Paneer Tikka – The Wow Punjabi Appetizer
Do you know paneer tikka has a Wikipedia entry? What all would have the McDonald’s management team gone through before deciding that it is critical for them to have a Paneer Tikka Wrap on their Indian menu to begin with? Why would Pizza Hut go ahead and use Paneer Tikka and create a Paneer Tikka Pizza? The reason is simple, once out of the tandoor the paneer tikka is simply irresistible. The very sight of it being removed from a skewer is mouth watering. Many of us just don’t wait for the Naans to come out and polish the Paneer Tikka without anything on the side. Over the last decade or so, this humble Punjabi appetizer has become a dish which giant MNC’s of the global food business cannot afford to ignore.
Paneer tikaa’s popularity has led to it becoming part of many dishes. Today the name paneer tikka is prefixed and suffixed with numerous words. Amongst dishes with prefixes, the Zafrani Paneer Tikka has started commanding the coveted position of a main dish on a formal dining table. Paneer Tikka Masala where masala is a suffix to paneer tikka, is giving Shahi Paneer a run for its money. No kabab platters today are complete without paneer tikka finding a place on them.
Paneer tikka is not paneer on a skewer, shoved in a tandoor and taken out in 10 minutes. There is a lot which goes into making a good paneer tikka. To begin with, there has to be good quality Cottage cheese, which should be marinated with a great marinade for ½ to 1 hour, prepared with the choicest spices and herbs. The trick is that the flavor of the spices and the herbs must get as deep inside the cheese cubes as possible. Many people say that you don’t even need a tandoor to make a paneer tikka, I find that ridiculous, without the tandoor the flavour just doesn’t enter the paneer. Marinating paneer before grilling it becomes all the more important when the paneer tikka is becoming part of a dish like a burger, a pizza, a kathi roll or a biryani. The reason being that the dish is going to derive its flavor from the paneer tikka and not the other way round.
Next time when you set up a barbeque make sure paneer tikka is on top of your priority. Enjoy!