1teaspoonsaltor to taste as chaat masala already has it.
Roast besan until light brown, keep aside.
Cut peppers, onions, and paneer into approx. 1” – 1.5” cubes. The thickness of paneer should be at least ½”
Warm-up mustard oil until hot and switch off the flame.
Let it cool down.
Then add in the cream and lemon juice to it and keep aside.
Add everything called for the marinade in a big bowl.
Add in the oil cream mixture and whisk everything well.
Taste the marinade. It should be concentrated and a bit high on spices and salt as it will balance out once it gets coated.
Now add in the cubed peppers, onions, and paneer.
Mix everything well with your hands or a spoon. Make sure everything is coated well with the mixture.
Make sure to be gentle, to avoid the paneer breaking.
Let the marinade sit covered in the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days for the flavors to meddle.
Time to bake the tikkas
If you are using wooden skewers, you will have to soak them completely submerged in water in a pan before baking for at least 1 hour. This will reduce any burning of the skewers.
I like to use metal ones. No soaking is needed for them.
Preheat the oven to 480 degrees F
Place a foil on a baking tray and grease it with oil.
Now arrange the paneer and veggies on the skewers by alternating them.
You can do 2 onion petals, followed by 2 peppers, and then one paneer cube.
Arrange all the skewers. Brush them with some melted butter or oil so that they remain moist even after baking.
Bake them on the pan for about 4 minutes and then turn once.
Bake again for 4-5 minutes.
Now switch on the broil to high i.e the upper heating element of the oven.
Place the skewers-filled tray on the topmost rack to get them a bit charred exactly like the tandoor one.
Let it cook for 1-2 minutes. Please keep an eye as they will start getting crisp around the 30-second mark in small ovens.
No need to turn it, you may do it if you want it charred on all sides.
Once you are happy with how they look, carefully pull the tray out.
The skewers will be very hot, so use a kitchen cloth to hold the end of the skewers.
Next, gently slide the tikkas onto a plate by sliding it into a knife as shown in the video.
Taste one, and if you feel it needs more salt or lemon then now is the time to sprinkle some on the top and serve immediately.
Serve it with this yogurt cilantro chutney on the side.
Closest possible substitutes
Swap the masalas called for marination with 2 tablespoons readymade tandoori masala. Adjust salt and lemon to taste.
Substitute green bell peppers with any other color you want.
Swap mustard oil for cooking oil of choice.
Use 1 tablespoon extra yogurt instead of cream.
Expert tips to consider
Use firmer paneer to avoid breakage. I recommend Nanak, Gopi or Verka in the USA.
Marinate the paneer at least for 2 hours for it to soak the masalas.
Use store-bought yogurt or homemade hung curd (i.e most of the liquid drained) for the best results.
Do not bake the skewers for more than 10 minutes. Longer baking can turn them dry, chewy, and rubbery.
Keep an eye on the tray while broiling as it can burn quickly.
Paneer tikka on the Tawa or a skillet.If you do not have an oven or are too intimidated to use it, simply make this starter on a Tawa, pan, or skillet. You can do it in 2 ways-With skewers -Without skewers- Simple grease the Tawa generously with oil. Keep it on high heat. Lay down the marinated veggies and paneer in a single layer. Cook for 2 minutes on really high flame and then flip them to cook the other side until golden brown.Recommended paneer to use for skewersDo not use soft paneer to make this appetizer or else the paneer will tend to break while putting it in the skewers. If you reside in the United States, I recommend you to use Nanak, Gopi, or Verka paneer. These are firmer ones that work great for kababs. Alternative to the spice list –I know it’s a long list of Indian spices here added to make the marinade. If you are not of Indian origin or if you do not have access to these spices you can improvise by using store-bought tandoori masala.It is readily available in the Indian stores in the spices aisle. Use 2 tablespoons of masala for this recipe. Taste the marinade and add more if needed. Add kasoori methi as well.Make this recipe ahead of time.
You can chop the veggies and paneer up to 3 days in advance and store them in the fridge.
Yogurt and spice marinade can be made up to 2 days in advance.
The veggies and paneer can be marinated and stored covered in the fridge up to 2 days before baking.
You can arrange everything in the skewers and keep them ready to go in the oven up to 2 days in advance.
Credits - Special thanks to my friend Manisha Joshi to help me put up this recipe and the video!