Spice up your next meal with this delicious and easy-to-make chilli paneer recipe! Chilli paneer (or paneer chili) is a popular Indo-Chinese dish made by tossing crispy-fried cottage cheese in a spicy and tangy sauce. This popular paneer dish is one of the favorite street foods in India and is also a part of restaurant menus.
Best of all, this recipe gives you a restaurant-quality taste without any of the artificial ingredients or preservatives commonly found in Indo-Chinese foods from restaurants. This customizable and healthy meal option is perfect for any occasion. Follow my step-by-step instructions for the ultimate restaurant-style chili paneer experience!
About this recipe
Chilli paneer is a delicious Indo-Chinese appetizer loved and devoured by many. Also called paneer chilli, it is a popular street food and is also a part of restaurant menus. Chilli paneer is easy to make and can be done in 20 minutes once the prep work is completed. This versatile paneer chili is a must-try for your next party, gathering, or game day. This cheese chilli can also be served as a side dish with Hakka noodles, vegetable fried rice, egg fried rice, or another Indo-Chinese main course for a complete meal.
There are two steps in making this mouthwatering paneer chilli - first, batter-fry the cottage cheese, and second, make the chilli sauce using aromatics, veggies, and Chinese sauces in which the batter-fried paneer is tossed. I am including all tips and tricks and stepwise instructions to make the BEST restaurant style chilli paneer recipe.
There are two versions of chili paneer - a dry version and one with gravy or sauce. This recipe here is the dry version. I have included the instructions below on how to make the gravy version of chili paneer.
Why you will love this recipe
- Flavorful: This cheese chilli is spicy, hot, and delicious, with bold flavors. It is a fantastic way to enjoy street food in the comfort of your own home.
- Versatile: Chili paneer can be served as an appetizer or as a side dish with other Indo-Chinese main courses like noodles, fried rice, or even as a sandwich filling.
- Quick and easy: This chilli paneer recipe can be prepared in just 20 minutes, making it a quick and easy dish to make at home.
- Restaurant-quality minus the nasties: This easy chili paneer recipe gives you restaurant-quality flavor, yet is free from the artificial ingredients and preservatives that are commonly found in Indo-Chinese foods from restaurants.
- Customizable: You can adjust this chilli paneer recipe to suit individual taste preferences by adjusting the level of spice, sweetness, and tanginess in the sauce. It can also be made with different vegetables like mushrooms, bell peppers, or baby corn.
Paneer: Use store-bought or homemade paneer. This dish tastes best with fresh paneer (Indian cottage cheese).
Flour: I use all-purpose flour and cornstarch for the batter to deep fry paneer.
Vegetables: I use bell peppers (red and green), onions, and scallions (spring onions). I also use slit green chili peppers.
Sauces: I use soy sauce, rice vinegar, tomato ketchup, and hot chili sauce. You can use either light or dark soy sauce.
Aromatics: I use finely chopped ginger and garlic.
How to make chilli paneer
Step 1: In a large bowl, combine together the flour, cornstarch, and salt. Add little water and mix well to form a thick batter. Start with ¼ cup of water and add more if needed. Coat the paneer cubes in the mixture (image 1).
Step 2: Heat oil in a pan. Dip the cubes of paneer in the batter and deep fry until it is golden brown. Place the paneer pieces on a paper towel to drain excess oil and set the crispy paneer aside (images 2 and 3).
Step 3: In a small bowl, combine the sauces needed for the stir fry - one tablespoon each of soya sauce, vinegar, red chilli sauce, and tomato ketchup (tomato sauce). Mix well and set it aside (image 4).
Step 4: In another pan or wok, heat 2 tablespoons of oil. Saute ginger and garlic for one minute (image 5).
Step 5: Add red onion, bell pepper, and green chillies. Stir fry on high heat for 1-2 minutes (images 6 and 7).
Step 6: Add the prepared sauce mixture, salt, and black pepper powder (image 8).
Step 7: Saute for one minute (image 9). It should be sauteed on high heat.
Step 8: Add the fried paneer and stir fry for one minute (images 10 and 11). Turn off the heat and garnish with green onion (image 12).
Serve hot and spicy chili paneer with noodles or fried rice.
Chilli paneer dry versus gravy
This easy recipe here is the dry version of chili paneer. You will need vegetable stock (or water) for the gravy chili paneer recipe. Follow these steps if you want to make the gravy version:
- Deep fry the paneer in hot oil as per this recipe.
- Do the other prep works as per this recipe - chop the veggies, measure and mix the sauces, and finely chop ginger and garlic.
- Combine one tablespoon of corn starch in a mixing bowl with three tablespoons of water. Set the cornstarch slurry aside.
- Stir fry ginger and garlic on high heat for one minute. Add onion, red and green capsicums, and green chilies. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes on high heat.
- Add the prepared sauce mixture, salt, and pepper. Mix well on medium heat.
- Add one cup of vegetable stock and bring it to a rolling boil. Add the corn flour slurry and simmer for 1-2 minutes until the mixture thickens.
- Add the fried paneer cubes and mix well. Toss them on high heat for one minute.
- Garnish the cheese chilli with spring onion greens and serve.
Pro-tip: Use vegetable stock (and not water) to make the gravy chilli paneer tasty and flavorful.
Keep all the ingredients ready and handy before you start making the stir fry. Chop the vegetables, measure and mix the sauces, and fry the paneer pieces before you begin tossing them in the sauces.
Stir-fry the vegetables for 2-3 minutes only on high heat. Do not cover them. They should have a crunch in them and get a slight char.
Chinese cooking is done on high flame very quickly. Stir-frying on high heat produces the characteristic smoky flavor - but take care not to burn the food.
Soy sauce is quite salty. So adjust the salt level accordingly. Also, you can add red chilli powder or green chilli sauce to make a spicy sauce for chilli paneer.
I add tomato ketchup to balance the intense flavors and also add a mild sweetness to this cheese chilli. This is optional and can be skipped.
You can also shallow fry the paneer instead of deep frying to make chilli paneer, although it will not taste like the authentic street-style version.
As per this recipe, cook chicken cubes and add them to the stir fry to make chilli chicken.
Make a vegan version of this recipe by replacing paneer with this salt and pepper tofu and tossing the tofu in spicy chili sauce.
More Indo-Chinese recipes
Indo-Chinese or Indian Chinese food is a distinct fusion cuisine where Chinese sauces, seasoning, and cooking techniques are adapted to Indian taste buds. Popularly known as Desi Chinese, they are one of India's most famous forms of street food and not remotely close to authentic Chinese cuisine.
It is believed that this style of cooking originated from a Chinese settlement in Kolkata, India. This fiery food fusion has pungent Chinese sauces like soy sauce and vinegar combined with very Indian flavors like ginger, garlic, and chili, making the most unique-tasting dishes. This form of cooking is an integral part of Indian cuisine.
Here are some recipes that are easy to make and perfect for an Indo-Chinese night.
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Chilli Paneer (Street-style Chili Paneer)
- 10 oz paneer (300 grams)
For the batter paneer:
For the stir-fry:
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 1 inch ginger finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 medium bell pepper cubed
- 1 medium onion cubed
- 3-4 green chili slit
- 1 tablespoon scallion whites chopped
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chili sauce
- 2 tablespoon tomato ketchup
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- 2 tablespoon scallion greens for garnish
Prep for stir fry:
- Cube the onion and pepper. Finely chop ginger and garlic.
- Slit the green chili. Chop the onion, bell peppers, and scallions (white and greens).
- In a small bowl, combine the sauces needed for the stir fry - one tablespoon each of soy sauce, vinegar, chili sauce, and tomato ketchup. Mix well and set it aside.
Make the batter and fry paneer:
- Cut the paneer into cubes.
- In a large bowl, combine together the flour, cornstarch, and salt. Add little water and mix well to form a thick batter. Start with ¼ cup of water and add more if needed.
- Coat the paneer cubes in the mixture.
- Heat oil in a pan. Dip the paneer pieces in the batter and deep fry until it is golden brown.
- Drain them on a paper towel and set them aside.
- In another pan or wok, heat 2 tablespoons of oil. Saute ginger and garlic for one minute.
- Add onion, bell pepper, and green chili. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes on high heat.
- Add the prepared sauce mixture, salt, and pepper. Saute for one minute.
- Add the fried paneer and stir fry for one minute.
- Turn off the heat and garnish with green onion.
- Serve hot with noodles or fried rice.