Chilli Paneer, a vibrant and flavorful Indo-Chinese dish, brings the essence of Chinese Hakka heritage to your table. This vegetarian delight, an alternative to Chilli Chicken, combines paneer and bell peppers with rich Chinese sauces and aromatic spices, offering a perfect balance of sweet, sour, and spicy tastes.
Quick to prepare in under 30 minutes, it's a popular restaurant-style appetizer that complements a variety of sides, from fried rice and noodles to brown or basmati rice. Available in gravy, dry, or semi-gravy forms, this versatile dish features either shallow or deep-fried paneer, stir-fried in a zesty sauce and enhanced with crunchy onions and bell peppers for an added burst of flavor.
Perfect as a starter or a side, Chilli Paneer is sure to elevate your lunch or dinner experience.
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Ingredients and Substitutions Overview
To whip up a delicious Chilli Paneer, you'll need a few essential ingredients commonly found in Indian and Asian grocery stores. Let's take a look at what they are.
Ingredients for Marination:
- Paneer: The primary ingredient, providing a soft, cheese-like texture that absorbs flavors well. Both store-bought and homemade paneer work perfectly.
- Soy Sauce: Adds a salty, umami flavor. Using low-sodium soy sauce helps control the dish's sodium content.
- Paprika and Black Pepper: Paprika imparts a deep red color and mild heat, while black pepper adds an earthy, spicy note. Kashmiri chili powder can be a substitute for paprika, offering a similar color and mild heat.
- Flours (All-purpose and Cornstarch): These are used for coating the paneer, giving it a crisp exterior when fried. All-purpose flour provides the base coat, while cornstarch ensures a crispy texture.
- Ginger Garlic Paste: Contributes a fresh aroma and a unique, pungent flavor, which is key to the dish's overall taste profile.
Ingredients for Chilli Paneer:
- Aromatics (Ginger, Garlic, Green Chili, Onion): Used for stir-frying, these ingredients infuse the dish with rich, aromatic flavors and a hint of heat.
- Bell Peppers: When stir-fried, they add a sweet crunchiness, enhancing the texture of the dish.
- Sauces: Low Sodium Soy Sauce for umami flavor, and chili sauce for heat. Alternatives like Schezwan sauce or Sambal Oelek can be used for varied spicy profiles.
- Brown Sugar: Provides a subtle, earthy sweetness, balancing the spiciness and sourness of other ingredients.
- Rice Vinegar: Adds a mildly sweet and acidic taste. Regular or apple cider vinegar are suitable substitutes, offering similar flavors.
- Ketchup: Contributes a mild sweetness and tanginess, complementing the other flavors.
- Cornstarch Slurry: Used to thicken the sauces, giving the dish a desirable consistency.
How to Make Chilli Paneer Dry?
Dive into the art of making Chilli Paneer Dry with our concise, step-by-step guide, complete with photos and video. From marinating paneer to the perfect shallow fry, we've got you covered for a delicious experience. Let's begin!
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- 1.75 lb Paneer, cut into small squares
- 1 tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
- 1 tsp Paprika, or Kashmiri Chilli Powder
- ½ tsp Ground Black Pepper
- 2 tbsp Soy Sauce, low sodium
- 2 tbsp Cornstarch
- 2 tbsp All Purpose Flour
For Shallow Frying
- 3 tbsp Oil
For Stir Frying
- ¼ cup Oil
- 1 tsp Ginger, chopped
- 1 tsp Garlic, chopped
- 3 Green Chili, slited
- 2 tbsp Green Onion, white part
- ¼ cup Onion, chopped and layers separated
- ¼ cup Green Bell Pepper, chopped
- ¼ cup Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
- 2 tbsp Soy Sauce, low sodium
- 1 tsp Rice Vinegar
- 1 tbsp Ketchup
- 1 tbsp Chilli Sauce, or chili paste or sambal oelek
- ½ tsp Ground Black Pepper
- Salt, as needed
- 1 tsp Brown Sugar
- 1 tbsp Cornstarch, diluted in 3 tbsp water
- Green Onions , to garnish
To Marinate the Paneer
- Take a wide bowl and add paneer along with the other ingredients specified in the marination list.
- Mix well, ensuring the paneer is evenly coated with the seasonings. Note: Salt isn't added as the soy sauce in the marinade already contributes enough saltiness. Additionally, there's no need to rest the marinated paneer before shallow frying.
To Make Chilli Paneer
- In a frying pan with medium heat, add oil and add the marinated paneer one by one without overcrowding the pan.
- Fry the paneer until all sides turn a golden color. This not only adds a delightful crunch but also seals in the flavors.
- Remove the fried paneer from the pan and set it aside.
- In a wok with high heat, pour in oil. Add ginger, garlic, green chili, and green onions, and sauté until the mix turns aromatic. This forms the flavor base of the dish.
- Add onions and bell peppers, stir frying for 2 to 3 minutes. The goal is to cook them until crisp-tender, retaining some crunch for texture contrast.
- Add soy sauce, chili sauce, ketchup, black pepper powder, brown sugar, and a hint of salt. Toss everything well to ensure the veggies are coated evenly in the sauces.
- Pour in the cornstarch slurry, stirring until the sauce thickens and becomes glossy.
- Add the fried paneer back into the wok, gently mixing to coat the paneer evenly in the sauce.
- Garnish with spring onions for a fresh, colorful finish. Remove from heat promptly to prevent overcooking. Now your chilli paneer is ready to be savored and enjoyed!
- Serve the Chilli Paneer immediately to enjoy its optimal flavor and texture. This dish pairs exceptionally well with a side of fried rice or noodles. For more creative pairing ideas, refer to the serving section for a complete and satisfying meal.
Chef's Notes and Tips
Paneer Preparation and Frying:
- Soft Paneer: For the best texture, use fresh homemade or store-bought paneer. To prevent it from becoming hard and dry, either marinate it right after cutting or soak it in warm water until ready to use.
- Marination: Enhance the paneer's flavor and ensure a crispy exterior by marinating with cornstarch and all-purpose flour, along with other seasonings. This method eliminates the need for a watery batter and keeps the coating intact during frying.
- Frying Technique: Shallow fry the paneer over medium heat for an evenly cooked, reddish-golden appearance. Be careful not to over-fry, as this can lead to a burnt and hardened texture.
- Avoid Overcrowding: When frying, give each piece of paneer enough space in the pan for even browning and to prevent sogginess.
Flavor and Sauce Tips:
- Sauce Selection: The choice of sauces is crucial. Opt for low-sodium soy sauce, organic rice vinegar, ketchup, and homemade chili sauce to enhance the dish's flavor while keeping it bit healthier.
- Consistency of Sauce: For a thicker sauce, adjust the cornstarch slurry. If you prefer a thinner consistency, add a little water or stock.
- Spice Adjustment: Tailor the level of spiciness to your preference. Reduce the chili sauce or green chilies if you have a lower tolerance for heat.
Cooking and Serving:
- High-Heat Stir Frying: Use a high heat setting when stir frying in a wok, ensuring quick cooking for crispy yet tender vegetables and paneer.
- Preparation is Key: Since ingredients need to be stir-fried quickly, it's important to prepare all your vegetables and other components in advance.
- Serve Immediately: Chilli Paneer is best enjoyed hot, as it allows for the most vibrant flavors and the best texture of the paneer.
- Cookware Choice: While a traditional wok is ideal for achieving authentic flavors, a regular pan can be a suitable substitute.
Disclaimer: We’re not nutrition experts. Nutritional info is estimated and should be used as a guide. For precise details, consult a professional.
Explore an array of delicious Paneer recipes, vibrant Stir Fry dishes, and authentic Asian recipes. Our collection ranges from delicious Paneer delights to dynamic Stir Fry creations, offering a perfect blend of flavors to tantalize your taste buds.
How to Make Chilli Paneer Gravy?
To prepare Chilli Paneer with gravy, begin with the usual marination and frying process for the paneer. Then, make these adjustments for the gravy, keeping in mind that the measurements provided are tailored for the specific serving size mentioned in this recipe. Adjust the proportions accordingly if you alter the serving size.
- Increase Sauce Quantities: Enhance the flavor depth by adding more soy sauce and chili sauce. Use 3 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1½ tablespoons of chili sauce during the stir-frying process.
- Add a Liquid Base: Introduce 1 cup of water to the sauce mix to form the gravy base. If a more voluminous gravy is desired, you may increase it to 1½ cups.
- Maintain Cornstarch Slurry: Keep the cornstarch slurry the same as in the dry version (1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons of water) to thicken the gravy.
- Simmer to Thicken: Let the sauce mixture simmer until it achieves a glossy and thick consistency, which is key to a good gravy.
- Combine with Paneer: After preparing the gravy, gently mix in the fried paneer, ensuring each piece is evenly coated.
By following these steps and adjusting the proportions as needed, you'll be able to create a delicious Chilli Paneer with gravy that's perfect for a heartier, saucier meal.
Chilli Paneer, a delightful and spicy dish, pairs wonderfully with a range of main dishes and drinks, enhancing its rich flavors. Consider these pairing options:
- Rice Dishes: Pair it with brown, basmati or Jeera Rice for a fragrant and subtly spiced base that complements the bold flavors of the Chilli Paneer.
- Fried Rice Varieties: Pair with classic fried rice, chicken fried rice, Schezwan fried rice or shrimp fried rice for a delightful combination.
- Noodles: Hakka Noodles or Schezwan Noodles are excellent choices, adding an extra dimension of texture and spice that matches well with the paneer.
- Indian Flat Breads: Serve alongside Indian breads like naan, roti, or paratha. These breads are perfect for scooping up the gravy and offer a soft or flaky contrast.
- Salads: For a lighter side, a fresh cucumber salad or Bean Sprout Salad can add a refreshing crunch and lightness, balancing the spiciness of the Chilli Paneer.
- Soups: Start the meal with a hot and sour soup or Sweet Corn Soup to complement the flavor profile of the Chilli Paneer.
- Beverages: To counter the dish's heat, a sweet mango lassi is a great choice for a refreshing beverage pairing.
These pairing options not only enhance the taste of Chilli Paneer but also create a more rounded and satisfying dining experience.
Following these storage and reheating tips will help you enjoy your Chilli Paneer leftovers while maintaining as much of their original flavor and texture as possible.
- Immediate Enjoyment: Chilli Paneer is best enjoyed fresh out of the wok, where its flavors and textures are at their peak.
- Refrigeration: If you have leftovers, store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator. They can be kept for up to a day.
- Reheating: To reheat, use the microwave on high heat for about 1 to 2 minutes or until evenly heated through. Ensure the paneer is warm and the sauce is bubbling slightly.
- Texture Consideration: Be aware that stir-fried dishes like Chilli Paneer may lose some of their crispiness upon reheating. While still tasty, the texture may differ slightly from when it was freshly made.