seared paneer with tea and pineapple dressing

Nik Sharma

Hey Friends, I’m a multi-award-winning and best-selling cookbook author and photographer.

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seared paneer with tea and honey vinaigrette| A Brown Table

I’ve fallen in love with Netflix‘s new documentary called The Chef’s Table. It’s one of the most inspiring cooking documentaries, I’ve seen in a long time. I don’t really care for the food competitions shows and rarely watch them but this is one show that has had me glued to the TV. It’s easy to get repetitive when it comes to creating food (I find myself falling into this trap often) but after watching this series and listening to the stories and how these world renowned chefs overcame their personal struggles was uplifting, encouraging and exciting. My only complaint, too few episodes but I do hope it comes back for another season. I’ve been eyeing Marcus Nilsson’s Fäviken cookbook for a while now and to see him in the series was exciting. I’m also hoping I get to visit LA to try out Niki Nakayama and her Kaiseki techniques that make her food so beautiful. If you get a chance, do check the documentary out, you won’t be disappointed! 

Dairy is pretty popular in India, the fact that I grew up eating plain yogurt at any time of the day, is probably a good testament to this fact. Cheese however as we think of it here in the West, is made in a very different manner in India. Rennet and fermentative bacteria are not the tools of choice when it comes to preparing Indian cheeses but rather acid and heat coagulate the proteins in milk. You still get western style cheeses in India and they are popular but panner is by far the most prominent cheese used in Indian cuisine. 

Paneer is a type of cheese, that doesn’t melt when heated and in many ways, it reminds me of tofu. It takes on the flavor of anything it’s mixed with and you’ll find it used in curries and other savory dishes. If you look into my freezer, you will often see a small pack of paneer stored because the possibilities with this cheese are endless when used correctly. You can find paneer at Indian and South East Asian and/or International food markets and I’ve also come across low-fat versions of this cheese too. The good thing about this cheese is that it holds it’s texture very well when heated as it doesn’t melt. However, this also makes it, in my opinion, unsuitable for a grilled cheese sandwich. 

This paneer recipe is very simple to make and is an easy appetizer or side to serve. It’s definitely not a traditional way of serving it in India but as I always say, why not!  Just doll the warm slabs of paneer up with a few fresh daikon radish shoots and the tea and pineapple dressing before serving it. 


seared paneer with tea and honey vinaigrette| A Brown Table


seared paneer with tea and honey vinaigrette| A Brown Table


seared paneer with tea and honey vinaigrette| A Brown Table


seared paneer with tea and pineapple dressing | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips when preparing this paneer dish;

  • Use low-fat or full-fat milk derived paneer. Honestly, the fat-free kind tastes terrible.
  • I was tempted to call the tea and pineapple dressing a vinaigrette but the ratios of the components are a little off from the classical definition so I’ve labeled it a dressing. 
  • The tea is lightly sweetened with fresh pineapple juice which gives the dressing a little sweetness and tanginess. If you want it a little sweeter add a little more juice after tasting the dressing. 
  • The extra garnish of sea salt flakes at the end when serving is optional but I personally like the touch of saltiness because paneer by itself is generally not salty when made from milk.  


seared paneer with tea and honey vinaigrette| A Brown Table

seared paneer with tea and pineapple dressing 

yields: 4 servings

ingredients

400 grams (14 ounces) low-fat/full-fat paneer, chilled

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + a little extra for searing 

1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper powder

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika powder

a few fresh daikon radish shoots to garnish

a little Maldon sea salt flakes (optional)

tea and pineapple dressing

1 black tea bag (I used Darjeeling tea)

100mL boiling water

50mL white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons pineapple juice, fresh

100 mL extra virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1. Slice the paneer into 9 cm X 3 cm long slabs that are 1.5 cm thick.

2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, place the olive oil and the rest of the ingredients from the salt to the paprika and mix with a spoon. Brush each of the paneer slabs with this mixture and allow them to sit for 10 minutes at room temperature to absorb the flavors.

3. Heat a little extra oil in a medium-sized skillet on medium – high heat. When the oil just starts to smoke, place two to three slabs of the seasoned paneer. Cook on each side until seared and lightly browned. This should take about 60-90 seconds on each side. Place the seared paneer on a dry paper towel to absorb any excess oil. Cook the rest of the paneer in the same manner and keep aside until ready to use.

4. To prepare the dressing, place the tea bag in a small heat proof bowl. Pour the boiling water over it and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Drain the tea bag to remove any excess liquid (avoid squeezing the bag or the tea liquid will turn murky). Pour the tea into a medium bowl along with the remaining ingredients. Whisk until combined. 

5. To serve place the hot/warm seared paneer slabs in a serving dish. Drizzle the paneer with as much as tea dressing as desired. Garnish with a few fresh daikon shoots and sprinkle with extra sea salt flakes if desired. Serve immediately with extra dressing and daikon radish shoots on the side.

 

14 Responses

  1. Looks so good sir. Nice work. I love the crispy crust it gets when you sear it like that. Chefs Table has been on my netflix list for a few weeks now. I’ll have to move it to the top!

  2. The photos – OMG! – I just love them. And have you seen Annelies Zijderveld’s new cookbook called Steeped with all recipes that incorporate tea. This would fit right in! It’s a beautiful book.

  3. This is a beautiful way to eat paneer. I love a pinch of salt with my paneer too. I just finished the episode with Francis Mallmann and all I can think about is what should I cook over fire next.

  4. Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. This paneer is all my dreams come true!! I will eat paneer any which way, but seared has to be at the top of the list, especially with this heavenly dressing and those daikon sprouts — Nik!! You’re a genius. And so funny you mentioned it, we just watched The Chef’s Table the other day! SO good. Niki Nakayama’s episode made me simultaneously super hungry and emotional — hahaha. Love this post so much!

  5. Stop it! This is amazing! I LOVE paneer so much and all I can say is, YUMMMMM!!! I never thought about paneer being like tofu, now I want to try some of my old tofu dishes since I don’t eat it anymore! I’m with you on the Chef’s Table, we just finished watching them and absolutely loved them all! I hope they do more too.

  6. As a paneer lover, I look forward to trying this. I am so glad I discovered your blog because you use ingredients that I grew up with in Kenya but transform them into something new. I also loved Chef’s Table – and I do believe there is going to be another season. Honestly, it is so beautiful done but what I loved the most is the humanity in Gelb’s storytelling.

    1. Aubreu, it’s pretty easy to make at home. I do it often with fresh milk, perhaps a blog post for the future 🙂

  7. This looks AMAZING. And I’m totally with you on The Chef’s Table having too few episodes. Niki and Dan’s episodes were definitely my favorite of the bunch.

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