The impetus for all of this was interest in the butternut pakoras. They were initially planned pared with just the tomato rassam, but at the time, the proprietor at the near source for tamarind looked back with peculiarity on inquiry. That is, they apparently no longer stock any tamarind, so – a dal was substituted in the plans but not with any enthusiasm.
The squash consequently languished for several weeks, until the no-longer-little-guy was invited to a party not far from our favorite South-Asian grocer. Any visit more or less mandates some papri, or, papdi chaat – so, yogurt, too, and chutneys. And paneer managed to finagle its way into the cart, which, everyone agrees is best matched with spinach – but that is so redundant. Chilli paneer seemed like a great alternative but was deep-sixed by those with tender palates, and instead, the shahi paneer got the nod.
The gravy for the shahi paneer is a slightly sweet and quite rich. It is delicious, but not a great match with the rassam – they should be kept apart and eaten consecutively. A softer paneer would also be best.
The pakoras were as good as anticipated and the recipe is extremely simple: Shred the squash and mix everything together. The entirety of a good-sized squash is needed to offset the amount of flour in this recipe; the spices could be increased significantly.
The veggie kadai was a last minute addition as we decided to invite others over, as the meal grew. This is unquestionably a new favorite – right up there with that palak paneer and the irresistible lauki kofta. It, too, was a bit rich, but not excessively, and the flavors were outstanding.
The tomato rassam was not as good as hoped. Pepper rassam is a personal favorite, but the pungency and spice turn off most others; it was hoped this would be similar to those shared in restaurants, which were not disliked. They likely tone down the tamarind further and probably add more sugar. With a little, ahem, tamarind chutney it went down reasonably well, though the tempering was largely lost outside of a few random chompings on a cumin seed. The concept of a lemon sized piece of tamarind also may be lost on me, as this is far darker than the drink in pictures at the source.