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Where EAST meets the Northwest

GRILLED CHEESE TWIST. Servings of Spicy Grilled Paneer are seen in London. Paneer is Indian unsalted white cheese. It has a mild flavor so takes to marinades really well and, unlike most cheeses, it can be grilled without melting, so that it softens in the middle and chars on the edges. (AP Photos/Meera Sodha)

From The Asian Reporter, V26, #12 (June 20, 2016), page 9.

A spicy turn on grilled cheese

By Meera Sodha

The Associated Press

When it comes to cooking, my father has never really strayed into the kitchen. Once, when my mother was away, he made himself a "salad" using a can of tuna, a red pepper, and a cucumber and called me (and a handful of others) as enthusiastically as if heíd won the lottery to let us all know.

In search of something celebratory to cook for him one Fatherís Day, I asked him what his favorite dish was. He replied, "Anything you or your mother cook for me is always the best" ó a good answer from a man who would otherwise be eating tuna salad every day.

But the joy of being my fatherís daughter is that I know the things that make him stop and smile for a moment. And that thing, for my father, is cheese, in particular paneer.

Paneer is Indian unsalted white cheese. It has a mild flavor so takes to marinades really well and, unlike most cheeses, it can be grilled without melting so that it softens in the middle and chars on the edges.

This marinade is for the dish known as Paneer Tikka in India. Itís made with some pantry staples like coriander, cumin, chili powder, and yogurt. The marinade gives the paneer an addictive, lip-smacking, and savory flavor.

And the bonus: This low-effort-high-reward dish doesnít take much time to whip up, leaving you more time to spend with your father.

Editorís Note: Meera Sodha is an Indian foods expert and author of Made in India: Recipes from an Indian Family Kitchen.

* * *

Spicy Grilled Paneer

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Servings: 4

4 tablespoons Greek yogurt

1 lemon, juiced, plus extra wedges to serve

1 tablespoon chickpea flour

4 large cloves of garlic, peeled

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons red chili powder

1 tablespoon canola or other neutral oil

1 lb. paneer

2 handfuls of fresh coriander, chopped

2 bell peppers, cubed

1 red onion, cut into 8 pieces

1 small zucchini, thickly sliced

The paneer is best served hot with a salad, raita, and some Indian flatbreads, like roti or naan. Paneer is more widely available in Asian supermarkets, specialty stores, and online. Youíll also need some skewers.

Blend the yogurt, lemon juice, chickpea flour, garlic, cumin, coriander, salt, and chili powder together in a blender, then tip the marinade into a bowl. Add a handful of chopped coriander and mix.

Cut the paneer blocks into nine equal-sized cubes and add to the marinade. Stir to mix. Then thread each of your skewers alternately with the onion, pepper, zucchini, and paneer.

To cook the paneer, coat a griddle pan with oil and heat the pan until very hot. Lightly oil the pan so the paneer doesnít stick. Place the skewers onto the pan and turn every minute or so until they are evenly cooked and a little charred on each side.

Serve with fresh coriander and lemon wedges.

Nutrition information per serving: 443 calories (284 calories from fat); 32 g fat (19 g saturated, 0 g trans fats); 114 mg cholesterol; 416 mg sodium; 13 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 28 g protein.

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