July 10, 2024

Grilled Paneer and Watermelon Sandwich with Cilantro Pesto

Recipe: Devan Rajkumar

“Paneer can be a little dense. I love it like this, contrasted with grilled fruit and an herbaceous pesto.” – Devan Raykumar


Herb-lemon Mayo (batch)

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped chives
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped dill
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Cilantro Pesto

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups packed cilantro leaves
  • ⅓ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Grilled Paneer and Watermelon Sandwich

  • 4 tsp grapeseed oil
  • 8 oz. paneer, cut into 2″ x 3″ slices, ⅓” thick
  • 4 slices watermelon, about .” thick, patted dry
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2 hamburger buns
  • Cilantro Pesto (see above)
  • Herb-lemon Mayo (see above), to serve
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced


Yield: Serves 2

Make Herb-lemon Mayo

  1. In measuring jug, combine all ingredients. Using immersion blender, blend until mixture is emulsified.

Make Cilantro Pesto

  1. In food processor or blender, combine all ingredients except oil. Pulse until incorporated and slightly chunky. Slowly drizzle in oil until emulsified. (Take care not to over-blend it; otherwise, you’ll heat the pesto.)

Grill Paneer and Watermelon and Assemble

  1. Preheat barbecue to high heat. Brush oil over paneer and watermelon. Season with salt and pepper. Place paneer and watermelon on grill and sear for 2 to 3 minutes total, until charred on both sides.
  2. Lightly butter cut-sides of hamburger buns. Place on grill, buttered-side down. Toast for 1 to 2 minutes, until golden brown.
  3. Transfer buns to plates. Brush cut-side of bottom bun with Cilantro Pesto and cut-side of top bun with Herb-lemon Mayo. To each bottom bun, add slice of watermelon, slice of paneer, another slice of watermelon and top with arugula, red onion slices and top bun. Serve warm.

Recipe from Mad Love: Big Flavors Made to Share, from South Asia to the West Indies by Devan Rajkumar. Photography by Suech and Beck. ©2023 by Devan Rajkumar. Excerpted with permission from Figure 1 Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher