Deconstructed. The word makes me wince. Think of how many Deconstructed Somethings you’ve seen floating around Pinterest and Instagram. Many of them are designed to side-step technical difficulty (re: Sushi Bowls), which I don’t have a problem with. Not everyone has the deft hand or equipment required to recreate a favorite dish at home. No, what I have a problem with is the deconstructed dishes that act like they’re moving the ball forward. The ones that come with the snobbishness of supposed innovation. Ugh! Get over yo’self!
But deconstruction is not all bad. I do respect the attention one has to pay to all aspects of a single dish in order to deconstruct it. That’s the kind of food nerdishness that I can get behind. So, in that spirit, I put forth today’s Paneer Kofta Sliders with Baby Naan. Nothing groundbreaking here folks, just reinterpreting some greatest hits.
I called these babies Paneer Kofta Sliders for the sake of clarity. Many people are not intimately familiar with Indian cuisine, so I want to be cognizant of that. I chose to highlight the paneer because most people in North America are familiar with it. But the traditional name of this kind of vegetarian kofta is Malai Kofta. Typically prepared in Northern India, Malai Kofta is a dumpling made of potato and paneer simmered in a spicy tomato, cashew curry. It’s a staple on my Indian takeout order (shout out to Kothur Indian Cuisine) and definitely a dish more people should get to know and love.
Okay, so by now you must be wondering why I decided to f*ck with my beloved Malai Kofta. Well, the answer to that is the slider notion just kinda lodged itself in my brain. Paneer Kofta Sliders inexplicably sounded like a very good idea. Quite frankly, the thought totally shocked me. I’m just not a slider kind of girl.
I, like most of the Western world, am totally over sliders. They definitely enjoyed a burst of popularity around 2007-2008 and even then, I wasn’t entirely on board. Much like the mini chocolate bar, I considered sliders to be a dangerous prospect, primed for overindulgence. And, from a practical standpoint, the slider failed miserably it’s primary occupation: being a finger food.
For a while there you couldn’t walk into a cocktail party (something I do regularly because I’m soooo popular 😝) without someone offering you a slider. To this day, thinking about this scenario causes me anxiety. You don’t want to turn the slider down because the lady or dude is just trying to unload their catering tray, so they can retreat to the kitchen and possibly sneak off for a smoke. But you know the slider is going to fall apart and, like, you didn’t buy a sweet ass dress to get crap all over it. The slider, it’s just not black tie friendly.
But slider prejudices aside, I think the main reason I went with these Paneer Kofta Sliders is the baby naan. Tiny food is a bizarre fascination of mine and, given the popularity of Tiny Kitchen, I’m clearly not alone. These Paneer Kofta Sliders did not completely cure me of my slider aversion, but they did taste freaking delicious. Plus, I got to chow down on these messy morsels in the comfort of my own home.
When all is said and done, a slider really is just a tiny sandwich. And since I’m down with tiny foods and a good sammich it almost doesn’t make sense for me to hate the slider. We just got off on the wrong foot. My first slider should’ve been served to me in my sweat pants whilst binge-watching Netflix. We would’ve been fast friends in that context. Ah well! I suppose there’s still time for the slider and I.
Deconstructing a traditional dish and slamming it between tiny naan is almost embarassingly derivative. These Paneer Kofta Sliders are like something you’d find on the menu of a “adventurous” sport’s bar. But, you know, food doesn’t have to be groundbreaking all the time. And it certainly doesn’t have to be traditional all the time. The only thing food must be at all times is fun!
Enjoy these, food nerds!
Paneer Kofta Sliders with Baby Naan
- 6 cups whole milk
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 2 1/4 teaspoon dry active yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup Balkan yogurt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 batch paneer crumbled.
- 1 large russet potato peeled, boiled and mashed
- 4 bird's eye chilies thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro coarsely chopped
- 3/4 cup unsalted cashews finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons garam marsala
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup corn flour
- /12 cup canola oil
Tomato Cashew Curry
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium cooking onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1-inch knob fresh ginger, minced
- 1 tablespoon garam marsala
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 can crushed tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons demerara sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 can full fat coconut milk
- 1 cup unsalted cashews
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro finely chopped
- 4 bird's eye chilies thinly sliced
- Fresh cilantro
- Balkan yogurt
- Cucumber sliced
- Pea Shoots
For the Paneer
- Pour the milk into a large pot and place over medium heat. Heat the milk to roughly 200F or until on the verge of boiling. Immediately remove the milk from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. The milk will start to curdle. Cover and let the milk sit for ten minutes.
- Line a fine mesh strainer with a large piece of cheesecloth. Place the strainer over a large heat-proof bowl. Pour the contents of the pot into the strainer. Discard the liquid.
- Wrap the cheesecloth around the solids to form a bundle. Squeeze the excess moisture from the solids and place the bundle on a cutting board. Place a cookie sheet on top of the bundle and weigh it down with a large can of tomatoes or something of equal weight.
- Press the paneer for 1 hour, then unwrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Baby Naan
- Pour the water into a large stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Sprinkled the yeast and sugar into the water and let sit for 5 minutes or until foamy.
- Stir the salt, yogurt, and olive oil into the yeast mixture.
- Set the mixer to its lowest setting and add 1 cup of the flour to the wet ingredients. Mix until well-integrated. Add the remaining flour in 1/4 cup increments until a sticky dough forms.
- Place the dough on a floured surface and knead briefly until the dough feels silky.
- Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for an hour and a half or until doubled in size.
- Punch the dough down and place on a floured surface. Roll to dough into a long, thin snake. Divide the dough into 20-24 even pieces. Roll the pieces into balls.
- Using a floured rolling pin, roll the balls into discs roughly 2 1/2 - 3-inches in diameter.
- Heat a quarter-sized amount of oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until smoking.
- Place 5-7 naans in the skillet and cook until puffed, then flip and cook until slightly blistered. Transfer the naan to a cooling rack. Continue until all the naan is cooked.
- Set the naan aside until ready to use.
For the Kofta
- Place paneer, mashed potato, chilies, cilantro, cashews, garam marsala, turmeric, coriander seed and salt in a large bowl. Using clean hands, mix the ingredients until well integrated.
- Form the mixture into 10-12 balls and set aside to chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Pour the corn flour onto a small plate. Roll each ball in the flour to coat. Press the coated kofta into discs using the heel of your hand.
- Heat the canola oil over medium heat in a large cast iron skillet until shimmering. Working in batches, fry the kofta until deep amber on both sides. About 2-3 minutes a side.
- Transfer the kofta to a plate lined with paper towel. Keep warm until ready to use.
For the Curry
- While the kofta is chilling, make the curry.
- Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet until shimmering. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Saute until softened and lightly browned. About 7 minutes.
- Add the garlic and ginger to the onions and saute briefly. About 3 minutes.
- Stir in the garam marsala, coriander, turmeric, and cumin and saute for 5 minutes more.
- Add the tomatoes, salt and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer and cook until reduced slightly. About 10 minutes.
- Pour in the coconut milk and the cashews. Bring the mixture back up to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Leave the curry to cook for 15-20 minutes.
- Remove the curry from the heat and, using an immersion blender, puree the curry. I left mine slightly chunky.
- Stir in the heavy cream, cilantro, and chilies. Keep warm until ready to serve.
- Place a kofta on top of a baby naan and cover with a large spoonful of curry. Top the curry with a dollop of yogurt, cucumber slices, fresh cilantro, and pea shoots. Cover with another baby naan.
- Serve immediately with a bottle of Kingfisher.