Paneer Tacos

I still remember the very first time I had mexican cuisine and immediately fell in love with it. It was nothing fancy, just a simple veggie quesedilla with a generous dollop of sour cream. The simplicity and vibrant flavors were endearing to me. Since then, I have come a long way in experiencing and trying out different worldly cuisines but mexican food has always been one of my top favorites. This fondness of mexican food could be because I find it has a certain level of similarity with Indian cuisine – a few familiar ingredients like rice, beans, lime, coriander and particularly the spicy component. I love my food spicy, the spicier the better!

Paneer is something I love in anyway it is prepared. For these tacos, I marinated the soft paneer cubes in a blend of beautifully vibrant and aromatic Indian spices. I used some thick yogurt to add a hint of tang to the marinade. Paneer breathes in all the flavors and when these marinated paneer are toasted/fried they get a nice golden color making them totally drool-worthy. For me no taco, quesedilla or sandwich is complete without some sauteed onions and bell peppers. Another must component for these tacos is pico de gallo. It has all the basic ingredients that are always available in most kitchens. The only thing I substituted was jalapenos. I instead used Indian green chillies for the nice spice kick. I finished the tacos off with some fresh coriander and lime juice. Finally, to bring everything together I used coriander chutney as a spread on the tortilla as well as a sauce topping. Herbed raita would also be a great add-on here.

To make it vegan, use tofu instead of paneer, skip yogurt and use a couple of tsps of oil to bring the marinade together.

Make these fusion tacos for an appetizing and wholesome lunch or dinner.

Recipe

Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Yields: 5 or 6 tacos

Ingredients:

– soft taco flour tortillas

Toppings-

Paneer,

  • 1 cup, 1-inch paneer cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon or more salt as per taste
  • 2 teaspoons thick plain yogurt

Sauteed onions and bell peppers,

  • 3/4th cup thinly sliced red onions
  • 1 cup thinly sliced colored bell pepper
  • a pinch of salt

Pico de gallo,

  • 1/2 cup de-seeded and finely diced tomato
  • 1/4th cup finely chopped red onions
  • 4 finely chopped green chillies
  • 2 or 3 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1/4th teaspoon black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • handful of finely chopped coriander

To serve,

  • coriander chutney
  • coriander for garnish
  • lime wedges as needed

Directions:
1. If using frozen paneer, soak the packet in warm water for a few minutes so that it becomes a little soft. I usually like to thaw it for a few hours in the refrigerator before using it.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the spices for the paneer marinade. Cut softened paneer into 1 inch cubes. Add these to the marinade and gently mix to coat all the cubes.
3. In a pan, heat 3 teaspoons of oil. Add chopped onions, green peppers, and a pinch of salt. Saute on low-medium heat for around 5 mins until they are lightly brown. Remove into a bowl/plate.
4. In the same pan, add 2 more teaspoons of oil. Add the marinated paneer and on low-medium heat saute/fry on all sides until palely brown. Should not take more than 10 mins.
5. Combine all the ingredients for pico de gallo in a separate bowl.
6. Heat the tacos on both sides and keep them in a hot pack or wrap it in aluminium foil so that they stay warm.

To assemble these tacos,

  • Take a warm taco and spread some coriander chutney (I just used a store bought one).
  • Add sauteed onions, bell peppers, fried paneer and pico de gallo.
  • Top with some more coriander chutney if needed and a light squeeze of lime juice.
  • Garnish with some fresh coriander and dig in.

These vibrant, flavorful tacos are best served warm and are a perfect dish to make ahead for a summer picnic party as well. Just make the individual components in advance. Warm up the tacos and assemble everything together when it’s time to devour!