Chili paneer is a mouthwatering Indian-Chinese dish made with paneer and chilies. There are two versions, wet and dry. It is popularly eaten dry as an appetizer or with a little more gravy as part of a meal.
Why This Recipe
Chili paneer is one of the first dishes that comes to mind when I think of Indian Chinese. It is one of my absolute favorite foods of all time.
I developed this recipe over a decade ago when I was missing the Indian Chinese takeout food I used to get at home in Bombay. It was a favorite spot for everyone in my family. I set out to create a version of chili paneer that was just like theirs. I served this to my family and my brother, who never likes anything, loved it. My mom recently asked me for the recipe.
Chili paste – I use sambal oelek, my go-to for most Chinese recipes. Sriracha or even Korean gochujang will work, although it will give it a different flavor.
Soy sauce – a common ingredient in many Chinese foods. If you use low sodium soy sauce you may have to add salt.
Rice vinegar – this type of vinegar is used in many Chinese foods. If you don’t have it, use white vinegar.
Ketchup – ketchup is essentially herbed and sweetened tomato paste. If you don’t want to use ketchup, use tomato paste and add a little honey to balance out the acidity.
Corn Starch – corn starch helps the paneer crisp up. Dust it over the paneer before pan-frying it. It is also added as a slurry to form the gravy.
Rice wine vinegar – use white vinegar if you don’t have it.
Paneer – standard Indian cheese. I use a 14 oz package, cut into cubes. That is about 1 1/2 cups of paneer.
Serving Chili Paneer
This recipe makes the “dry” version, which is just lightly tossed in a pungent sauce. Many restaurants will serve this style of chili paneer as an appetizer.
To make the “wet” version, use 1 cup of water, and double the slurry, ketchup, soy sauce, chili paste, and rice wine vinegar.
Some people eat this with roti, but I find the combination a bit strange.
Cooking Tips and Substitutions
- Use a non-stick pan for paneer
- Make sure the slurry is made properly. To avoid clumps of corn starch, it should be mixed well at room temperature and allowed to sit for a couple of minutes.
- If you don’t want to use ketchup, use tomato paste with a little honey instead
- 14 oz paneer cubed (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 onion sliced pole to pole
- 2 medium bell peppers cut into sticks
- 1 serrano chili chopped with seeds removed.
- 1 tbsp corn starch for the paneer
- 1 tsp corn starch for the slurry
- 3 tbsp oil separated
- 1 tsp ginger grated
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tbsp chili paste (I use sambal oelek)
- 1 tbsp ketchup (optional)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- Heat a skillet with 2 tbsp oil.
- Sprinkle 1 tbsp of cornstarch onto the paneer cubes. Toss until well coated.
- In a bowl, make a slurry by mixing 1 tsp cornstarch with 1/2 cup cold water. Stir until all the lumps are removed and set aside for at least 2 minutes.
- In a non-stick pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the paneer and pan fry until golden brown. Set aside on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
- In the same pan (no need to rinse or wipe), add 1 tbsp of oil. Toss in the onions, bell peppers and a pinch of salt. Cook until soft. Add chilies.
- While the bell peppers cook,
- Add in the ginger and garlic to the onions and bell peppers. Stir. Let cook for about 30 seconds.
- Turn the heat to low and add in the cornstarch slurry. Stir.
- Add the fried paneer cubes.
- Add in the chili paste, ketchup, soy sauce and vinegar. Stir.
- Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes until all the ingredients are well combined.