Strange summer and shashliks

Mallika Basu - Strange summer and shashliks

Posted 15th August 2007

paneer-kebab.jpgWarm and sheltered from the rainy British weather in a beautiful Malaysian restaurant, we joined our Bengali friend and her mates for a big 3-0 birthday dinner last night.

Just as I was getting in touch with my inner Zen zone after the glorious starter, the waiter handed me the beautifully-presented menu, asking: “Would you like some inter-course?”

I hastily turned down the strange request only to realise he was refering to the option of a mini nibble between the starter and main course.

As I tucked into my spicy marinated quail and coconut rice, I thought fondly about the sunny weekend in Cambridge and the other Indian BBQ dish I made.

It was a tandoori paneer shashlik – chunks of Indian cheese marinated in a tandoori masala and threaded onto skewers with peppers and onions. Paneer can at best be described as solid buffalo mozzarella when hot and polystyrene when cold (Not that I eat polystyrene regularly or anything). It is widely available from Indian shops and I have even bought it at the local supermarket recently.

The paneer gets marinated here in tandoori masala. This is just about the only pre-mixed spice powder I use, because a) it’s a drag to make it from scratch and b) it won’t stink your house up because you tend to cook it outside.

A popular vegetarian tandoori dish at home, this was real hit with the British and Peruvian members of our family. Try this dish with some naan for a really lovely summer lunch.

This recipe serves 10 if alongside other BBQ dishes, 5 on its own:

3 x 250 gm paneer

4 heaped tbsp tandoori masala powder

6 cloves garlic

3 inches ginger

300 gm low fat natural yogurt

Juice of 1 lemon

6 peppers

2 onions

3 tbsp sunflower or corn oil

Salt to taste

Chop the paneer into bite-sized cubes, about one square inch each and puree the ginger and garlic.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the cubes of paneer with the yogurt, tandoori masala, ginger, garlic, lemon juice and some salt. You want a bright red, strong marinade.

Now chop the peppers and onions into large, even chunks – halve and then quarter. In another bowl, mix them with the oil and some salt.

Finally thread the ingredients into bamboo skewers – pepper, onion, tandoori paneer, pepper, onion and another cube of paneer. Repeat this with 10 skewers.

When the BBQ is ready, cook the skewers until the peppers and onions get charred on the outside and the paneer softens to a mozzarella -like texture. Eat it straightaway before the paneer goes cold.

P.S. = Happy Independence Day. I tried and failed to write something less frivolous on this historic day, but others have had more success than me…

20 responses to “Strange summer and shashliks”

  1. Asha says:

    *”Would you like some inter-course?”* LOLLL!!!!! Oh dear!! What a dilemma for you Mallika!:))
    Happy I day to you. Shashliks look great. Enjoy.

  2. richa says:

    LOL! that cheeky waiter!or was the mind working overtime 😉
    Paneer looks YUM!
    Happy Independence Day!

  3. Lata says:

    That was interesting. A good recipe.

    Happy I-day to you!

  4. Suganya says:

    Lovely colors.. Is their an inter-course b/w starters and main course? When this gonna stop, God knows!

  5. bee says:

    so what would’ve happened if you said ‘yes’ to the inter-course? curious mind wants to know.

  6. sra says:

    That was priceless! English is so marvellously (?) adapted, isn’t it?

  7. Wendy says:

    Hillarious! Love it.
    The paneer looks amazing.

  8. Erin says:

    Funny story! This looks really yummy!

  9. Poonam says:

    Hi Mallika, LOL! the picture is making me J!

  10. coffee says:

    hahahaha…… I am trying to imagine the expressions on all your faces!! LOL!!

    That pic looks absolutely inviting Mallika. 🙂

  11. sandeepa says:

    Errrr so what did you have … 🙂 ?

    The tandoori paneer looks heavenly

  12. nandita says:

    That burst of colour is an utter show stopper!!! And that was FUNNY 😀 May be its their policy to make the customers laugh out loud to increase their appetite….both your tikkas look absolutely pro!

  13. Meena says:

    haha…”inter-course”! Now that’s a course that would peek anyone’s interest! lol! Tikkas looks to-die-for!

  14. kathryn says:

    Boy oh BOY, that looks good. I shall be saving that up for summer when it’s BBQ season again. Thanks Mallika

  15. Tammi says:

    Hi Mallika, love your site. I have Indian friends who have two grown boys that I like to cook for and have tried to cook Indian food for them but they usually end up laughing at me. My favorite dish is Butter Chicken which I have a recipe that I have totally bastardized and I call it White Irish Girls Butter Chicken. It works for my family but I would love to have an authentic recipe I could make for my “boys”, I always bring them my leftovers and would like to surprise them with something from their homeland (even though they were born here, their parents are from Northern India, not sure which part)

    Could you post one?

  16. Mansi says:

    Wow, this just took me down memory lane to our bbq paneer tikka during our camping trips. Did u know the story behind the July 4th barbecues thought? pretty interesting- read it at

  17. Mona says:

    wow, what an inter course, oops !! 😉 Ha ha
    Very good pic and interesting recipe Mallika.

  18. Krishna says:

    Very funny story!!

    Have to try and see if my Indian grocery store here stock the tandoori masala pwd….

  19. Tom says:

    Great writing thank you. I love foreign food, reading about it too!

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