Chilli Paneer

Chilli Paneer (Indian Cottage Cheese) is a very popular Indo-Chinese dish. It becomes even more interesting as this can be served as both a starter as well as a main course.

Why do I call it Indo-Chinese?? Well, you would not find paneer in the menu in an authentic Chinese restaurant!!! The closest ingredient to paneer that you may find is tofu. But both taste very different..:)

The taste of a paneer dish depends heavily on the type of paneer you use. If you have ever made one using fresh paneer, I doubt if you will ever go back to making it with the packaged ones. And nowadays you actually don’t need to make paneer at home to get fresh paneer. Its available to buy locally in many stores.

Follow this recipe step by step to make a delicious Chilli Paneer for your next meal!!!

Few things to keep in mind

  • Prepare before hand: Make sure your paneer and all your veggies are cut and prepared before you start the cooking process. The entire cooking for this dish doesn’t take too much of time. So having everything chopped and ready makes life a lot easier!
  • High heat: The onions and the vegetables used in any Indo-Chinese dish are not cooked thoroughly. They are sauted on a high heat so that they are cooked enough and at the same time maintain their crunchiness.
  • Fresh Ingredients: Needless to say, using fresh ingredients always makes a difference to the final flavours in any dish. And paneer being our hero ingredient, if you can, please do get fresh paneer for this recipe…:)

Recipe

Ingredient List

For marination:

  • Paneer, cut into cubes – 250 gms
  • Corn Flour – 3 tbsp
  • All Purpose Flour – 2 tbsp
  • Kashmiri Chilli Powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Pepper Powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Salt – as per taste
  • Water – as needed to make a thick batter
  • Regular Cooking Oil – for shallow frying

For the sauce:

  • Soya Sauce – 1 tbsp
  • Vinegar – 1 tsp
  • Green Chilli Sauce – 2 tsp
  • Red Chilli Sauce / Paste – 1 tsp (you can skip this completely or increase it to 2 tsp depending on the level of spiciness you prefer)
  • Tomato Ketchup – 2 tsp
  • Sugar – a pinch, to adjust the tanginess and saltiness in the sauce

Other ingredients:

  • Garlic – 4-5 cloves, finely chopped
  • Onion – 1 large size, cut into cubes
  • Capsicum/Bell Pepper – 1 large size, cut into cubes (you can use a mix green, red and yellow capsicum/bell pepper also)
  • Green Chilli – 1, slit into 2 or 4
  • Spring Onions – a few chopped
  • Pepper Powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Salt – as per taste

Optional (for making a gravy):

  • Corn Flour – 2 tsp
  • Water – 1 cup

Step by Step Process

  1. Take a clean bowl and add all the ingredients for the marination in it, except the paneer, water and oil. Slowly add enough water to make it into a thick batter.
  2. Heat a little oil in a pan and keep it on medium heat. We are not deep frying the paneer, hence only a little oil, as required, for shallow frying is required.
  3. Add the paneer pieces into the prepared marinade and let them coat well with the marinade. Alternatively, you can add a few pieces at a time.
  4. Slowly, one by one, add the coated paneer pieces into the hot pan and let it cook till golden brown on one side on a medium heat. Turn the paneer pieces over till the other side is golden brown as well. Remove it onto a plate lined with tissue paper. This will help absorb any excess oil.
  5. Repeat step 4 for all the batter coated paneer pieces. Once done, keep the paneer pieces aside.
  6. In the same pan, remove any excess oil, if present, leaving just a teaspoon of oil. Add the chopped garlic cloves in the hot oil and fry till fragrant and lightly golden brown.
  7. Add the chopped onions and spring onion whites and saute on high flame till half translucent.
  8. Add the capsicum and green chilli and continue to saute on high flame for a minute or two.
  9. To this now, add all the ingredients required listed under sauce – soya sauce, vinegar, green chilli sauce, red chilli sauce / paste (if using), tomato ketchup and sugar.
  10. Continue stirring on high flame for a few seconds till the onions and capsicums are well coated in the sauce.
  11. Add the fried paneer pieces to this and give it a quick stir so that everything is coated properly in the sauce.
  12. Add the pepper and salt (if required). Since all the sauces added have salt content in it, please check for the salt level in the dish before adding any salt.
  13. If you need a thick gravy dish, add 2 tsp of cornflour to 1 cup of water and stir well till dissolved. Add this cornflour slurry to the pan and mix everything gently. Let the gravy come to a boil and thicken. Check for salt, and add if required, before turning off heat.
  14. Turn off the heat and transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with a few chopped spring onion greens and enjoy your Chilli Paneer.

You can have Chilli Paneer as a starter, just by itself, or as a main course with fried rice, plain rice or noodles.

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