Asian stir-fry of Paneer, sweet corn and Vegetables

I didn’t make much of it when in our early days Jagan’d say often how he loved travelling to far-off places, driving all the way. He loved being behind the wheel. Little did I know that that meant me becoming the ‘cleaner’ buckled into the passenger seat for hours together, fishing for change for toll booths, operating the GPS navigation keying in destinations and via-points and handing around water, snacks and cooling glasses, only relief being when the kids had to pee and I got to stand straight. I have a strong feeling I’ve taken the shape of XUV’s bucket seats after 5 days of travelling from morning till night. Every morning we’d wake up, shower, eat, pack up and pile into the car. We’d drive all day, reach our destination just in time for dinner, eat and sleep. Wake up next morning and drive to the next one. 5 nights – 5 places. We covered around 2000 km in just over 5 days. He has all the makings of a champion truck driver no doubt.

Asian stir fry of paneer, sweet corn and vegetables,grilled fish

It’s been more than a week since we returned. I still grope around for the seat belt even when I sit in my office chair and I feel faintly irritated whenever somebody asks me to sit.

thippanahalli homestay
Thippanahalli home-stay in Chikmagalur

The only time I willingly sat down was for the delicious home-cooked Malnad food – fresh Kadubus (rice balls), Akki rotis (rice flour rotis) served with a lip-smacking hot chutney, fragrant Tomato Rasam, steamed rice and Chicken Saaru in Chikmagalur. Heavenly! We stayed at an absolutely wonderful home-stay “Thippanahalli” set amidst a huge coffee estate in Chikmagalur. 

coffee plant, coffee beans
Coffee beans, grown on the Thippanahalli estate

I stalked the cook and helpers for the recipes the entire time I was there and managed to extract a quick abridged recipe rundown from the host’s mother who must have thought ‘Silly Apprentice cook – doesn’t know even Tomato Rasam’. My Maamiyaar must think the same thing too. I make a few nice rasams but I’ll go after every good rasam out there, think what people may. Rasams are some of the simplest yet soul-stirring foods there are. 

Taking a walk through the coffee estate

The recipe today is not from our drive-athon trip though (it’ll come soon). This is a simple light stir-fry that is great for after-trip guilt. Having stuffed my face with all the good food I am now dreading shopping for Diwali. I cannot bear to walk into the trial room with mirrors all around to show in maximum brutal detail how bloody fat you actually are, to scare the shit out of you. 

Asian stir fry of paneer, sweet corn and vegetables,grilled fish

So typically atypically while the rest of the blogosphere is raining Diwali sweets and savouries, I post this light Paneer and vegetable stir-fry with Asian flavours. For this stir-fry I like to throw in lots of chopped garlic and fresh ginger for maximum flavour. I also like to add in a bit of brown sugar to round out the flavours. You could adjust the quantities to your liking. Keep stirring/tossing the whole time and keep the heat fairly high and don’t cook covered. Add the toughest veggies first and the most delicate ones towards the end. And those are the only things you need to remember about stir-fries. Add in any sauces/spices you desire but go light. Stir-fries are lovely eaten hot. I grilled some fish to make it a complete meal. But you could serve a large bowl of this stir-fry all by itself and call it a meal. Nobody’d complain.

Asian stir fry of paneer, sweet corn and vegetables,grilled fish

Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 15 mins
Serves: 3

Ingredients – Asian stir-fry
Carrots – 2 peeled and chopped into juliennes
Green beans – a handful, chopped lengthwise
Iceberg Lettuce – 2 cups chopped roughly (substitute regular shredded cabbage if you wish)
Onion – 1 large sliced
Sweet corn kernels – ¾ cup
Paneer – 150 gm cut into cubes
Garlic – 3 cloves chopped fine
Fresh Ginger – 1 inch piece minced
Salt to taste
Black pepper powder – ¾ tsp
Light soy sauce – 2 tsp
Brown sugar – ¼ tsp
Garlic powder – ½ tsp (optional)
Oil – 2-3 tbsp

  1. Heat a non-stick tawa or cast iron skillet and add a tablespoon of oil. When hot, drop the paneer cubes and fry on medium heat till they are golden around the edges and toasted. Remove the fried paneer pieces to a plate.
  2. In a small bowl, combine together salt, black pepper powder, soy sauce, garlic powder and brown sugar. Mix well. Set aside.
  3. To a wok, add the remaining oil and when smoking hot, add the chopped garlic and ginger. After a minute, add the sliced onions. Stir around. When the onions turn translucent, add the chopped carrots and beans and stir around making sure to keep the heat fairly high and tossing around the vegetables constantly lest they burn. Toss around for about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the sweet corn kernels. Pour over the sauce mixture and toss well for another 2-3 minutes. Add the fried paneer and the Iceberg lettuce. Toss for a minute. Switch off. Serve hot along with grilled chicken or grilled fish for a complete meal.

Prep time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 20-25 mins
Serves: 3

Ingredients – Grilled fish
Asian Sea bass fillets/Barramundi fillets/Koduva – 6 fillets (or any fish fillets of your choice)
Red chilli powder – 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Lemon juice – 1 tbsp (or tamarind extract) + 1 tbsp water
Black pepper powder – 1 tsp
Oil – 1 tbsp
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Lightly oil a baking tray and set aside.
  2. Combine together salt, black pepper powder, red chilli powder, lemon juice and oil in a small bowl. Mix well. Set aside.
  3. Wash and pat dry the fish fillets.
  4. Use your fingers to rub the marinade all over the fish fillet. Repeat with all the fish fillets. Place the fish fillets on the baking tray and place the baking tray in the middle rack of the oven.
  5. Grill for 10 minutes. Flip over gently and grill for another 10 minutes. The fish must be cooked through by now. The fish should break easily now. If you break off a small portion of the fish, the inside would have turned white.
  6. Remove from oven. Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon juice.
Asian stir fry of paneer, sweet corn and vegetables,grilled fish

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