Thursday, May 2, 2013

Monkfish Tikka & Paneer Kebabs with Gobi Mattar

A unique, firm-textured and meaty white fish, Monkfish is low in calories, fat and carbs, and a good source of lean protein. The tail meat of the fish is delicious: dense, sweet, and very similar to lobster tail meat in both flavour and texture. This low-fat recipe for Monkfish Tikka is an easy and healthy alternative to the Indian classic, Chicken Tikka, which is probably the most common and popular marinades used in Indian cooking. The word 'tikka' means cut into small pieces, and Monkfish is one of the few fish that's firm enough to hold up on the grill and partners magnificently with this lusty and immensely flavourful sauce. An aromatic combination of lemon juice, ginger, garlic, turmeric, cumin, ground coriander, chilli powder, paprika, garam masala and yogurt, the marinade is simple to make but for best results, the fish should be marinated for at least a few hours, or even overnight. The yogurt helps tenderize the chicken; the garlic, ginger, and spices in the marinade infuse it with lots of flavour. The result is tender, succulent and bloody delicious.

The brilliant orange tikka marinade of yogurt and spices

Monkfish, which is similar to lobster in both texture and flavour, 
stands up brilliantly with the tikka marinade

The fish is cut into smaller pieces

The monkfish is added to the marinade and chilled for a few hours

Whenever I make Fish or Chicken Tikka, I always prepare additional marinade for skewers of paneer, a fresh firm Indian cheese made with whole milk. Paneer is the main vegetarian protein eaten in India and it is a perfect foil for Indian flavours. Cut into small bite-size cubes, the cheese is tossed in the marinade and then threaded onto skewers for easy grilling on the barbecue. Succulent, soft and mildly spicy, the paneer takes minutes to cook and grills to crispy golden perfection, especially when basted with melted ghee.

Paneer is delicious with this marinade and grills beautifully on the barbecue, 
especially when brushed with melted ghee

Another delicious side dish to serve with Monkfish Tikka and Paneer Tikka Kebabs is Gobi Mattar, an Indian vegetable preparation of cauliflower and peas. Stir fried with mustard seeds, asafoetida, kari leaves and turmeric, Gobi Mattar is a low-carb potato-free version of Aloo Gobi, and can be cooked while the monkfish and paneer are grilling. Accompanied with some crunchy papadam and a bowl of zesty Indian lime pickle, it's a scrumpdillyicious low-fat feast!

Half a head of cauliflower is broken up into smaller florets

Mustard seeds 


Fresh aromatic Kari leaves

Once the mustard seeds and kari leaves have been sautéed quickly in some oil, 
the cauliflower is added with turmeric

A cup of water is added to the cauliflower mixture, then covered and allowed to cook 
for about 15 minutes - towards the end, the peas are added

The final dish is Gobi Mattar - cauliflower and peas - a low carb version of Aloo Gobi 
which is sautéed with potato

The Paneer Tikka becomes crisp and golden on the barbecue, 
with a little help the melted ghee

At 30 calories each, papadam are a tasty low-cal alternative to Naan, 
especially when puffed up in the microwave and not pan-fried in oil

Monkfish Tikka

Monkfish Tikka Masala
Serves 2

1 large monkfish tail, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 tbsp melted butter or ghee
lemon wedges, for garnish
1 tbsp chopped cilantro or chives, for garnish

1 tbsp gram flour
2 tbsp plain yogurt
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp each turmeric, cumin, ground coriander, chilli powder and paprika
2 tsp ginger paste
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp salt

Mix all of the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl, stirring well to combine. Place the monkfish into the marinade and rub well to coat each of the pieces. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Bring back to room temperature before grilling.

Preheat an outdoor barbecue to medium-high. Remove the fish from the marinade and space evenly on the grill. Basting frequently with the melted butter, cook the monkfish for about 3-4 minutes per side, until each of the pieces are cooked though and have become a lovely golden brown colour. 

Serve immediately with a garnish of chopped cilantro or chives and sliced lemon. This would be delicious served with some Coriander Mint Chutney, Gobi Mattar and papadam.

Gobi Mattar - Indian Cauliflower & Peas
Serves 2-4

1/2 cauliflower
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/8 tsp asafoetida 
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp kari leaves
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tbsp chopped chives, for garnish

Separate the cauliflower into small florets, about 1 to 2-inches. Warm the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, add the asafoetida, then a second later, add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the kari leaves and stir to combine. Then add the cauliflower, turmeric and some salt to taste. Cook for 5 or 6 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the cauliflower is well coated with the spices and begins to brown slightly. Add 1/2 cup of water, and as soon as it starts to bubble, add the peas, cover the pan and turn down the heat to med-low. Cook 10-15 minutes more until the cauliflower is soft and cooked through. Sprinkle with some chives or cilantro leaves and serve.

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