Indian Paneer tikka in Italian flavours.
Indian Paneer or Indian Cottage Cheese, Bell Peppers and Onions marinated fresh Basil Pesto..
My family loves Paneer and since we are vegetarians Paneer is one of the main sources of protein other than lentils and beans. For Indian vegetarians, Paneer dishes are one of the most ordered dishes in restaurants. Be it starters, be it main course there will be at least one Paneer based dish.
Paneer Tikka, is one of the internationally most famous starter or cocktail Indian snack. Hardly anyone is there who don't know about Paneer Tikka or Chicken Tikka(it's non- vegetarian version). Soft Paneer cubes marinated in tikka marinade which is a thick yogurt based marinade made with besan(chickpea flour), Indian spices (like garam masala, turmeric, red chilli powder) and fresh herbs like mint and cilantro and grilled. Paneer tikka is served with a yogurt based mint chutney. For vegetarians it one of the best grilled dish which they can enjoy at barbeque parties.
Basil Pesto is an Italian uncooked sauce/chutney that is made with fresh basil leaves. The other ingredients of the peasto are garlic, pine nuts and olive oil and parmesan cheese . Like Indian Cilantro Chutney, pesto is made with crushed basil leaves and other ingredients in mortar pestle. Nowadays people make it in grinders or food processors. Also, many versions of pesto like cilantro chutney are there without pine nuts (as these are not available everywhere and also the cost factor) or without cheese due to veganism.
Why Pesto Paneer Tikka..
It is Holi time and I was thinking of doing some starter dish for Holi parties. So, when Kalyani Sri from my facebook Foodie Monday bloghop group suggested theme .. Desi Twist, Indian dish with a twist from some other cuisine, I decided to make this Paneer Tikka with Basil Pesto. I had recently done 2-3 fusion dishes.. Paneer Makhani Wonton Cups, Aloo Chana Taco Chaat, so for me it was the perfect share for the theme coming festival also. I came across the recipe of this Pesto Paneer Tikka at a Sanjeev Kapoor site 2-3 years back while looking for Indian recipes with Pesto. We love pesto based dishes and I use it a lot in baking breads(Basil Pesto Bread), pasta or sandwiches and wraps. I love to make fresh basil pesto at home many time with a less cheesy version. My kids also Paneer tikka
For the first time when I made these Paneer tikka with basil pesto all three of them loved it. I also made some paneer pesto sandwiches with the leftover tikkas. Many times I just mix paneer with pesto and make grilled sandwiches or pizza. The flavorful paneer tikkas are also liked my friends, who told me that these are welcome change from the typical Paneer tikka dish.
Making Pesto Tikkas..
To make tikkas we need to prepare the marinade, and then marinate the paneer and bell peppers and onions in the marinade at least 1 hr before grilling. For making marinade we need thick yogurt preferably greek yogurt, spices like turmeric powder, red chili powder and basil pesto. You can make fresh basil pesto at home or use the store-bought one. Here you will find my Homemade Basil Pesto with cashew nuts recipe. You can marinate paneer and veggies and keep in refrigerator covered in cling film , even a day before making these. When ready to serve or eat, just grill for 10 mins and serve.
Let's see my version of Pesto Paneer Tikkas..
Basil Pesto Paneer Tikka
- 250 gms Paneer/Indian Cottage Cheese
- 1 Cup Greek Yogurt/Thick Curd
- 1/4 Cup Besan/Chickpea Flour
- 1 Cup Mixed bell Peppers(Cubed)
- 1/2 Cup Cubed Onions
- 1/2 Cup Basil Pesto
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1/2-1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
- Italian Seasoning
- 1/2 Cup Mozzarella Cheese optional
- 1 tsp Salt or as per taste
- Cut paneer into thick cubes. Roast chickpea flour till it gives aroma.
- In a bowl add greek yogurt. red chilli powder, turmeric powder, chickpea flour, basil pesto and salt. Add salt as per your taste as pesto already has some salt.
- Mix in grated mozzarella cheese.
- Add and mix paneer and bell pepper and onion cubes and coat well all the pieces well in the marinade.
- Cover the bowl with a cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Take out 10 minutes before when ready to serve and grill for 8-10 mins. Do not over grill as paneer pieces can become hard.
- Take out, season with some Italian seasoning and yogurt mint dip or even with sour cream or any chutney or dip of your choice.
Festival time or get-togethers with friends and family or just like that for weekend nights when you want something different at home to get the restaurant kind of feeling make these tikkas and enjoy with your favourite drink. Kids too will love these. You can always adjust the spice level as per your requirement or taste.
You can make sandwiches or wraps or topping of pizza with these tikkas.Whenever you try these , do post a picture of the dish. I will love to see the pics on any of my social media pages..FB or tag me on Instagram(#foodtrails25) . You can also Pin the recipe for later use.
Sharing this with Angie's Fiesta Friday co hosted this week by Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and moi.
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