Chilli paneer is a popular indo chinese cuisine starter or side dish recipe with paneer or Indian cottage cheese. Make restaurant style paneer chilli at home with this easy step by step recipe in under 40 minutes. Crispy pan fried paneer tossed in a flavorful sauce and topped with green onions!
Indo Chinese restaurant recipes are a huge favorite at out home. I know it is a favorite with many of you too.
If you are in case wondering what it is, Indo chinese is fusion cuisine where Chinese recipes and flavors are altered to Indian taste. It is a hugely popular cuisine and most sought after street food.
Now please do not confuse Indo Chinese with actual chinese cuisne. They are poles apart.
While the recipes are predominantly non vegetarian, there are also vegetarian variations for those mostly using paneer or cauliflower in place of meat.
For instance if you cannot eat chilli chicken, the popular most Indo chinese street food, you can enjoy this chilli paneer :). It is the popular vegetarian variation for chilli chicken.
What Is Chilli Paneer?
Chilli paneer recipe is a delicious paneer starter recipe where corn flour coated paneer are crisp fried first and then tossed in a flavorful indo Chinese freshly made chilli sauce along with stir fry onions, capsicum and spring onions.
For the chilli sauce like any Indo chinese recipe loads of ginger garlic, chili flakes and sesame oil are used. We are also adding some soy sauce, vinegar, red chili sauce are used.
Look at the bright color in the chili paneer pictures here? A small pinch of red chilli powder and tomato paste does the trick. No need to add any colorants.
To get that smoky unique flavor as the ones from the restaurants you need the right equipment. In restaurants and street shops they use this super huge and heavy Chinese wok and fry the ingredients in extremely high heat. So at home we shall make the best of what we have and make this recipe.
Use good sturdy wok or pan, preferably cast iron, do the entire cooking of fresh chilli sauce and stir fry veggies in high heat just like you would while doing stir fry.
Unlike the ones from restaurants, this homemade chilli paneer recipe uses no msg, has high quality sauces in moderate quantities. It gives you once of the best dry chilli paneer.
If you love street style Chinese food but worried about msg and low quality sauces, do try this recipe and you will love it. This recipe of chilli paneer is simple, easy and beginner friendly.
This is my all time favorite recipe from this cuisine and I always get one at restaurants. This recipe is from a generous chef of a small make shift Indo chinese restaurant where we dined in many years back. He was all smiles sharing this recipe with me and also threw in many pro tips.
Over the years I have made this recipe so many times and I am super thrilled to share this Indo Chinese restaurant style chilli paneer recipe with you all today 🙂
In any restaurant you will find two versions of chilli paneer. Semi dry version served as snack and gravy one as side dish. I like semi dry ones not literally drenched in sauce.
Though this dry chilli paneer is a starter and some what similar to paneer manchurian, we love this as side dish especially with veg fried rice or schezwan noodles.
This has a little sauce, loaded with paneer and crispy peppers and totally yum. Even good as main course with a salad.
The simply satiated feeling that no other food can sometimes give 🙂
This Chilli Paneer Is
Super addictive and absolutely irresistible
Restaurant style version
So easy to make at home
Vegetarian and can be made gluten free
So good with fried rice or noodles
Flavorful and very very delicious.
How To Make Chilli Paneer Recipe
Frying The Paneer
Cut the paneer into bite size cubes and place in a wide bowl. Add 2 tablespoons plain flour, 2 tablespoons corn starch, 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon pepper powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Add around 3-4 tablespoons water and toss the flours to coat the paneer.
Heat oil for deep frying in a heavy pan.
Add the paneer cubes in batches to the hot oil depending on the size of your pan. Fry the paneer over medium heat.
Stir and spread the paneer while frying to avoid sticking at the bottom and also to each other.
Stir well and fry them until crispy and golden brown. This takes around 4-5 minutes over medium heat. Remove to a strainer and keep aside.
Preparing corn Flour slurry
Mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 1/4 cup cold water and mix into a lump free paste. If you want to make the gravy version use 2 tablespoons cornstrach and 1 cup water. You could also use tapioca starch or potato starch.
Making Restaurant Style Chilli Paneer
heat 1 tbsp oil in a heavy wok or pan. Add chopped ginger garlic or paste, finely chopped green chillies, finely chopped celery, 1/2 tablespoon chili flakes. Saute for a minute in high flame.
Add the 1/2 cup cubed onions, 1/2 cup cubed capsicum. Cook for 2 minutes in highest flame. You can use either green bell pepper alone or mix of colored peppers. You could even use candy peppers to make it less spicier.
Next stir in the sauces- 1 tbsp green chilli sauce, 1 tbsp chilli paste or 1 teaspoon red chilli powder, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1 tablespoon vinegar. Mix well and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. In restaurants they also add some tomato ketchup here.
Now add the cornstarch slurry and mix well. Add 1 cup water and mix. Let the chilli sauce cook for 2-3 minutes until it thickens well. For this dry version you need the sauce to be quite thick and sticky.
Once the chilli sauce is thick, add paneer cubes that we deep fried earlier and toss well with the spicy sauce. After adding fried paneer cubes to the prepared sauce do not cook for long.
Garnish chilli paneer with chopped spring onion greens and serve immediately.
Tips To Make Chilli Paneer
If you want to make restaurant style chilli paneer, the following tips will get you through.
Quality of paneer
Paneer is the star of this delicious indo chinese dish so use the best one. I always use homemade paneer. It is fresh paneer, soft and delicious.
If you are using store bought paneer, keep the paneer pieces warm water for 10-15 minutes, rinse thoroughly and then cut into cubes.
Flours for coating paneer
I have used corn flour and a bit of all purpose to coat the paneer cubes. Instead of making a free flowing batter I like to toss the flours to paneer cubes as this method makes them crispier.
Traditionally we deep fry paneer for this dish and I have done the same. But you can also shallow fry, toast on tava or even grill or bake. I prefer shallow fried paneer over baked for this recipe.
While all these versions will taste good, the crispiness from batter coated pan fried paneer will be missing.
Also if you choose to deep fry, do not over fry paneer. Over frying will make them chewy and hard on cooling.
Use the right ingredients
To get the best chilli paneer recipe with restaurant like flavor use celery and sesame oil in this recipe. if celery is unavailable try adding thick stalks of coriander or cilantro.
If sesame oil is not available use any neutral vegetable oil.
Keep all the ingredients by the stove
This tip holds good for any Indo chinese recipe. We are going to cook in high heat for a brief time and ingredients are to be added one by one quickly.
It helps greatly to keep the chopped and measured ingredients ready to avoid burning or over cooking.
Chop the onions, spring onions, bell peppers and keep them ready. Finely chop the green chili, celery, mince the ginger garlic. If you using ginger garlic paste keep it ready.
Cook on high heat
In this recipe, we need to cook the vegetables for short time. Peppers and onions should well retain their crunch. This can be achieved by sauteing them in high heat for just 5-6 minutes.
Also avoid over cooking the onions and capsicums else they will turn soggy. These are the secret tips for making street style chilli paneer recipe.
Use good quality sauces for this recipe. Good quality soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil etc makes so much difference to the taste and flavor. Soy sauce also goes by the name soya sauce here.
Use naturally brewed low sodium soya sauce if possible. Also you can use a mix of dark and light soy sauce. Dark soy sauce yield a nice color and deep flavor.
I have used rice vinegar here, you can also use rice wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar.
Recipe Variations & Alternates
Can I skip all purpose flour?
If you want to avoid all purpose flour in this recipe you can do so. Just use wheat flour oradd more corn flour rice flour instead of all purpose flour.
On the same note if you want to avoid corn flour you can simply use rice flour or arrowroot flour. Even in sauce you can replace corn starch with arrowroot powder.
Marinating the paneer before frying?
This method is followed in some restaurants to make paneer cubes more flavorful.
Take paneer cubes in a bowl. Add 1/2 tablespoon chili sauce, 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce, some lemon juice and toss well. Set aside for 20 minutes.
Add flours to the marinated paneer and fry.
I don’t do this method as I do not like to use too much of sauces at one go especially for kids.
How to make chilli paneer gravy?
To covert this dry recipe chilli paneer dry into gravy, just increase the amount of corn flour plus water that is slurry. Instead of 1 tablespoons corn flour + 1/4 cup water use 3 tablespoons corn flour + 1 cup water. Cook as mentioned in the recipe. You can even make semi dry chilli paneer by slightly increasing the quantity of sauce.
How to make it vegan?
To make this recipe just use pressed extra firm tofu or mushrooms in place of paneer.
How to make it gluten free?
To make this recipe gluten free use gluten free tamari instead of soy sauce and corn flour or rice flour instead of all purpose flour.
Serve chilli paneer as appetizer or snack with a side of chili vinegar or hot sauce.
If you make it semi dry or gravy it goes very well as side dish with schezwan fried rice, noodles.
This will be a great side dish in any Asian meal or taste good with steamed jasmine rice too.
You can also make an easy chilli paneer wrap by stuffing this inside a phulka or tortilla or naan.
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Chilli Paneer Recipe
1 CUP = 250 ml
- 200 grams paneer cubed
- 2 tablespoons corn strach
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder powdered black peppercorns
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3-4 tablespoons water
For Chilli Sauce & stir fry
- 1 tablespoon oil sesame oil or vegetable oil
- 1 inch ginger root peeled and minced
- 4 garlic cloves peeled and minced
- 2 green chilies finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons delery chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1/2 cup cubed onion 1 medium onion
- 1/2 cup cubed green bell pepper 1 small
- 1/2 cup cubed red bell pepper 1 small
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon green chilli sauce
- 1 tablespoon chili paste use 1 teaspoon red chili powder as aternate
- salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup spring onions greens for garnish
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- water 1/4 cup + 1 cup
- Cut the paneer into bite size cubes and place in a wide bowl. Add 2 tablespoons plain flour, 2 tablespoons corn starch, 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon pepper powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
- Add around 3-4 tablespoons water and toss the flours to coat the paneer.
- Heat oil for deep frying in a heavy pan.
- Add the paneer cubes in batches to the hot oil depending on the size of your oan. Fry over medium heat.
- Stir and spread the paneer while frying to avoid sticking at the bottom and also to each other.
- Stir well and fry them until crispy and golden brown. This takes around 4-5 minutes over medium heat. Remove to a strainer and keep aside.
- Mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 1/4 cup cold water and mix into a lump free paste. If you want to make the gravy version use 2 tablespoons cornstrach and 1 cup water.
- heat 1 tbsp oil in a heavy wok or pan. Add minced ginger garlic or paste, chopped green chilli, chopped celery, 1/2 tablespoon chili flakes. Saute for a minute in high flame.
- Add the 1/2 cup cubed onions, 1/2 cup cubed capsicum. Cook for 2 minutes in highest flame.
- Next stir in the sauces- 1 tbsp green chilli sauce, 1 tbsp chilli paste or 1 teaspoon red chilli powder, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1 tablespoons vinegar. Mix well and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Now add the cornstrach slurry and mix well. Add 1 cup water and mix. Let the chilli sauce cook for 2-3 minutes until it thickens well. For this dry version you need the sauce to be quite thick and sticky.
- Once the chilli sauce is thick, add the fried paneer cubes and toss well.
- Garnish chilli paneer with chopped spring onion greens and serve immedietly.
- Instead of deep frying the paneer you can pan fry or even grill them.
- The recipe can be doubled
- If colored bellpeppers are not available just use green ones
- Vary the quantity of sauces as per taste.