Paneer is an Indian cheese with a firm texture, and a subtle milky taste. It’s non-melting, and this makes it a perfect candidate for marinating and grilling. The tangy, smoky and spicy tandoori style marinade penetrates the milky cheese, and the quick grill crisps the outside to perfection. These tasty kebabs are a beautiful vegetarian answer to barbecue. It doesn’t always have to be a carnivorous affair, though the tandoori marinade would taste just as amazing on chicken.
In this recipe, I’ve used homemade minted paneer. It’s quite easy to make, and if you have the time consider trying your hand at it. In my opinion, the fresh homemade stuff is just superior in every way to what you can find at the market.
Paneer is a bit of an indulgence, but is a delicious and nutritious alternative protein source. It’s high in calcium, protein and is quite filling as a main course. Consider using paneer in place of tofu in your favorite vegetarian recipes. Paneer will take on the flavor of the marinade or sauces used, much like tofu, but I greatly prefer the texture. It’s firm but crumbles in your mouth.
I skewered the marinated paneer with zucchini, red onion and red bell pepper, and served it with a curried couscous (recipe coming soon!) for a light and delicious meal.
For the kabobs:
- 8 ounces fresh paneer cut into 1 inch cubes (preferably homemade – recipe here)
- 1 red bell pepper chopped into chunks
- 1/2 red onion chopped into chunks
- 2 Italian squash or zucchini cut into thick slices
- 1 tablespoon high smoke point oil such as peanut or vegetable
- Fresh lime and cilantro for garnish
- 6 ounces greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or lime juice
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons tandoori seasoning (I cheated here and used my favorite pre-made blend from Penzey’s Spices. I love that stuff!)
- Or you could be a fancy-pants and make your own from a blend of coriander, cumin, sweet paprika, garlic, ginger, cardamom and saffron
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
If you’re going to use homemade paneer, start there. It will need about 1 hour from start to finish, plus at least 2 hours marinating time.
- Cube paneer into 1 inch cubes and place in a large dish for marinating
- Mix together marinade ingredients, and pour over paneer tossing gently to coat.
- Cover and marinate for at least 2 hours in the fridge, or up to overnight. (I opted to prepare mine the night before to save time)
- Prepare peppers, onion and squash, cutting each into pieces of similar size
- Thread onto skewers alternating between veggies and marinated cheese
- Pre-heat grill or grill pan to high heat and lightly brush with oil (I’m in love with my indoor grill pan)
- Grill kabobs 4 minutes on each side, turning gently to avoid breaking the paneer
I also opted to grill some large paneer triangles on the side, for an easier option. My curved skewers were a pain in the butt here. I definitely recommend straight ones. If you’re using wooden, be sure to soak them in water for an hour before use to avoid burning.