my favorite chutney later. While arching my back to alleviate strain and doing leg lifts to glean some form of physical benefit from spending ALL my time in the kitchen this weekend, I remembered a dish I made a few weeks ago, a most delicious if slightly unauthentic pad thai. Don’t misunderstand, I adore abiding by authentic rules and principles when possible, but I’m not going to go buy fish sauce just to make one dish. My sincerest apologies, but my prevailing sentiment is to adjust when necessary.

In fact, I tinkered quite a bit with this dish (was the paneer not a dead giveaway on that point?), not even going to the lengths that I am for the aforementioned chutney; but that of course is for a sublime dish I’m making for Eid-ul-Fitr, the Islamic holiday that follows Ramadan. More on that dish another time though (forgive me for unabashedly grasping for your anticipation). So no, I used a ready-made tamarind paste for this pad thai which can be bought in most grocery stores I presume (I snagged some from my sister-in-law, score!). And of course, I used Paneer (Indian blocks of cheese) rather than tofu. They have a similar firmness but the husband warrants that paneer soaks in more flavor. Since this would hardly be a dish found on the streets of Bangkok, what harm could arise from a bit more tinkering—and thus was born a quick vegetarian pad thai meant to please with ease… and cheese (Oh Alya, did you actually just say that?!? ). Continue reading

Festive Chicken and Paneer

I recently stumbled entirely by chance on a writing competition—a short story challenge—held by a creative writing organization called NYC Midnight.  A tiny spark of excitement flashed in my tired little brain but I let it runs its course because who am I kidding, right? I couldn’t possibly compete against practicing, aspiring, more well prepared and well-versed writers from across the globe (the competition is open to the world, to the universe even, I bet!).  I wrote it off, pun intended, as a nice dream seriously what’s the point of trying? Continue reading

Lemon Garlic Rice with Paneer

I mentioned in the previous post that I partnered my spinach with some zesty rice, and oh-my-dear-goodness-gracious-have-mercy-on-us-all-and-then-some, was it zesty!  This was a bold attempt for me because rice has never been my strong suit, and only recently have I gained enough confidence in its creation to even consider messing around with it, especially without enlisting the guidance of a tried-and-true recipe of some sort.

But that was the point after all, to try something new and just my own, to see how I would fare.  That is how we learn, and trust me I learned a few things here.  First mistake: use basmati, not jasmine rice.  I admit I wasn’t actually paying attention to which canister I pulled out when I prepared my rice, and that made it way too sticky for my liking.  Chalk it up to a learning experience.  And a fun one too, because anytime we can engage our mind in a creative venture, no matter how simple or complex, that’s a winning point for us.

So here lies my first attempt at Lemon Garlic Rice with Paneer.  Haha… what was I thinking?? Continue reading