Savory Barbecued Cheese
Want a nicely exotic grilled dish? How about Indian barbecued cheese?
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
At first glance, barbecued cheese seems decidedly weird; and sure, I'll admit that it's a bit beyond the pale. Oh, most of us have had grilled cheese, in a sense -- on a sandwich. But this isn't quite the same thing.
That said, throwing cheese on the barbie is just a slight advancement over something many of us have tried: smoked cheese. Well, imagine that heady wood-smoke flavor sealed in with an exotic retinue of herbs and spices... yum.
A Choice of Cheeses
First, decide which type of cheese to barbecue. As with grilling tofu, solidity is most important. Limburger or cottage cheese isn't going to do it, and I don't recommend American. You need something that won't melt away after seconds on the flame, so Velveeta's out.
I prefer cheddar myself, the sharper the better. In Pakistan and Indian food traditions, a soft white cheese called paneer is often used. Some folks call it Indian cottage cheese, but it's much more solid than traditional cottage cheese; plus, it cooks up nicely, becoming crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
Other people swear by halloumi, a firm white Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cheese made from sheep or goat milk. To each his own.
Grilling the Cheese
If you like things straightforward and prefer to taste the cooked cheese itself, just slice it up and coat it in olive oil. A spritz of lemon juice is always good, too. Some folks then fry it on the grill in a skillet, but I prefer to actually cook it on the grill. In that case, it's best if you slide the slices onto skewers first.
If you want a more complex recipe, try this one:
½ pound of your favorite cheese
One ounce of fresh red pepper
One ounce of fresh ginger
One ounce of pureed mint leaves
3 garlic cloves
1 green chili pepper
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
2 teaspoons of corn flour
2 teaspoons of cooking oil
½ cup of plain yogurt
Chat masala to taste
Ground mint to taste
Grate the peppers, ginger, and garlic and mix them into the yogurt, along with the mint paste, flour, salt, and pepper. Whip thoroughly for about eight minutes, until you have a thick green paste. Next, slice the cheese into cubes and poke holes in them with a toothpick.
Marinate the cheese cubes in the green goo for at least 5-6 hours; overnight is good. Then thread them onto skewers and grill them on a hot grill (about 500° F, if you were wondering) for no more than 20 minutes, and preferably less. Garnish your barbecued cheese with ground mint and chat masala, and enjoy!