Tandoor literally means a cylindrical clay oven inside which wood or charcoal is burnt and the food is cooked inside this oven. The temperature in the oven can reach up to 450 degrees F. The oven is kept continuously lit to maintain these high temperatures. Food is thus cooked on live coal, cooked also with convection heat and also gets the smoky flavour from the juices and fats from meats and vegetables dripping on to burning wood or coal.
This type of cooking is popular in southern, western and central Asia. Breads , meats and vegetables they all acquire a distinct smoky flavour from the Tandoor. Most people identify Tandoori cooking with the artificially coloured Tandoori chicken ( not the best representation of such a traditional healthy way of cooking!!! And off course who can forget the buttery soft Naan bread and Rotis.
I have brought you today another popular dish called tandoori paneer off course not made in the tradional clay oven but an easier version made in a toaster oven or a big oven. I find a good toaster oven very versatile. This dish was a hit at the latest family dinner.hope you will enjoy it as much as we did. You can buy paneer in indian grocery stores and also some big mainstream grocery stores. You can also subsitute the paneer with exra firm tofu.
1lb. Paneer or tofu cut into 1”cubes
1 red onion cut into big pieces
1 green pepper or yellow pepper deseeded and cut into big pieces
4 tbsp. thick strained home made yoghurt or thick store bought natural yoghurt
1tsp. nigella seeds
1tsp. sambal oelek orr masala
2 tbsp. finely chopped mint and cilantro or ground paste chilli garlic sauce
2- 3 tsp. karahi Paneer masala ( available in Indian grocery store )
1. Mix all the above ingredients except the oil and let it sit either overnight or even few hours so that the flavours soak in.
2. Mix the oil in the mixture.
3. In a baking dish or a tray spread the paneer mixture evenly and bake at 350 degrees F for a 15 – 20 minutes stirring occasionally.
4. Once baked, the vegetables are tender crisp and edges start to brown you can broil it for another 5- 7 minutes.
5. Please adjust the baking time depending on your oven and your personal preference as to how grilled you want everything to be.
6. Once grilled the paneer should be moist and vegetables sweet and juicy.
7. Serve as an appetizer or over steamed rice or make a wrap. You may serve it with a green chutney.