Chilli Paneer

// Chilli Paneer, is a popular Indo-Chinese style starter or appetizer. This  dish has Indian cottage cheese (paneer) and a spicy sauce.



Chilli Paneer, is a delectable and popular Indo-Chinese style starter or appetizer. This tantalizing fusion dish combines the creamy goodness of Indian cottage cheese (paneer) and a spicy, flavor-packed sauce infused with soy sauce, chili sauce, and vinegar.

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photo of a bowl of chilli paneer with chopsticks

This delightful recipe captures the essence of Indo-Chinese cuisine, that can be served as an appetizer or even as a main course. It is a perfect companion to other Indo-Chinese dishes such as gobi manchurian, manchurian fried rice, egg fried rice, Schezwan fried rice, hot and sour soup or hakka noodles

With this easy step-by-step picture instructions and video recipe you can make restaurant style Chilli Paneer at home!

photo of a person holding a bowl of paneer chilli with chopsticks

About Chilli Paneer

Chilli Paneer aka Paneer Chilli is a dish hails from Indo-Chinese cuisine and has become a culinary sensation in India. Due to the abundance of vegetarian options and vibrant spices, Indo-Chinese dishes have a lot of variety of vegetarian dishes.

Similar to Paneer Manchurian, this indulging dish has a unique blend of Chinese-inspired flavors which is adapted to suit Indian taste buds. 

This cherished vegetarian delicacy has made its mark as a popular starter at parties and get-togethers.  It is an ideal vegetarian starter for every occasion.

Growing up in India, Indo-Chinese dishes were my absolute favorite. Be it chow mein noodles, chilli paneer, or soups, or any other dishes, devouring these delights of Indo-Chinese cuisine is always a charm. 

Today I am sharing the restaurant style Chilli Paneer recipe with you. Like any other Indo-Chinese sides or appetizers, this recipe can also be prepared in two popular variations: the dry version, which is perfect as an appetizer, and the gravy version, which is ideal for serving as a main course alongside rice or noodles

Today I am sharing a semi-dry version which has a little sauce which makes it a versatile dish suitable for both appetizer and main course roles.

This delightful dish has a melodious balance with a savory-spicy-tangy sauce and rich, crispy fried paneer pieces, making it an absolute crowd-pleaser.

Whether you are hosting a grand party or planning a cozy get-together, or looking for a quick weeknight dinner or a spectacular party appetizer, this easy Chilli Paneer recipe will surely impress your guests. 

overhead photo of a pan filled with a chilli paneer

This Chilli Paneer 

✔︎  is delicious and hassle-free 

✔︎  is a crowd-pleaser 

✔︎  is quick and easy-to-make 

✔︎  is bursting with tantalizing flavors 

✔︎  is protein rich 

✔︎  can also be made vegan & gluten-free 

✔︎  is a favorite among all age groups 

✔︎  can be made by both novice and experienced cooks 

✔︎  can be served as a starter or main dish 

✔︎  is suitable for special occasion or a simple weeknight dinner

Ingredients

  • Paneer: Indian cottage cheese or paneer is the main ingredient of this recipe. It has a mild, creamy flavor that perfectly pairs with the bold and spicy sauce. I have used bite-sized cubes; you can cut it into any shape you like.  

  • Salt: You will need some salt to enhance the flavor of the paneer and balance the spiciness of the sauce. 

  • Cornstarch: It is used for making batter. Cornstarch is also needed to make cornstarch slurry and is also used to thicken the sauce and to give it a glossy finish. 

  • All-Purpose Flour: You will need some all-purpose flour to make the batter. The mix of all-purpose flour and cornstarch coating ensures that the paneer turns golden and crunchy when fried.  

  • Ground pepper: You will need some fresh black pepper powder to the batter to add a subtle kick to the paneer. Also, you will need white pepper powder  to the sauce. It complements beautifully with other spices in the dish. 

  • Water: It is used for making smooth batter for coating the paneer cubes. And a small amount of water is used to make the sauce and to achieve the desired consistency. 

  • Oil: You will need oil for deep-frying. You can use canola oil or any other frying oil that has a high smoke point. Also, you will need oil for making sauce. Here, you can use sesame oil to infuse an aromatic and nutty flavor.

Or you can also use any other oil of your choice. 

  • Sauces: For making a saucy base, you will need a combination of sauces such as soy sauce for savory umami flavor, chili sauce for fiery element and spicy kick, and tomato sauce for sweetness and a hint of tanginess.

You can adjust the quantity of sauces to suit your spice tolerance. 

  • Vinegar: For traditional flavors, you will need rice vinegar. It lends a mild acidity to the sauce, while balancing the heat from the green chili, and chili sauce. You can also use white vinegar for making this recipe. 

  • Ginger-Garlic Paste: Some ginger-garlic paste is added to the batter for a fragrant and pungent aroma. 

  • Chopped Ginger-Garlic: You will also need a combination of chopped ginger and chopped ginger to stir-fry.  

  • Green Bell Pepper: Capsicum or green bell pepper is added for freshness, a burst of color contrast, and a mild, veggie flavor to the dish. 

  • Red Onion: You will also need quartered, and petals separated from red onions for a nice crunch, and contrast and subtle sweetness. 

  • Green Chili Sliced: Sliced green chili adds an extra layer of heat and a pop of color to the dish. 

  • Green Onions: Chopped spring onions are added to the sauce, and spring onions greens are used as a garnish.  

  • Sugar: A touch of sugar mellows out the heat, and balances the tangy flavors while enhancing the overall taste.

overhead photo of a bowl of chilli paneer with chopsticks and a plate of food

Variations 

Chilli Tofu

You can make chilli tofu by swapping paneer with tofu. The rest of the recipe will be the same.

Chilli Halloumi

For this fusion version of chilli halloumi, you need to replace the paneer cubes with halloumi cheese. Simply coat halloumi pieces with the batter and fry and toss with the chilli sauce.

Chilli Paneer Frankie

Other than eating them as an appetizer, or side, you can also make a Frankie with this dish. To make chilli paneer frankie, simply stuff the chilli paneer in a cooked roti, paratha, or tortilla to make a mouthwatering Frankie wrap. Also, add some fresh salad greens and sliced onions to it.

Chilli Paneer Pizza

Love exploring fusion Indian and Italian flavors? Then you can use chilli paneer as a pizza topping along with some mozzarella cheese for an Indo-Italian fusion treat. Bake until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown for a unique and delicious pizza. 

Chilli Paneer Tacos 

For a Mexican twist, fill taco shells with paneer chilli and your favorite taco toppings add shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and a dollop of sour cream or yogurt for a delightful Chilli Paneer Taco taste. 

Vegan Chilli Paneer 

For a vegan version of chilli paneer, you need to substitute extra-firm tofu for paneer. Tofu makes an excellent vegan substitute. Make sure to press the tofu to remove excess moisture before cutting it into cubes. 

Gluten-Free Chilli Paneer 

To make this recipe gluten-free, you need to use a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend. Most soy sauce brands contain wheat, so make sure that the soy sauce you are using is gluten-free.

Serving Suggestions 

Chilli Paneer tastes best when served hot straight from the pan. You can serve it as a starter, or as an appetizer at parties or gatherings. To make it more appealing and party-friendly, you can skew it using toothpicks for easy snacking. 

Or you can also pair it with fried rice, hakka noodles, or steamed rice for a complete meal experience. It can also be served alongside other North Indian dishes like butter naan or vegetable biryani for a grand feast.

photo of a bowl of paneer chilli on a wooden rack with chopsticks and a bowl of soup

Storage Suggestions  

If you have any leftovers, then store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They stay fresh for up to 2-3 days. Make sure to use it within 3 days to maintain its texture and flavor. 

Freezing: You can also freeze fried paneer pieces for up to 2 months. To freeze, place the cooled fried paneer pieces in a single layer on a freezer safe tray. Once frozen, transfer the frozen paneer pieces to a ziplock bag and freeze.  

When you want to enjoy chilli paneer, thaw, and bake the paneer pieces until they are crisp again. And then, toss the paneer pieces in fresh sauce. Your delicious chili paneer is ready to be devoured.

Leftover Recipe Usage

If you have some leftover paneer chilli, then you can make an entirely new dish using chilli paneer.

Paneer Chilli Fried Rice

You can make delectable paneer chilli fried rice by tossing it with cooked steamed rice. You can use any diced vegetables of your choice. For an added flavor, you can add more soy sauce and other sauces.

Paneer Chilli Sandwich

If you like sandwiches, then use it as a sandwich filling. Spread some chili sauce or sriracha sauce on the bread slices. Toast the bread until crispy and your spicy satisfying sandwich is ready.  

Chilli Paneer Noodles

Love a fusion noodle dish? Then you would love chilli paneer noodles. To make this recipe, you can toss your leftover paneer chilli with boiled noodles to make chilli paneer noodles.

photo of a cast iron pan with paneer chilli in it

Tips & Tricks to Make Chilli Paneer

  1. Paneer: Always use fresh, and high-quality paneer pieces. If possible, opt for homemade paneer or a trusted brand. Make sure to use the firm paneer, as it holds its shape during frying. Also, to prevent excessive splattering when frying, paneer should be well-drained before dipping them in the batter. 

  2. Marinate: For an added flavor, you can also marinate the paneer pieces in the spice mixture for at least 15-20 minutes. You can even marinate it for some hours and refrigerate it for later use. 

  3. Crispy Paneer: To achieve crispy paneer pieces, make sure to coat the paneer cubes with cornstarch and all-purpose flour batter.  

  4. Frying: When frying paneer, ensure that the oil is hot enough for frying. To test, drop some batter into it. If it sizzles and rises to the surface, the oil is ready to use. You can also double fry the paneer to get extra crispy paneer. 

  5. Do not overcrowd the pan: If you are using a small pan, then fry the paneer cubes in batches. Make sure that you don’t overcrowd the pan, as it can make the paneer soggy. 

  6. Customizing: You can adjust the spice levels by reducing or increasing the green chilies and chili sauce according to your spice preference.

  7. Flavors: Simply taste your sauce before adding paneer and adjust the sweetness, tanginess, and spiciness according to your taste preference.

  8. Avoid Overcooking: When making sauce, always cook the vegetables until they are slightly cooked and still have a crunchy texture. Do not overcook, or the vegetables might get mushy. 

  9. Thickening: To thicken the sauce, use cornstarch slurry. Add it gradually and stir well to prevent over-thickening. 

  10. Experiment: Feel free to experiment with different vegetables, nuts, or even with meat.   

  11. Glossy Finish: For a shiny finish, you can drizzle your chilli paneer with a few drops of chili oil or sesame oil just before serving. This gives it a polished appearance. 

  12. Reheating: When reheating leftover paneer chilli, simply heat it gently over low heat until warm. This step prevents overcooking and maintains the paneer’s texture.  

  13. Storing: If you are planning to store this dish, then store paneer and sauce separately and toss the paneer pieces in reheated sauce when you want to serve.

FAQ 

Can I use homemade paneer for this recipe? 

Yes, you can surely use homemade paneer for making this chilli paneer recipe. In fact, homemade paneer tastes great in this recipe. 

Is there a substitute for dark soy sauce? 

Yes, you can substitute dark soy sauce with regular soy sauce. The taste is the same with both sauces, but the color may be slightly lighter. 

Can I make it less spicy? 

Absolutely. You can reduce the amount of green chili sauce or omit it completely for a milder flavor. To make it less spicy, you can also reduce or skip adding green chilies to control the spiciness. Some sugar or more vinegar can also be added to balance the heat.

What’s the best way to reheat leftover paneer chilli? 

To get the best flavors of reheated paneer chilli,  gently reheat it in a pan over low heat or microwave, adding a splash of water to maintain the sauce’s consistency. 

Can I use tofu instead of paneer for a vegan version of Chilli Paneer? 

Yes, using tofu in this recipe is possible. It is an excellent substitute for paneer if you want to make it vegan.

How do I store leftover Chilli Paneer? 

You can store leftover paneer chilli for up to 2-3 days in the refrigerator. To store, transfer chilli paneer in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. When you want to enjoy it, reheat it in a pan or microwave before serving. 

How do I prevent the paneer from turning soggy after frying? 

To keep the paneer cubes crispy, you need to ensure that they are well-coated with the cornstarch and all-purpose flour mixture. Also, remember that the oil is hot enough before frying. This step will prevent it from getting soggy.

Can I prepare Chilli Paneer in advance? 

Yes, if you are planning to make it for a party then you can make chilli paneer ahead of time. Fry the paneer and prepare the sauce and store them separately. Just before serving, reheat the sauce, toss in the paneer, garnish, and serve.

Can I use a different type of vinegar if I don’t have rice vinegar? 

Yes, you can certainly use other vinegar such as white vinegar or apple cider vinegar in a pinch.

How can I make the dish gluten-free? 

Making this dish gluten-free is possible. To make it gluten-free, swap the all-purpose flour with rice flour, or a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend. Also, keep in mind that the soy sauce you use is also gluten-free.

Can I add more vegetables to the Chilli Paneer? 

Yes, adding more vegetables will make this chilli paneer more colorful and fiber rich. You can customize it by adding vegetables like broccoli, edamame, mushrooms, carrots, or baby corn. 

What can I serve Chilli Paneer with?

Chilli Paneer pairs wonderfully with steamed rice, fried rice, or noodles. You can also enjoy it as a standalone appetizer or as a filling for wraps and sandwiches.


Chilli Paneer (Step-by-step photo instructions)

Make Batter:

  1. In a bowl, mix cornstarch, all-purpose flour, salt, black pepper powder, red chili powder, and ginger-garlic paste. Gradually add water to create a smooth lump-free batter.
  2. Image of the recipe cooking step-1-1 for Chilli Paneer

Fry Paneer:

  1. Next, add the paneer cubes to the batter and gently coat them. Afterward, place the batter-coated paneer cubes in moderately hot oil and either shallow or deep fry them until they turn golden brown and crispy. Once one side appears crispy and golden, flip each paneer cube to fry the second side. Remove the fried paneer cubes from the pan and place them on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb any excess oil. Set them aside.
  2. Image of the recipe cooking step-2-1 for Chilli Paneer

Make Chilli Paneer:

  1. In a pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chopped ginger and garlic; sauté for a few seconds. Then add sliced green chilies and sauté until they become fragrant.
  2. Image of the recipe cooking step-3-1 for Chilli Paneer
  3. Add chopped spring onions and sauté for 1-2 minutes on medium-high heat. Mix in chopped cilantro (coriander leaves). Add quartered red onions and green bell pepper squares, and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until they become slightly tender.
  4. Image of the recipe cooking step-3-2 for Chilli Paneer
  5. Now, add white pepper, red chili powder, soy sauce, tomato ketchup, red/green chili sauce, and vinegar. Mix well. Prepare the cornstarch slurry by combining water and cornstarch. Add it to the pan and stir continuously for 2 minutes.
  6. Image of the recipe cooking step-3-3 for Chilli Paneer
  7. Season with sugar and salt to taste, and cook until it thickens to the desired consistency. Adjust the consistency with water if necessary. Finally, add the fried paneer, chopped coriander leaves, and chopped spring onion greens to the pan. Gently fold them into the flavorful sauce.
  8. Image of the recipe cooking step-3-4 for Chilli Paneer
  9. Remove the pan from heat and transfer the chili paneer to a serving bowl. Present the restaurant-style Chilli Paneer, garnished with a sprinkle of spring onions and chopped green onions. Serve hot.
  10. Image of the recipe cooking step-3-5 for Chilli Paneer

Recipe Card


Chilli Paneer [Recipe]

Recipe Image
Chilli Paneer, is a popular Indo-Chinese style starter or appetizer. This  dish has Indian cottage cheese (paneer) and a spicy sauce.
★★★★★
(Rating: 5 from 7 reviews)

Prep time 🕐 Cook time 🕐 Total time 🕐
25 mins
Category ☶ Cuisine ♨ Serves ☺
Snacks Indo-Chinese 3
Nutrition Info ⊛ Serving size ⊚
280 calories 1

INGREDIENTS

For the Paneer:
  • 250 grams paneer, cut into cubes
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
  • A little less than 1/2 cup of water to make a free-flowing batter
  • Oil for frying
For the Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped ginger
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 2 green chilies, sliced diagonally
  • 1/2 cup sliced spring onions
  • 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1.5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice or white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon red/green chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon white or brown sugar
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 medium red onion, quartered with petals separated
  • 1 medium green pepper, cut into squares
  • Chopped green onions for garnishing
For the Cornstarch Slurry:
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

INSTRUCTIONS:

Make Batter:
  1. In a bowl, mix cornstarch, all-purpose flour, salt, black pepper powder, red chili powder, and ginger-garlic paste. Gradually add water to create a smooth lump-free batter.
Fry Paneer:
  1. Next, add the paneer cubes to the batter and gently coat them. Afterward, place the batter-coated paneer cubes in moderately hot oil and either shallow or deep fry them until they turn golden brown and crispy. Once one side appears crispy and golden, flip each paneer cube to fry the second side. Remove the fried paneer cubes from the pan and place them on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb any excess oil. Set them aside.
Make Chilli Paneer:
  1. In a pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chopped ginger and garlic; sauté for a few seconds. Then add sliced green chilies and sauté until they become fragrant.
  2. Add chopped spring onions and sauté for 1-2 minutes on medium-high heat. Mix in chopped cilantro (coriander leaves). Add quartered red onions and green bell pepper squares, and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until they become slightly tender.
  3. Now, add white pepper, red chili powder, soy sauce, tomato ketchup, red/green chili sauce, and vinegar. Mix well. Prepare the cornstarch slurry by combining water and cornstarch. Add it to the pan and stir continuously for 2 minutes.
  4. Season with sugar and salt to taste, and cook until it thickens to the desired consistency. Adjust the consistency with water if necessary. Finally, add the fried paneer, chopped coriander leaves, and chopped spring onion greens to the pan. Gently fold them into the flavorful sauce.
  5. Remove the pan from heat and transfer the chili paneer to a serving bowl. Present the restaurant-style Chilli Paneer, garnished with a sprinkle of spring onions and chopped green onions. Serve hot.

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NOTES:

  1. To achieve crispy paneer pieces, make sure to coat the paneer cubes with cornstarch and all-purpose flour batter.
  2. When frying paneer, ensure that the oil is hot enough for frying. To test, drop some batter into it. If it sizzles and rises to the surface, the oil is ready to use. You can also double fry the paneer to get extra crispy paneer.
  3. If you are using a small pan, then fry the paneer cubes in batches. Make sure that you don’t overcrowd the pan, as it can make the paneer soggy.
  4. You can adjust the spice levels by reducing or increasing the green chilies and chili sauce according to your spice preference.


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