Very vegetarian….Paneer and Spinach Koftas

Paneer and Spinach Yudhika Sujanani

Paneer and Spinach Koftas….by Yudhika Sujanani

I recently joined a group on Facebook called ‘Strictly Vegetarian Recipes’ and it has been an inspiration. The group was started by Prathna Singh in memory of her mom who was a vegetarian. I have been so amazed by the recipes posted but mostly the enthusiasm of the members. From eggless baking to old fashioned recipes, the group share their love for all things deliciously vegetarian.

I have been raised in a meat loving home where veggies were for days that were financially challenging. Preparing veggie meals has not been at the top of my list but the ladies of ‘Strictly Vegetarian’ keep me on my toes and thinking of new ideas to share.

With the rise of the celebrity and masterchef generation, we tend to forget to acknowledge the home cooks and chefs from the older generation….there is no TV audience but it is where most recipes come from! Aunties and grannies, mothers and neighbours…recipes were shared through the local grapevine….I would also like to thank the members of the group for their amazing work and spirit in keeping the page alive and brimming with decadent ideas.

Some of the contributors on the page are Mrs Priscilla Ron Sha, Prathna Singh, Usha Singh and Sherry Baijnath. Thanks ladies for the delicious shares! This blog is a celebration so don’t forget to enter the AMC Cookware Competition, click here for the details… Don’t forget the hashtags…#amcforlife #yudhikayumyum in your comments!

Here is a recipe from my veggie files…I used a combination of Indian and Thai flavours in the sauce. Coconut milk, lemongrass and lime leaves combined with Indian spices make this sauce utterly decadent. Lime leaves can be found at Asian supermarkets and can be kept in the pantry for over a year. When I am short on lemongrass, I just add a few extra lime leaves to mimic the citrus zing….it does work so don’t panic if you can’t find the lemongrass! When using coconut milk, I recommend the following brands…Mae Ploy, Aroy D and Chao Koh or you can use the Spar brand coconut cream (with the yellow label). Some of the brands are really watery and ruin the sauce. For the basic paneer recipe, click here… – just remember to use Clover milk for the recipe…from my recipe testing, it seems to work best for paneer.

These recipes can be sent directly to your inbox…all you have to do is click follow on the bottom of the page…scroll down to the very bottom of the page!

Paneer and Spinach Koftas

200g grated paneer
2 large boiled potatoes, grated
150g baby spinach, finely shredded
7,5ml crushed ginger
7,5ml crushed garlic
2 green chillies, finely chopped
5ml ajwain (ajmo)
5ml fine salt

Chickpea batter
500ml chickpea flour
2,5ml ajwain
2,5ml salt
Cold water, to make batter

Sunflower oil, to fry koftas

For the sauce:
750g chopped tomatoes
250ml cold water
2 cloves garlic
5ml crushed ginger
6 lime leaves
1 stalk lemongrass
4 green cardamom pods
1 bay leaf
15ml red chilli powder
5ml ground cumin
5ml ground coriander
5ml garam masala
5ml sugar
125ml coconut milk
Fresh coriander, to garnish

Here’s how:

Place the grated paneer, potato and baby spinach in a mixing bowl. Add the ginger, garlic, chopped chillies, ajwain and salt.
Mix well until the ingredients are combined.
Mould the mixture into balls and leave in the refrigerator for a few minutes.
Make a batter with the chickpea flour, ajwain, salt and cold water.
Dip the koftas in the batter and then deep fry in hot oil.
Remove from the oil and leave to cool slightly, then dip in chickpea batter and fry again.
Leave to drain on a wire rack.

To make the sauce:

Place the tomatoes in a 24cm AMC pot and bring to the boil.
Pour in the water, then add garlic, ginger, lime leaves and lemongrass.
Place the cardamom pods, and bay leaf into the pot.
When the tomatoes soften completely, pass the mixture through a sieve.
Use the back of the wooden spoon to press the mixture through ensuring just the whole spices and lemongrass is left in the sieve.
Discard the pulp and bring the liquid to the boil.
Add red chilli powder, ground cumin, coriander, garam masala and sugar.
Simmer for a 3 – 5 minutes.
Add coconut milk and simmer until the sauce is glossy.
Place the koftas into the coconut sauce and garnish with fresh coriander.


Paneer and lentil curry….

A little piece of heaven...Le Meridien, Chiang Rai...

A little piece of heaven…Le Meridien, Chiang Rai…

It’s storming here in Chiang Rai…and it doesn’t bother me at all….you see, I am at the Le Meridien Hotel and enjoying five-star service in the lap of luxury! The hotel room is large enough to host my entire family, the rim flow pool is too tempting to resist, and the service leaves nothing to be desired…I spent last night wondering how people here are so efficient without shouting at each other…my pet hate is South African restaurants where the staff talk loudly to each other, shout from across the room and then have lengthy conversations next to your table! What has happened to South African service and standards???

While I am away, I feel a little guilty for deserting my job as recipe provider especially during the fasting month…A quick curry in ten minutes is appealing on any day, but during the fasting month it’s a must! I double up on my paneer recipe and save half for an emergency curry day. You can check out the paneer recipe here…. and take a look at the video:

You don’t have to use goat’s milk for the paneer, cow’s milk will do perfectly…try using Clover Full cream milk – it does work best! By the way, I have to just add that I don’t work for Clover, but some brands are just worth a mention to turn a recipe into a flop proof one! I also used tinned tomatoes and lentils to cut down on the prep time…tinned tomatoes are a must especially when the tomato supply is a bit ‘iffy’…by this I mean always use super ripe tomatoes that have been left out at room temperature, not ones from the refrigerator! Refrigerator tomatoes lack flavour, don’t break down easily and sometimes just remain chunky. Tinned brown lentils, chickpeas and beans are my favourite ‘cheats’ for ten minute curries….do give it a try!

Paneer and lentil curry by Yudhika Sujanani

Paneer and lentil curry by Yudhika Sujanani

Paneer and Lentil Curry


400g paneer
50ml sunflower oil
1 small cinnamon stick
5ml cumin seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
7ml coarse salt
10ml crushed ginger and garlic
10ml red chilli powder
4 tomatoes, skinned and chopped
5ml ground cumin
5ml ground coriander
Pinch of turmeric
500ml cooked brown lentils
Or 2 x 400g tins lentils, drained
400g baby spinach, finely chopped
Fresh coriander, to garnish

Here’s how:

Heat the sunflower oil on medium in an 30cm AMC pan.
Add the cinnamon stick and cumin seeds, then saute until the seeds begin to splutter.
Stir the chopped onion into the oil, add the coarse salt.
Saute until the onion turns light golden brown.
Add the ginger and garlic – stir for a few second, then add red chilli powder.
Next add the tomatoes, and stir in the cumin, coriander and turmeric.
Once the tomatoes have softened, add the brown lentils and simmer 5 minutes on a low heat.
Scatter the spinach over the lentils and leave to wilt – this should take a minute or two.
Slice the paneer and place the pieces into the lentil and spinach sauce.
Garnish with fresh coriander.

No Goats, No Glory – The Mela Debut…

Mela Magic with Yudhika Sujanani

Mela Magic with Yudhika Sujanani

The big day has finally arrived! I cannot believe that after months of shooting and flying around South Africa, Mela will be launching tomorrow on SABC2 at 10.30am! I have been celebrating the launch date and the KitchenAid Stand Mixer competition has been keeping me incredibly busy. More about the competition on this link,

Rina and I at Belnori Boutique Cheesery....

Rina and I at Belnori Boutique Cheesery….

My first episode took the team and I out to Bapsfontein to Belnori Boutique Cheesery and it was a real treat. I was set on making paneer and thought it would be a great idea to try it with goat’s milk. We were met by the owners, Rina and Norman Beicher – this couple is really passionate about goats and cheese, of course! They produce an extensive range of award-winning cheeses. I am an absolute fan of ‘Chevre Frais’ or the soft goats cheese so I didn’t need much coazing to get started on the tasting!

The stars of the show....The Goats of Belnori!

The stars of the show….The Goats of Belnori!



Goats…I do love them! I think I must have fallen in love with these creatures at the Fairview Estate! I absolutely love the curiosity that sparkles in their eyes, their animated silliness, and they are incredibly mischievous!

Rina was an absolute charm and took me through the range of from cottage cheese to semi hard varieties, camembert and even yoghurt! But it was the fresh goats milk that i was after! I have sometimes tasted goats milk and cheese that was pretty unpleasant. Rina explained that the ewes are kept away from the rams and bathed regularly….it all comes down to good animal husbandry, she said! Tasting the products, I realized that she had a point…there weren’t any ‘goaty’ flavours in the yoghurt or cheese! Belnori is a gem!

I picked up a bucket and then hustled back to Holi Cow to prepare a batch of paneer! Cow’s milk can be used instead in this recipe…but if you are feeling adventurous, give the goat’s milk a chance!

Yudhika preparing paneer in the AMC paella pan

Yudhika preparing paneer in the AMC paella pan

A word about paneer…it does take some time to prepare so please do use a good pot for the preparation. I used the AMC paella pan, which is wider at the top. Use a paddle spoon to stir the milk as it heats through to prevent the milk from scorching which gives the paneer a nasty burnt flavour. I also prefer making up a larger batch of paneer so you get thicker, chunkier pieces and it can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days or even frozen until needed.

In the first episode, we got through two recipes…the preparation of the paneer and a double bean curry with creamy paneer! Double beans can sometimes be found in Fruit and Veg City stores and almost always at Indian greengrocer. They are bright, colourful, and delicious.

Fresh double beans from the Indian green grocer.....

Fresh double beans from the Indian green grocer…..

4 litres Full Cream Milk, either goat’s or cow’s milk
180 – 200ml white vinegar

Here’s how:
Boil the full cream milk in an AMC pot.
Stir the milk to prevent a skin from forming.
Prevent the milk from burning by scraping the bottom of the pan.
Once the milk comes up to the boil, add the vinegar.
The curds will separate from the whey.
If the whey still looks milky, add a little more vinegar.
Do not stir the milk – this will break the curd that will be difficult to work with.
The curd will float to the top and form a thick layer.
Gently scoop the curd into a sieve using a large slotted spoon.
Gently press the curd down with a spoon to remove excess moisture.
Tip the curd into a clean dishtowel and mould into a round.
Wrap the curd tightly and place on a chopping board.
Fill a large pot with water and place this on top of the paneer to press out the whey.
Leave aside until firm.

Yudhika’s Tips:

If the paneer is too soft, unwrap the cheese and leave uncovered in the refrigerator.

Double Bean Curry with Paneer by Yudhika Sujanani

Double Bean Curry with Paneer by Yudhika Sujanani

Double Beans with Paneer


60ml sunflower oil
5ml mustard seeds
5ml cumin seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
15ml ginger and garlic
15ml red chilli powder
5ml ground cumin
5ml ground coriander
Pinch of turmeric
1kg double beans, shelled
2 tomatoes, skinned and chopped
7ml coarse salt
Fresh curry leaves and coriander, to garnish

Heat the sunflower oil, then add the mustard seeds and fry until they splutter.
Add the cumin seeds and fry until they turn a shade darker.
Add the onion and sauté until the onion turns light golden brown.
Stir the ginger and garlic paste into the onion, then add the red chilli powder, cumin, coriander and turmeric – stir for 3 – 5 seconds.
Drop the double beans into the pot and stir well to coat.
Cover the beans with boiling water and simmer until they soften.
Add the chopped tomatoes and salt.
Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly.
Cut the paneer into chunks and place them over the cooked beans.
Lower the heat and simmer until the paneer heats through – add a more boiling water if the sauce is too thick.
Garnish with curry leaves and fresh coriander.

How to make Paneer….

Yudhika Paneer recipe...

Yudhika Paneer recipe…

Paneer is an Indian Cottage cheese…it resembles feta but does not contain salt. For vegetarians, this is the equivalent of a ‘lamb curry with mushy potatoes’ (my favourite). I use paneer in pastries, breyanis and even in starters!

Please please please, do not use low fat milk – so far, Full Cream Clover milk works best for this recipe. I do experiment a fair bit and this blog is not sponsored by Clover! Use a good pot, (I use AMC cookware) so that the milk does not scorch and burn on the bottom which will ruin the paneer.

I am just about to post the Paneer Makhani recipe…I anticipate that there will be recipe requests for the Paneer…



4 litres CLOVER Full Cream Milk
180 -200ml white vinegar

Boil milk in a large 30cm AMC cookware unit and stir continuously to prevent the milk from sticking.
Once the milk comes up to the boil, remove from the heat.
Pour the white vinegar around the pot and gently move the milk – do not stir.
If the mixture still looks milky, add a little more vinegar.
Leave aside for 30 minutes.
The curd should float to the top and form a thick layer.
Place the curd in a strainer and use the back of a spoon to press out the excess whey.
Tip the curd into a muslin cloth and mould it into a ‘cake’.
Place the paneer on a chopping board and place a large pot filled with water on top.
This will help the excess moisture drain away.
Leave to drain for 2 hours.
Place the paneer in a zip seal bag and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Yudhika’s tips:
Always use full cream milk when making paneer.
Leave the paneer on the draining board while it is being pressed – the whey can cause a mess.
If the paneer is too soft, leave it unwrapped in the refrigerator to firm up.

Paneer and Mushroom Pasties


You could take any spicy filling, wrap it in all butter puff pastry and know for sure that it will be a winner for me! I had a piece of paneer left in the refrigerator and some defrosted pastry. I rustled up this recipe in a flash. It’s a perfect veggie snack for tea time or can be served with cocktails!

Use all butter puff pastry for this recipe for the best flavour…a store bought one will do just fine! Click here if you would like to locate the nearest Curry Me Home stockists: or send me a message for the mail order details.

Paneer Pasties


2 x 500g ready-made puff pastry rolls
1 egg yolk
15ml Spar full cream milk


30ml sunflower oil
5ml crushed ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 – 4 green chillies, finely chopped
10ml Curry Me Home red chilli powder
1 x 400g tin Spar whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
5ml Curry Me Home ground cumin
5ml Curry Me Home ground coriander
1ml turmeric
250ml finely chopped button mushrooms
5ml coarse salt
200g paneer
100ml chopped fresh coriander

Place the ginger, garlic and chopped chilli in a mortar.
Pound until the ingredients are combined.
Pour the sunflower oil into an AMC 24cm pot and heat on medium.
Fry the pounded paste for a few seconds and then add the red chilli powder.
Stir for a few seconds and then add the chopped tomatoes.
Add the ground cumin, coriander and turmeric.
Lower the heat and simmer until the tomatoes resemble a thick paste.
Stir the button mushrooms and salt into the sauce.
Simmer for a few minutes until excess moisture evaporates.
Crumble the paneer into the sauce and leave to cool.
Sprinkle the coriander over and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Gently roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface.
Cut out little discs and place a little filling on half of the pastry.
Use a little cold water to sandwich the discs.
Press down gently around the edges with a fork.
Place the pasties on a greased baking tray.
Refrigerate the pies until the pastry firms up.
Beat the egg yolk with milk and brush this over the pastry without letting it spill down the sides.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for 12 – 15 minutes or until the pastry has puffed up and is golden brown in colour.

Yudhika’s tips:
The filling must be dry to prevent the pastry from becoming soggy.
Puff pastry needs to be kept cool for best results when baking.