I’ve never really worked over plating my food, using what naturally comes to me, and presenting it the same way. For me, food looks best in its rustic form, but that doesn’t mean presentation is not important. I just never give nor gave much thought into trying to use techniques along with my food.
But this time, after hearing of a (nearly unattainable) contest on a food group on social media, I decided to hone my skills, and give it a try.
Food plating is an art, it needs to come from within and be natural. I wouldn’t want my plate of food to resemble something set up by a robot, and at the same time, I don’t want to overfill and crowd it with elements. I’ve been an avid watcher of MasterChef Australia, and you see such wonderful techniques there.
This is just my humble attempt at recreating something pretty, while not going overboard. I know props and backgrounds matter, but I really like to keep my food simple….and so, here it is…a different take on quite a simple dish!
Panner-Cheddar Sandwiches with Cheese Herb Sauce, and Cilantro-Garlic Vinaigrette 🙂
For the sandwiches
- Paneer/Cottage cheese – 6 slices, about 1.5 inches in diameter
- Grated cheddar cheese – 1 cup
- Grated paneer – 2 tbsp
- Chopped raisins – 1 tbsp
- Red chili flakes or paprika – 1/2 tsp
- Salt – add ONLY if needed, I didn’t need to.
- Cornflour – 2 tbsp, dissolved in water to make a runny batter with a pinch of salt
- Butter or oil – 1 tbsp for shallow frying
For the sauce:
- Cheddar cheese – 1 cup
- Butter – 2 tbsp
- Flour – 2 tbsp
- Milk – 1 cup
- Black pepper – 1 tsp
- Salt – to taste
- Chili flakes – 1/2 tsp
- Coriander – finely chopped, a few tbsp
For the Vinaigrette:
- Cilantro/Coriander – 1 cup packed, finely chopped
- Garlic – 6 to 7 cloves
- Olive oil – 4 tbsp
- Lime juice – of 1 lime/lemon
- Salt – a pinch
- Sugar – a pinch
For the sandwiches
- Take each of the paneer slices and using a sharp knife, cut them down the middle, until it’s almost cut through but not fully, leaving a little attached.
- Mix the grated paneer, cheese and raisins, with the chili flakes and then stuff each paneer slice liberally.
- Now dip the sandwiches into the cornflour slurry, leaving any excess off, and shallow fry them for a min on each side, with oil or butter until a nice, golden crunch forms on top.
- (Don’t fry them for too long or they’ll turn rubbery)
- Now keep them aside on a paper towel lined plate.
For the sauce:
- Heat a skillet and melt the butter.
- Once bubbling and golden, add the flour, and whisk until it’s mixed in and the raw smell has gone.
- Season, leaving the chopped cilantro for later, and add the grated cheese, and milk.
- Keep whisking immediately, and then quickly turn off the heat.
- The residual heat in the pan will cook the sauce until nice and creamy and of pouring consistency.
- Sprinkle half the coriander, and give it a gentle mix, and keep aside.
- For the Vinaigrette:
- In a mortal and pestle, pound the garlic and cilantro, with some oil and lime juice, sugar and salt until a coarse mixture is formed, and the garlic has completely dissolved.
- In a blender, add the ingredients except oil, and whiz them until they’ve broken down.
- Now add the oil in a drizzle, or simply add it all in one go if using a normal mixer jar, and whiz until smooth.
- On a plate, begin by spooning about 2 tbsp sauce on one end.
- Using a pastry brush, brush the sauce to the other end in a quick stroke.
- Place the paneer sandwiches on the narrow brushed end, and quickly, pour the Vinaigrette over, spooning some on top.
- Grate some cheese for a final touch, and serve hot, with garlic bread and soup 🙂