You’ve probably noticed that we love global cuisine. Sure, we were a bit adventurous in Oaxaca, Mexico with the grasshoppers and that home cookin’ in Laos, but otherwise I’m rarely disappointed when it comes to global cuisine. It’s easy to pick up delicious street food on the road, but now that we’re home I’m determined to make it at home. I’ll admit I’m baffled by the food labeling here in the U.S., my method is to buy things that have ingredients I can pronounce. Even if it’s in a different language.
But then there I was in an Indian Grocery Store staring at packages labeled all sort of things. I’ll be honest we didn’t know what we were eating most of the time in India. Our strategy was just to order the thali platter. Every time we did we literally licked the platter clean. Not so difficult now is it?
So there I stood in the Indian grocery store. My plan was to buy the spice packets, try the dishes out and then buy the appropriate spices to make my own mixes for the dishes we liked. The only thing was I was baffled by the vocabulary on the packets. Sure I knew common ingredients like daal, paneer and aloo, but beyond that I was clueless. Standing looking utterly clueless, I decide to wait for someone to walk up. A fool proof strategy for sure as a woman took pity on me and pointed out her favorites and things she thought I would like. With my basket full of various spice mixes and the biggest bag of dried chickpeas I had ever seen (2lbs, almost 1kg!) I checked out and headed home.
Honestly it took me a few days to work up the courage to tackle Indian food, despite the fact that I had “easy” spicy packets. It’s intimidating and oh, did I forget to mention that the Indian grocer was out of paneer and had suggested I buy “grilling cheese” from my local grocery store.
Yup, grilling cheese.
Sometimes you just have to go for it, so I went to my local supermarket and asked for “grilling cheese.”
They knew exactly what I wanted. Thank god because I didn’t.
I’ve never even heard of grilling cheese…in English. In Spanish it’s called queso blanco (white cheese) and it’s a perfect substitute for paneer because it becomes soft and creamy, but doesn’t completely melt. So hurray for the melting pot that is South Florida, where Mexican cheese can substitute for paneer. (This is apparently widely known, if you check out the wikipedia page for paneer it’s listed there as a substitute).
So my Mexi-Indian adventures in the kitchen began. And you know what? It was good. Like really, really good. Like finger licking nothing in the bowl left good. Well nothing left on the plate. As is typical, the recipes made enough for a family of five, and there being only two of us we had some yummy leftovers the next morning. The leftover matter paneer didn’t last until dinner the next day though. That darn food mouse…
Want to know more about the food we ate traveling around the world? Check out the archives of our Foodie Friday feature!