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How To Cook Healthy For Beginners: Paneer and cauliflower bowl recipe

How To Cook Healthy For Beginners Paneer and cauliflower bowl

Want to learn how to cook healthy? Healthista’s Vanessa Chalmers does. In her column this week, Vanessa tries ‘JP’s Paneer and Cauliflower’ from Louise Parker’s Lean for Life: The Cookbook

A healthy lifestyle is achievable for anyone. But there are tons of recipes out there that seem to require rose petals, fruits of a forbidden forest and caviar as ingredients.

In my mind at least, as long as I am cooking from scratch with a variety of beneficial foods from the local supermarket I am one step further to healthy living. That’s why, every Friday I will be bringing you an easy, affordable and simple recipe – for the busy everyday woman who is nothing more than an amateur chef, but loves food and to cook. Last week I did herbed turkey meatballs with courgetti pomodoro.

Flicking through nutritionist Louise Parker’s new Lean for Life cookbook, I came across JP’s Paneer and Cauliflower, which Louise says her brother, JP, wows a crowd of guests with. It looks almost like a chunky vegetable stew. However, the main components include chickpeas, paneer (a cheese often used in Indian cooking) and of course cauliflower. With affordable ingredients I could recognise and pick up from an express supermarket on my route home, how hard could it be?

This meal is very filling

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JP’s Paneer & Cauliflower

Serves 4


How To Cook Healthy For Beginners Paneer and cauliflower bowl
Some of the ingredients

1 cauliflower

Good spray of olive oil

8 garlic cloves

2 tablespoons of groundnut oil (I cheated and used olive oil)

225g pack of paneer cheese, cubed

2 red onions, finely sliced

1 teaspoon (1cm/half inch piece) peeled and finely grated fresh root ginger

2 red chillies, chopped (I couldn’t get hold of these! I found birds eye chillies but was too afraid to use them)

1/4 teaspoon garam masala

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I used paprika)

1/4 teaspoon tumeric

2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes

400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

200g frozen peas

200g frozen spinach defrosted, or fresh

Leaves from 1 bunch of coriander

MORE: Meat free Monday recipe: Tofu Pad Prik Curry from nutritionist Alli Godbold


  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius
  • Chop the head of cauliflower into florets, spray lightly with olive oil and pop onto a baking tray along with the garlic cloves. Bake for 20 minutes until slightly golden. Remove and set aside.

How To Cook Healthy For Beginners Paneer and cauliflower bowl

  • Add 1 teaspoon of the groundnut oil to a wok and set over a medium heat. Brown the paneer cubes on all sides for about 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and set aside.

    How To Cook Healthy For Beginners Paneer and cauliflower bowl
    The paneer cheese
  • Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan with the onions and keep stirring until they’re golden. Add the ginger, chillies and ground spices and fry off the spices for 1 minute. Now add the tomatoes and chickpeas, then squeeze the baked garlic from their skins into the pan and let it simmer over a low heat for 10-15 minutes.

How To Cook Healthy For Beginners Paneer and cauliflower bowl

  • Add the paneer, cauliflower, peas and spinach and let the flavours combine and simmer over a very low heat for a further 5 minutes.
  • Taste for seasoning and adjust to taste. Sprinkle with plenty of coriander to serve.
How To Cook Healthy For Beginners Paneer and cauliflower bowl
The final product

This meal is filling, with the portion sizes just right, and each mouthful has a crunch from the cauliflower and chickpeas. Suitable for vegetarians, and also adjustable for vegans (there are lots of vegan cheeses in supermarkets now), it’s a good all rounder please everyone. The flavours were a little bland without the chilli, but that is my own fault; I would definitely recommend using chilli, and perhaps more than half a teaspoon of each spice. If I were to make it again I would go for halloumi cheese for its saltiness, as paneer cheese is extremely mild and I don’t think it would satisfy a cheese worshiper (ahem, me). Don’t let this put you off, as this dish is versatile to throw in any veg or other ingredients you fancy that will work well with a kicking tomato sauce. The full roasted garlic was divine too!

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How To Cook Healthy For Beginners: Paneer and cauliflower bowlBuy The Louise Parker Method: Lean for Life: The Cookbook for £9.99

MORE: How To Cook Healthy For Beginners: Writer Vanessa Chalmers’ new column starts with a recipe for Mediterranean Cod Bake

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