‘Paneer Chilly’ is a very popular vegetarian dish made using fresh Paneer (Cottage Cheese) and Green Capsicum. It may be served as a quick, delicious snack or even as a curry with warm noodles. It belongs to the unique ‘Indo-Chinese’ cuisine that’s developed over the years in restaurants and street food stalls across India. The Chinese have likely never heard of this dish and you’ll probably find it only in the Indian subcontinent ☺ Together with Schezwan Fried Rice, Manchurian and Hakka Noodles, this Paneer Chilly is a favourite recipe that we make time and again, whenever we’re in the mood for some ‘Chinese’ food!
The Paneer Chilly can be made as simple or complex as you like. Some people add a lot more ingredients to the recipe, including Pepper Powder and Vinegar. The Paneer cubes may also be deep-fried for a more flavourful but lethal variation of the dish. We’ve taken one of the simplest routes we could find to make a quick, easy Paneer Chilly that’s done in half an hour, ready to be savoured either on its own or with platefuls of hot, steaming noodles.
Paneer Chilly Recipe
- 250g Paneer (Cottage Cheese)
- 1 large Green Capsicum
- 1-inch piece of Ginger
- 1 whole bulb of Garlic
- 1 large Onion
- 1/3 cup Tomato Ketchup (preferably the Spicy variety)
- 3 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour (Maida)
- 2 tablespoons Corn Flour
- 1 teaspoon Turmeric (Haldi) Powder
- 1 teaspoon Red Chilli Powder, or to taste
- Salt, to taste
- 5-6 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
- 4 tablespoons Soya Sauce
- 4 tablespoons Hoisin Sauce (or Oyster Sauce; or Red Chilli Sauce & Green Chilli Sauce as per taste)
Chop the Green Capsicum and Onion into 1/2-inch chunks and keep aside.
Finely chop the Garlic cloves and Ginger and keep aside.
Dice the Paneer into 1/2-inch cubes and place in a large bowl.
To the Paneer, add the All-Purpose Flour, Corn Flour, 2 tablespoons Soya Sauce and 3 tablespoons Hoisin Sauce (or Oyster Sauce). The Hoisin Sauce (or Oyster Sauce) may be substituted with 3 tablespoons Red Chilli Sauce and 2 tablespoons Green Chilli Sauce. Gently coat the cubes of Paneer with this mixture and allow to rest for ten minutes.
Heat 2 tablespoons of Vegetable Oil in a shallow, non-stick frying pan. Add the Paneer cubes to the hot oil and sauté on medium heat until the cubes turn a lovely golden-brown colour. Be sure to keep turning the cubes in the hot oil so that they colour evenly and do not burn. Once the Paneer has turned a deep golden-brown colour, drain the cubes on a plate lined with some kitchen roll or tissue.
Heat 3-4 tablespoons Vegetable Oil in a large, heavy-bottomed, non-stick pan. Add the chunks of Onion to the hot oil and sauté on medium heat, stirring often, until the onion turns translucent.
Once the Onion had turned translucent, add in the finely chopped Garlic and Ginger. Sauté on medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
Add in the chunks of Green Capsicum and continue to sauté on medium heat for a few minutes. Then cover the pan, reduce the flame to low and allow the Capsicum chunks to steam just until they are cooked but still crunchy in texture (this should take about 6-7 minutes).
Add the Tomato Ketchup, 2 tablespoons Soya Sauce, 1 tablespoon Hoisin Sauce (or Oyster/ Chilli Sauce) and sauté on medium flame, stirring to coat all the chunks of Capsicum and Onion.
Add the Turmeric Powder, Red Chilli Powder and Salt to the Capsicum-Onion mixture, stirring well. Let the mixture bubble on medium heat for a couple of minutes.
Then add in the cubes of Paneer and give the entire mixture a good stir. Allow this mixture to bubble on medium heat, stirring often so that the mixture does not burn. Sauté until the cubes of Paneer are coated well with the sauces and the mixture looks fairly dry.
The Paneer Chilly tastes best when relished piping hot, especially as an appetiser and is great to serve at parties. It may also be served as a Curry to accompany hot noodles or some warm, steamed rice.
The Hoisin Sauce (or Oyster Sauce) may be replaced by Red Chilli Sauce and Green Chilli Sauce. Add in as much of the quantity of the Chilli Sauces that suit your taste. We’ve found that Ching’s is a great brand of Chilli Sauces to try out.
Paneer Chilly may be served as a great party appetiser. After adding the cubes of Paneer to the Capsicum-Onion mixture, simply sauté on medium heat, until the sauces have reduced and the mixture looks fairly dry.
Paneer Chilly may also be served as a Curry with hot noodles or steamed rice. Simply add about 1/2 a cup of water to the Capsicum-Onion mixture, cover the pan and allow to bubble for 4-5 minutes on medium heat. The water will combine with the sauces to form a curry. Add in the crispy, golden-brown cubes of Paneer and allow the mixture to bubble for just 2-3 minutes until the curry begins to thicken. Serve immediately so as to retain the crispy texture of the Paneer.
The recipe can very easily be scaled up to make enough Paneer Chilly for a larger crowd. The best way to get the most flavour is to keep tasting the mixture as you go, adding sauces or condiments as per taste.