Saucy, sticky and wickedly moreish is this Spicy Chili Paneer, one of the most popular appetizers ordered in any Indian restaurant. It’s almost impossible to pass the dish in the menu without giving it a second thought. Chances are, you will go for it even though you had the same dish just last week. The craving for this quick, spicy dish is so tremendous that it gets me salivated only by the thought of it!
I don’t have a high tolerance for spicy food, unless it gets balanced with sour and sweet. That’s exactly what this dish is. It does have a high level of heat from fresh chili but the sourness from soya sauce and sweetness from ketchup makes the sauce incredibly finger licking good.
What is Chili Paneer ?
Chili Paneer is a spicy Paneer dish that have few chunky bite size vegetables and crispy paneer all cooked in a spiced sweet sticky sauce. You can make Chili Paneer dry or Chili Paneer with gravy. Alternatively you can also prepare Chili Paneer with tofu and make the dish vegan.
The dish falls under the category of Indo-Chinese food, a preferred kind of food to most Indian palates. As the name suggests, it’s our Indian twist to Chinese food. Although, back in India, most people will often refer to it as Chinese food. Until my first work trip to Beijing, China (which happened several years back), I had no clue how different authentic Chinese food tastes. If you ask me, I love both the varieties just equally.
How to prepare Spicy Chili Paneer?
Paneer: You need to quote the paneer cubes in corn flour and either deep fry or shallow fry to make it golden crispy.
Vegetables: Onion, assorted bell peppers, green onions are few of the common vegetables that definitely goes in. I used wax pepper instead of green bell peppers only because I am not a big fan of green bell peppers.
Garlic, Ginger, Green Chili: You need to used fresh ginger and garlic for the best flavor. Green chili adds the refreshing heat but if you don't like too spicy food, than avoid the fresh green chili.
Soya sauce: Soya sauce is absolutely a mandate to bring the flavor of the sauce together.
It is a quick stir fried dish, so prepping all the ingredients in advance is a good idea.
You can prepare the same dish using boneless chicken thigh, cut into bite size. Or veganize it by using firm tofu.
There is a fair amount of chopping that goes in and once that is done, the dish comes together effortlessly. Paneer tends to get stiff as it gets cold and I prefer to serve the dish right away. You can surely make it in advance; just remember to warm the dish nicely so the paneer softens up again.
Spicy Chili Paneer is a very uplifting dish, the heat is balanced with the sweetness and the sticky sauce is finger licking good. I love to pair it with noodles but you can always go with fried rice too.
Pair this delicious Chili Paneer with this Vegetable Chow Mein
Spicy Chili Paneer
- 1 bunch (4.20 oz/ 120 g green onion)
- ½ red bell pepper
- 4 wax peppers/ ½ green bell pepper
- 1 red onion (3.65 oz/ 103 g)
- 3 to 4 fresh green chili
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
- 1 block (10.95 oz/ 310 g paneer)
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ cup corn flour
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1½ tablespoon soya sauce
- Finely chop the green onion. Divide the white/light green ones and the dark green ones.
- Discard the seeds of the red bell pepper and wax pepper. Dice in bite size cubes.
- Slice the onion in half and dice it into bite size cubes.
- Slit the green chilies in half.
- Dice the paneer block into bite size cubes.
- In a mixing bowl, add the paneer cubes along with the 1 teaspoon salt, chili powder and corn flour. Toss it around and do not add any water.
- Place a heavy bottom, flat non-stick skillet at medium heat and pout ½ cup of oil. Depending on the size of the pan, you will need more or less oil to shallow fry the paneer cubes. Layer the paneer cubes on the hot pan and fry the paneer for 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until it’s golden brown. Take it off the pan into a separate bowl.
- Don’t discard the remaining corn flour mixture in the bowl. Stir ½ cup of water into it and keep aside to be used later.
- You can continue cooking using the same pan or use a different pan (preferably a wok). Place the pan/wok at medium high heat and pour 2 tablespoons of oil. Once the oil heats up, drop the garlic ginger and toss. Add the onion, remaining salt, sugar and toss it again.
- In 2 minutes, add the red bell pepper, wax pepper and green chili. Toss for 3 minutes. Then, add the white/light green portion of green onion and toss for 2 minutes.
- Add the ketchup, soya sauce and drop the fried paneer cubes. Toss it around.
- Pour the corn flour-water mixture that was kept aside, plus ½ cup of water. Mix it around and cook for 2 minutes. It will turn glossy and thick.
- Garnish with the dark portion of green onion and serve immediately.