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.
Both versions go well with rice or noodles. You can serve it with plain basmati rice, or make fried rice. Serve it alongside other Indian Chinese dishes, like Chicken Manchurian.
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.
Oh my gosh, this is beautiful! Great photography – my mouth is watering just looking at this! Pretty much anything that involves sambal oelek gets my heart going pitter-patter, but this especially 🙂
Thank you so much Lori! I love sambal oelek too! 🙂
This looks like such a great fusion dish! A lot of the Indian restaurant around here have an Indo-Chinese section to their menus so I’ve tried a few of the dishes and they’re always delicious =)
Thanks Peggy! I love that more and more Indian restaurants in America are adding an Indo-Chinese section. 🙂
Looks delicious! Both Indian and Chinese restaurants are very popular in Berlin, but I have bever seen or tasted a fusion. Thank’s for the inspiration.
Thank you Claudia! Do let me know if you make some Indian-Chinese food.
Yum looks too appetizing and lovely clicks, esp the 1st one 🙂
Thanks Divya! 🙂
I just made this and it was SO good and really easy! Thanks for the recipe!
Thanks Caitlin! I am so happy you made the recipe and that you liked it. It’s one of my all time favorites! 🙂
seems to be an interesting combination.. Never tried such a combo.. This recipe is added to TRY-IT-YOURSELF list. 🙂