After our Indian Feast on New Year's Eve recently, I seem to have rediscovered my love of paneer - a soft and mild-tasting cottage cheese that is featured in many popular Indian dishes like saag paneer. If you have a well-stocked grocery store or an ethnic food shop in your local area, then you should be able to buy paneer to use in your own homemade Indian-inspired dishes, like this sandwich!
The recipe, which comes from British chef Anjum Anand, is modelled after a BLT sandwich. Of course, it's not quite the same as a BLT as it has paneer cheese instead of bacon (hence the name PLT), but I think this vegetarian version is much tastier anyway!
The basic components are slices of paneer that have been marinated in a spiced yogurt mixture, fresh tomato, lettuce, and (vegan) mayo. I decided to replace the lettuce with spinach, since spinach and paneer pair so well together, and I added some curry powder to the mayo spread to give it more flavour.
Even though it looks like a pretty simple sandwich, all of the spices and textures made it much more exciting than the name "PLT" implies! The paneer is broiled so that it has a chewy texture that reminded me a lot of firm tofu (actually, you could probably confuse the two if you didn't know it was paneer!).
I loved the mild Indian flavours that the paneer soaked up, and the curried mayo added a nice creamy and tangy element.
I made my sandwich with a thin sandwich bun, but you could also use toasted bread if you prefer a more traditional sandwich. The recipe makes enough for two sandwiches, but you could easily double the amount of paneer and keep it in the fridge to put together more "PLT"s throughout the week!
"PLT" (Paneer, Lettuce & Tomato) Sandwich
Adapted from Anjum's Indian Vegetarian Feast
For the paneer (makes enough for 2 sandwiches):
~150g paneer cheese, sliced into 1” thick slices (I cut two long slices, then cut each slice in half for 4 pieces)
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp each paprika, chili powder and cumin
1/4 tsp Indian curry paste (optional for more flavour)
1 tbsp + 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste
For each sandwich (double amounts if you are making two sandwiches):
Sandwich bun or 2 pieces of toasted bread
2 tsp vegan mayonnaise or regular mayo
1/4 tsp curry powder
1 tsp lemon juice
Half of the cooked paneer slices
Handful of spinach leaves, stems removed
2 slices of tomato, seasoned with salt and pepper
First, make the marinade for the paneer. In a bowl, whisk together the yogurt, ginger, garlic, spices, curry paste and lemon juice. Add a dash of salt. Coat the paneer slices in the marinade and let sit in a ziplock bag or a shallow bowl or container for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven broiler. When broiler is ready, transfer the paneer with marinade to a small baking dish and cook in the top half of the oven for 8-10 minutes. Flip paneer pieces and cook the other side for about 8 more minutes, until the edges are starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
To assemble sandwich, mix together the mayo, curry powder, and lemon juice until smooth. Spread mixture on the top side of your bread or bun. Lay some spinach on the bottom half, and place two pieces of paneer on top. Next, add the tomato slices and top with a bit more spinach. Close sandwich and serve immediately.
Makes enough for 2 sandwiches.