Celebrity chef and “Spice Goddess” Bal Arneson whips up an adventurous summer salad — plus fresh cheese in under 20 minutes!
DINNER IN A MINUTE | Quick and healthy may not be the first words most of us would use to describe Indian cuisine, but “healthy, aromatic and delicious meals that are quickly and easily prepared” were the mainstay of Vancouver bestselling cookbook author Bal Arneson’s childhood diet in India, and they are the focus of her recently released second cookbook Bal’s Quick & Healthy Indian.
Areneson, who also hosts the popular Spice Goddess show on the Cooking Channel, is a crossover cook with a talent combining South Asian and North American ingredients and techniques in a way that results in knockout dishes that look and taste both familiar and exotic whether your mother cuisine is Canadian or Indian.
Arneson demonstrates this skill in her recipe for Warm Beet and Paneer Salad below, one of 120 delicious offerings in Bal’s Quick & Healthy Indian. Paneer, a main ingredient, is a Punjabi cheese. Made from scratch, it can be ready to eat in under 20 minutes. “I pan-fry the pieces and use it for cooking, or sometimes I grate or crumble it,” Arneson says. “It is so much fun to play with this cheese and create the dishes you desire.”
Bal Arneson’s Warm Beet and Paneer Salad
2 large beets, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp (30 mL) grapeseed oil
1 tsp (5 mL) garam masala (purchased or made from scratch)
1/2 tsp (5 mL) coriander, crushed
10 to 12 curry leaves (available at Indian food stores)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup (60 mL) grated paneer (see recipe below)
1 tsp (5 mL) lime juice
Place the beets in a saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the beets are still slightly crunchy. Remove from the heat, drain, and cool slightly.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the garam masala, coriander and curry leaves and cook for 5 seconds. Add the salt, pepper and grated paneer and cook until the paneer turns golden brown, about 15 to 20 seconds. Turn the heat off and add the lime juice.
Sprinkle the paneer mixture over the beets and toss before serving. Serve warm.
How To Make Homemade Paneer
Makes 2 1/2 cups (625 mL), about 1 lb (500 g)
8 cups (2 L) whole milk
4 cups (1 L) buttermilk
Bring the milk to a boil in a large pot. Add the buttermilk and stir until the mixture separates into solids and liquid. Line a sieve with cheesecloth and place it over a bowl. Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve to drain the curd, then discard the liquid.
Wrap the curd in the cheesecloth, place it in the sieve and put a heavy weight, such as a cookie jar or rice container, on top. Let it drain for 20 minutes.
Remove the cheesecloth and cut the paneer into small cubes. Use immediately or refrigerate in a covered container for up to 5 days. If you don’t have time to make paneer, you can purchase it at Real Canadian Superstore.
Bal’s Quick & Healthy Indian is published by Whitecap Books and available at chapters.indigo.ca
Photo: Tracey Kusiewicz, courtesy Whitecap Books