They say boys are simple and girls are complicated. And, they may be right. But since I’ve admitted I’m a bit of a child, I also therefore think am pretty simple. I will rarely go hysterical on you if you come a half hour late for lunch or cancel altogether.
In food however, I just can’t seem to apply the same simplicity. Maybe, because I come from India and we believe in layer upon layer of spices and ingredients. Till, their is virtually an explosion in our mouths. Give an Indian any less and you may have a problem on your hands!
Now, this is where my bruschetta comes in. Traditional bruschetta is gorgeous to say the least, but my Indian palette craves more.
My take is not hugely different from the traditional form and uses paneer in place of perhaps mozarella. The difference, I fried my freshly made paneer with cumin seeds. And, just like any Indian dish (with all its thousand spices), my bruschetta has first a layer of cumin paneer, then a fat layer of the spicy mint-cilantro chutney, and then the vinegary cherry tomatoes to top it all.
Paneer is very simple to make, but if you don’t want to bother, you can easily get it from an Indian store in your neighborhood.
for the paneer
4 cups whole milk
juice from half a lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsps cumin seeds
Heat the milk in a non stick pan on medium heat. Stir continuously so as not to let the milk burn. Once the milk comes to a boil, lower the heat to low and add the lemon juice. You will immediately see the milk separate. If it doesn’t happen add more lemon juice. Pour into a colander lined and ready with muslin cloth.
Let drain for ten minutes and then wash under cold water a little so that the lemon juice disappears a little. Squeeze extra water out.It’s as simple as that!
In another pan, add the olive oil and cumin. You can either flatten the paneer in your palm and form a loose patty or crumble into the pan once the cumin starts to sputter. Fry your paneer for a minute or so on each side or 5 minutes in total. Let cool and set aside for later.
for the mint-cilantro chutney
1 cup packed cilantro leaves
1 cup packed mint leaves
1/4 red onion
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dessicated coconut
2 green chillies (add more if you like it really spicy!)
2 cloves garlic
a handful of unsalted peanuts
salt and pepper to taste
Put all ingredients in a blender and mix till you get a rough paste. Don’t over-mix, you don’t want it to be too smooth. Your chutney is ready…
for the tomato, basil mix
200 grams cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsps white wine vinegar
1 tsp white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
rock salt, to taste
pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh basil
Add all ingredients except the tomatoes and basil leaves in a deep bowl and mix well. Now lets get down and dirty! Take the tomatoes, throw them in the bowl and pop them with your fingers. No knives to be used here!
Last, roughly break you basil leaves and toss all ingredients using your hands. It feels fantastic…
Cut your french bread or any bread of your choice. First add the cumin paneer, then a thick layer of the spicy mint chutney and last arrange your tomato basil mix on top of the other 2 layers.
Let sit for 10-15 minutes so that the bread drenches in all the flavors. Serve with a chilled glass of dry white!