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Paneer Tikka Peppers

This dish actually arose by accident. I was intending to make paneer tikka kebabs: deliciously firm, bouncy cubes of Indian cheese marinated in a fragrant yoghurt tikka paste, threaded onto skewers with chunks of pepper and placed under a hot grill. Until I realized I didn’t actually have any skewers, and friends were coming round imminently. Improvising rapidly, I decided to halve the peppers and stuff them with the cheese.

This actually turned out to be one of the best vegetarian dishes I’ve ever made. There’s no faffing about removing things from skewers, either – just the wonderful, unadulterated joy of soft, sweet caramelized peppers and tangy, spiced cheese that stays firm under the grill, turning burnished and toasty where the heat scorches it. Paneer is great for holding its shape – it has a texture similar to halloumi, with less squeakiness, and takes on bold Indian flavours beautifully.

This looks more impressive than the effort required to make it – simply marinating some cheese in a fragrant mixture of thick yoghurt, tikka paste, a pinch of curry powder, crushed garlic and zingy lemon, in juice form and in salt form (from JustIngredients), then stuffing the peppers and throwing it all under the grill. Fabulous.

This is very good served with pilau rice, dal and a coriander chutney (blitz a big bunch of coriander in a blender with some garlic, yoghurt, lime juice and zest, green chillies, salt and sugar to taste).

Instructions

  • First, marinate the cheese. Mix the tikka paste, yoghurt, lemon juice, garlic, lemon salt, curry powder and pepper in a large bowl then add the cheese. Mix well to coat the cheese, then cover and put in the fridge for a few hours.

  • When ready to cook, heat the grill to around 220C. Halve the peppers lengthways; remove the seeds but try and leave the stalks on for decoration. Stuff each pepper with some cubes of cheese, and drizzle any remaining marinade over at the end. Grill for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is golden and toasted and the peppers have softened slightly.

Recipe and photographs courtesy of Elly McCausland, Nutmegs seven

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