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Recipes & Food Styling | Paneer Kathi roll and paneer pumpkin curry – A goal without a plan is just a wish

22 August 2015 One Comment

healthy cottage cheese curry and paneer kathi roll

A goal without a plan is just a wish” ~ Antoine

Among so many other things in life, ‘pre-planning’ is one another important life-lesson I learnt from my mom.

Her day would not end peacefully until all the things in her kitchen is organized for the next day. She would continue murmuring her task list and keep moving in and out of kitchen…God knows for how many times, before hitting the bed everyday.

She would hurriedly knead the chapatti (flat bread) dough to refrigerate, select the lentil (daal) and vegetables to be cooked, check her stored bottles of homemade tomato puree and ground ginger-garlic paste stacked in fridge, keep the empty vessel (pateela) on dinning table for milkman and quickly choose a saree to be worn the next day to her office.

Back then, this daily ritual of hers sounded absurd to me but I realized soon that pre-planning is an importance tool in managing today’s stressful life.

Whether it is for a outdoor photo-shoot or for planning weekly meals for my family, it probably is the most powerful tool in my kitty which has made my life simpler and does keep me on track.

Planning and prioritizing my work ahead of time helps me get the most out of every hour of the day.

Pre-planning works for me and I hardly remember waking up without a plan except when I am tired after a shoot or it is a relaxed weekend trip with family, away from home.

Hmm..well, I sketch out a rough plan for next day from the comforts of my bed, just before I go into sleep mode. What are the recipes to be packed for lunch for children & hubby..zip loc bags filled with sliced fruits and steamed vegetables…dinner menu…any outdoor tasks…and so on. It does help make me feel stress-free and face the day with a big smile.

And I follow the same to organize myself for an outdoor shoot also. I keep two baskets ready during the night before the shoot and try to visualize the entire shoot, frame by frame. First shot is about xyz and the ingredients and other things that goes into styling the same…spices, earthenware props, drops of glycerin…and keep stacking things in the basket.

There was one interesting television commercial I did recently for a dairy milk product Indian company, Aroma. The shoot was divided into two days, one exclusively for television commercial at outdoor location and the other was product shoot in a studio.

I met the director of Orange Tree to discuss each shot, who wanted to shoot wobbly curd in one of the shots, curd which should not break while shooting and wanted me to try out various options.

I tried many option at home and figured out a perfect formula to set around 30 cups of curd for the fist day of shoot.

The day started as early as 5.30 am in morning with cooking and packing breakfast and lunch for children and hubby.

Cab arrived at 6.30 and I left for the shoot in the outskirts of Chennai. Morning travel made me relax a bit before starting off to the hectic day of shoot.

Recipes & Food Styling | Paneer Kathi roll and paneer pumpkin curry

The location this time was a pretty beach house in the outskirts of city.

Recipes & Food Styling | Paneer Kathi roll and paneer pumpkin curry

And the boards are painted to give the perfect colour co-ordination….oh yes, you need these king sized background boards for television shoots…very unlike the tiny boards I use for my food photography at home 🙂

Recipes & Food Styling | Paneer Kathi roll and paneer pumpkin curry

I lost count of the number of paneer cubes I diced that day for the shoot.

Recipes & Food Styling | Paneer Kathi roll and paneer pumpkin curry

All the dishes that I cooked for the commercial is done for the day…shot, dried and discarded.

healthy vegetarian recipes

These tiny cups and earthenware pots filled with specially set curt for the shoot filled the entire space of my refrigerator for a couple of days.

Recipes & Food Styling | Paneer Kathi roll and paneer pumpkin curry

The hero of the shoot..one of the nth cup of the wobbly curd I set at home…it sat perfectly on Hansika’s (a popular Indian actress) hand after many trials.

Recipes & Food Styling | Paneer Kathi roll and paneer pumpkin curry

This was the product shoot which happened after a few days of television commercial shoot in a studio.

It was wonderful to work again with Goldwin whose enthusiasm and hard work for each action shots can’t be explained in words. The paneer cubes falling in the gravy I cooked at the studio.

Recipes & Food Styling | Paneer Kathi roll and paneer pumpkin curry

Setting the wobbly curd for the shot…I set around 50 cups of wobbly curds at home and took to the location for shoot.
Recipes & Food Styling | Paneer Kathi roll and paneer pumpkin curry

Oh..yes, in between the hustle and bustle of the shoot there is always time to meet and talk with various artists working for the commercial. It was nice talking with actress Hansika and other artists working at the set.

The shoot ended quite late in night and I reached home around 11.30 pm.

1.  Cottage Cheese in Pumpkin Gravy

Well, after shooting loads and loads of cottage cheese for days, how can I not share a few of my favorite paneer recipes I made with the leftover samples at home.

I love cooking my simple meal which mostly comprise of vegetable curries, lentils and flat breads. I love the fact that there is no set recipes to follow and cook these Indian dishes.

Recipes & Food Styling | Paneer Kathi roll and paneer pumpkin curry


(serve 3)

  • 200 gms cottage cheese or Paneer
  • 200 gms pumpkin
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 green capsicum
  • 4-5 garlic pearls
  • 1 small ginger piece
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1 tsp. red chilly powder
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • Dried fenugreek leaves (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • Water as required

cottage cheese or paneer, kadai paneer recipe

Here is how you can make homemade cottage cheese at home – Homemade Cottage Cheese.

Method; Peel pumpkin and onion and roughly slice into small pieces.

Dice the capsicum into small cubes.

Heat one tablespoon oil in a wok and add sliced pumpkin, add onion into it and cook for 4-5 minutes.

Crush the garlic pearls and ginger with a kitchen stone.

Cool the cooked pumpkin and onion slightly and make a puree in a blender adding a little water if required.

Heat rest of the oil in the same wok and crackle cumin seeds in it.

Add crushed garlic and ginger, coriander powder, red chilly powder and capsicum cubes in it and sauté for a minute.

Add pumpkin-onion puree, salt and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes.

Add cottage cheese or paneer cubes in the pumpkin gravy, cover the lid and continue to simmer for another 4-5 minutes on medium heat. Add about half a cup of water at this stage to get a runny gravy.

Sprinkle chopped coriander leaves or dried Kasuri Methi and lemon juice and put off the flame.

Serve this delicious Cottage cheese or Paneer in pumpkin gravy with plain rice or any Indian flat bread.

2. Cottage Cheese Kathi Rolls aka Paneer Kathi roll

Recipes & Food Styling | Paneer Kathi roll and paneer pumpkin curry

For the Wraps

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • Water as required

Cottage cheese filling;

  • 200 gms. cottage cheese
  • 1 tbsp thick yogurt
  • 1 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 onion
  • 1 capsicum
  • 1 tsp. ginger julienne
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. kasuri mehti
  • 1 tsp. garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp red chilly powder
  • Few Mint and coriander leaves
  • Salt to taste

Method; Knead a soft dough with wholewheat and water, roll out large thin rotis or flat breads and dry roast on a griddle to cook.

Dice the cottage cheese into small cubes and place in a bowl. Add salt, yogurt, red chilly powder and garam masala in it, combine well and leave it to marinate till you assemble all other ingredients for the recipe.

Peel and finely slice the onion.

De-seed the capsicum and roughly chop into small pieces.

Heat a griddle and add marinated paneer cubes in it. Drizzle oil in it and sauté for 2-3 minutes on medium to high heat till the paneer cubes turn light brown in colour.

Add sliced onion, ginger julienne and capsicum in it and take the griddle off flame. Do not let the onion and capsicum cook over heat and loose the crunch in it.

Add tomato sauce, slightly crushed dried Kasuri methi, finely chopped mint and coriander leaves and lemon juice in the cooked paneer dish and combine well.

Kathi rolls; Take a cooked roti wrap and place about two tablespoons of prepared cottage cheese filling in the center. Fold the sides to make a closed wrap and serve it with any chutney or tomato sauce.


  1. You can also use green chutney or spread with mint and coriander leaves for the kathi rolls. Spread the chutney before filling in the cottage cheese and then roll the wrap.
  2. Use tortillas to make the Kathi rolls.
  3. Substitute tofu with paneer in the first recipe.
  4. These Kathi rolls will become soggy after a few hours. Use less water to make paneer curry for filling if you wish the rolls to remain crisp for long.
  5. Add a little more filling of thinly sliced raw onion, capsicum and red cabbage for extra crunch and bit in the Kathi rolls.

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One Comment »

  • Deepa said:

    Way to go Sanjeeta. As you rightly said, vision without plan is just a wish. Also paneer curry looks simply awesome.

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