Thursday, September 27, 2007

study-time brain food

coffee & espresso
sugar free Red Bull
coffeehouse muffins
buckwheat pancakes, maple syrup, butter
Greek style yogurt, strawberries

Does this sound like brain-food to you? It's a list of what I've been eating (top 6 things) in the past two weeks as I've been studying for my LSATs, which are this Saturday. I've barely had any time, or been in the mood, to cook elaborate, well-balanced meals. When I'm in full-on study mode, I hone in on pretty much a full carb diet. As most of us know, carbs increases the blood sugar levels, leading to increased serotonin levels in our brain, which makes us happy (!!), especially me in my time of stress and utter boredom.

Today I decided to break out of my monotonous food relationship and looked around my 'fridge for other possible lunch candidates. There was frozen paneer, and a bag of frozen peas in the freezer, and canned tomatoes and spices in my pantry. Half an hour later, I had myself a delicious healthy meal of mattar paneer and rice.

This is a dish that's quite common at all Indian restaurants. It's vegetarian and so so good with naan; but the version that I get at restaurants always comes with a heavy creamy sauce that is laden with calories. The traditional version, on the other hand, is just a basic spiced tomato base, in which fried cubes of paneer and peas stew.

Mattar Paneer
adapted from Saveur Magazine (along with my own recommendations)

2 Tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 cardamom pods
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 heaping tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 tsp fresh ginger paste
1 cup diced tomato, with juices
1 cup frozen peas
6-8 oz. paneer cheese, cubed and fried on all sides

1. Heat ghee in a skillet over low heat until melted. Add cumin, cardamom, and cinnamon. Stir until the fragrances are released, about 1 minute. Stir in the onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric and salt, and cook until the onion starts to become translucent.

2. Add the tomatoes, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes to let the tomatoes break down.

3. Add 1 cup of water and stew 5-10 more minutes to let it reduce. Add the garam masala, peas and paneer. Season with more salt or spices, if necessary. Cook until peas are well heated through.

4. Serve over rice.


roopa said...

My mommy makes the best mattar paneer. I wish I had some right

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