Chilli Paneer is an Indian-Chinese Style main course dish of paneer (cottage) and veggies in a tingling, sweet, spicy, and salty sauce. This restaurant-style vegetarian sauce is super easy to make at home. Serve it with fried rice or stir-fry noodles for a takeout style meal.
We, in India, love paneer and anything loaded with Indo-Chinese flavors. Chilli Paneer is the perfect combination of these two crowd charming favorites.
In the Indian sub-continent, you can easily spot chilli paneer on the menu of many restaurants or takeaway joints.
Ok, let’s get right to it. Here are the important things I have learned over the years about making an excellent Chilli Paneer:
- Try to use the fresh and best quality paneer for the dish.
- Marination is one crucial step in the making of Chilli Paneer. Marinate paneer for at-least 30 minutes before shallow frying.
- Cooking for too long is the last thing that you want to do to an Indian-Chinese dish. It has to be quickly stir-fried. So that the vegetables do not lose their crunch and the paneer is not turn chewy.
- To make little extra sauce, add 1/4 Cup of water while cooking the vegetables. Simmer the sauce until it thickens. And then add the paneer. If you prefer dry Chilli Paneer do not add more than 2 – 3 tablespoons of water.
- At last, allow the paneer, to absorb the flavor of the sauce. Let paneer sit in the pan for at least 5 – 10 minutes before serving.
My Two Secret Tips:
First, soak block of paneer in lukewarm water for 5 – 6 minutes before marinating. This way your paneer will always be super soft and moist even after shallow frying.
Second, the secret formula for making restaurant-style chilli paneer is my homemade chili paste. It is bursting with real flavors. One tablespoon of it in the gravy and you will fall in love with the taste. No store-bought sauce can give you this taste.
Follow the instructions in the recipe card to make my signature chilli paste.
Chilli Paneer is served as both snacks and main-course. The dry version of the dish is served as an appetizer.
For the main course, serve it with stir-fry noodles, fried rice, or steamed jasmine rice or sticky rice.
For a healthier version, you can serve it with boiled quinoa, brown rice, or bulgar wheat as well.
How to use leftover Chilli Paneer?
You can use the chilli paneer to make vegetarian tortilla wraps for the evening snacks and school lunchboxes.
If sandwich and wraps are so not your things, then toss the leftover chilli paneer with cooked rice and you have a fantastic one-pot meal.
To make a vegan chilli sauce, use tofu or mushroom instead of paneer like I did in this vegan tofu stir fry. Marinate, shallow-fry, and then cook the tofu/mushroom in the chilli sauce. Chilli Mushroom or tofu is a gratifying vegan meal for lunch or dinner.
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Restaurant Style Chilli Paneer Recipe
- 200 gram paneer (cottage cheese), cut into cubes
- 1 Cup diced onion
- 1 Cup diced capsicum
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 4 tablespoon cooking oil
- 2 tablespoon chopped spring onion
- Salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon cornflour (corn starch)
- 1 Cup water
Ingredients For Sauce:
- 4 dry red chilli (sabut lal mirch)
- 1 inch piece of ginger
- 1 tablespoon garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon chopped onion
- 1/4 Cup hot water
- 2 tablespoon tomato ketchup
Ingredients for the marinade
- 4 tablespoon corn flour (cornstarch)
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (maida)
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Soak paneer block in lukewarm water for 5 – 6 minutes. Later, cut into cubes. Marinate the paneer cubes in corn flour, all-purpose flour, salt, pepper, and soy sauce. Mix nicely to coat each paneer cube with the flour mixture. Add a tablespoon of water if the marinade is too thick. Set aside.
- Prepare my secret sauce. Soak dry red chili in hot water. Cover and set aside for 5 – 6 minutes for chilies to soften a bit. Later, blend the chilies along with soaked water, ginger, garlic, onion, and tomato ketchup to a smooth sauce. Set aside.
- Make a paste of cornflour and water. Mix nicely to make a lump free mixture. Set it aside till required.
Prepare Chilli Paneer:
- Heat oil in a deep frying pan. Shallow fry the marinated paneer cubes until light golden in color and crisp from both sides. Do not turn the paneer cubes again and again while frying. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- In the same pan add ginger and garlic. Stir fry for a minute. Add onion, and stir-fry over a high flame for 1 – 2 minutes or till onion soften a bit.
- Add the capsicum and sauté for a minute or so.
- Next add vinegar, soy sauce, chili sauce, salt, and mix nicely.
- Now, add the cornflour paste and stir the sauce continuously to avoid any lump formation.
- The sauce will start thickening now. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly
- Once the sauce thickens, add fried paneer cubes. Stir to combine. Allow the sauce to simmer over low heat for 5 – 6 minutes for paneer to absorb the flavor.
- Garnish the chilli paneer with chopped spring onion greens.
- Serve Chilli Paneer with fried rice.
- Recommended Equipment: Wok ( buy it here )
- Do not deep-fry the marinated paneer cubes as they become chewy and hard.
- You can prepare my secret chili sauce in advance and store in the fridge. Or the leftover sauce can also be stored in the fridge.
- The chili sauce is spicy. Hence, taste it and then add to the gravy accordingly. We love spicy food so add the entire cup.
- To adjust the consistency of the gravy add more water if required.