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Tandoor-Roasted Pineapple Paneer Peppers Onion Salad

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A spectacular warm salad from London Michelin-starred Tamarind restaurant. With some inside help and after a few disasters, I managed to make it at home!

The Michelin guide doesn't bestow its stars easily to oriental restaurants, especially in perfidious Albion. So for Tamarind restaurant in Mayfair to receive and keep its Michelin star for decades, means the food is seriously good. Despite its hotel basement location, it is my favorite Indian restaurant. They send a team to Geneva's Hôtel d'Angleterre once a year but the food is just not the same. They miss the tandoor.

My favorite dish at Tamarind is an amazing salad of freshly tandoor-roasted, marinated fresh pineapple, peppers, onions and paneer. I tried to make this dish at home as soon as I got my tandoor, but the results were disappointing.

So the other day I called Tamarind, explained my predicament and asked to speak to the chef. A very knowledgeable and helpful man! Here is what he told me and how, after another tandoor disaster, I finally made it.

 

Tandoor Pineapple Vegetable Salad
for 8 as a starter
2 fresh pineapples
6 bell peppers
12-15 sweet red onions
5 dl (1 cup) yogurt
dry fenugreek leaves
kashimiri chili powder
chaat masala
2 lemons
coriander leaves

Buy dry fenugreek leaves, called mehti leaves in Indian stores. Mix then with Kashmiri chili, the intensely red mild chili used to color tandoori food naturally. It is not hot at all so you may want to add some hot chili powder.

Reduce to a powder and mix with yogurt. Your marinade is ready.

I made my own paneer that day and after some pan roasting, carefully placed it with some of the marinade in a freezer bag.

Peel and slice a pineapple, keeping the core. Peel red onions and cut them in half. Cut bell peppers in 4 lengthwise.

Marinate everything in the yogurt for one hour. I've been using freezer bags for marinations for years now. This is the best option - takes less space in your fridge and lets you massage the marinade into the food while keeping the kitchen clean.

Indian chefs call the meter long skewers used in tandoor ovens seekhs. Skewer the vegetable with one type by seekhs so you can pull them out when done. I use little aluminium foil balls between the pineapple and rotisserie pitchforks to prevent any sliding. I'm throughwith potatoes and raw onions stuck at the bottom of each seekh, this is too much waste and unreliable.

Roast the vegetable type by type 7-12 minutes in a medium-hot tandoor. Wait until there is some coloring and the edges become dark brown to black.

The onion seekh is ready.

The piping hot bell peppers. Don't worry about the black patches, this is desirable in tandoor cooking and vegetables burnt on the sides are not carcinogenic. Only burnt fat is.

Roasting homemade fresh cheese skewered vertically in a 400°F hot oven is not risk-free. The first time I tried with feta cheese and and it all ended up in a fire in the tandoor's belly. The second time only two pieces out of six fell down. I managed to remove one with a bread seekh, lifting three stones glued to the cheese in the process. As you can see above, this time it worked fine for the four pieces that stayed with us.

 

Finally the pineapple, gloriously juicy inside yet spicy and crunchy outside.

Chop everything in bite-sized cubes sprinkle with chaat masala (Indian store) and some lemon juice and coriander leaves. Serve hot with naan.

I think you could do this recipe with long skewers in a really, really hot regular oven. It wouldn't work if you lay the vegetables and fruits in a dish as their juice would reduce the temperature.

 

If you visit London, I warmly recommend you visit this astonishing Indian restaurant. Tamarind is considered by Indians themselves as one of the best places in England to eat high quality Indian food.

Tamarind
www.tamarindrestaurant.com
20 Queen Street
Mayfair
London W1J 5PRT
+44 (0)20 7629 3561


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10 Comments

  • #1
  • Comment by Antje Klees
Dear FX, I really like your beautiful site and I am very happy that I stumbled on it a few days ago... Getting all the ingredients together, especially for the roasted fruit salad, is another topic – guess I am going to produce my own paneer first!
  • #2
  • Comment by Julie-Andree Pellerin
Wow,it is the middle of the night and I finally find a passionate.  I really like your descriptions and experiences, a real epicurian.  I will try many of your ticks.  I was printing pictures on the computer for my 4 year old son, and needed to print a watermelon picture...when I saw the ultimate new combination...curry watermelon, sounds good. hope to receive your updated recipes. Julie-Andree Bahamas (from Montreal)
  • #3
  • Answered by fx
Thank you Julie-Andree, I am glad you like my blog! Do you cook conch in the Bahamas? You certainly get better fish than we do here!
Cheers
  • #4
  • Comment by taz
Delicious-looking roasted paneer!
  • #5
  • Comment by Rashid Omer
FANTASTIC WEBSITE. PLEASE ADD MORE INDIAN RECEIPES
  • #6
  • Answered by fx
Rashid, thanks for visiting! On Friday you'll have a chutney recipe.
  • #7
  • Comment by JVS
Hi, I love your site! I found it when looking for information about an onion side/condiment that I have had served with fish pakora.
It is thinly sliced onions possibly marinated in something that turns them a light pinkish color. I have tried wine vinegar, but it wasn't right. Have you come across this? If so do you know what it is?  Any light you can shed on it would be most appreciated.
Thanks, Joyce
  • #8
  • Answered by fx
JVS, I am not familiar with this problem of onions turning pink, but you might find precise answers in the book On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee. Have fun!
  • #9
  • Comment by ANJANI
TANDOORI PINEAPPLE IS NOT GOOD FOR TEST.
  • FX's answer→ But it is very good for eating!




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