5 days of cooking - Day 1 - Chilli Paneer

Chatting through meal plans, cooking tips and favourite recipes with colleagues at work recently has rejuvenated my love for cooking. Ive previously written about my favourite baking endeavours which I revisit regularly to remind myself of the recipes so thought Id do the same but for meals/dishes I enjoy making. Stay tuned for a different recipe each day for the next 5 days.

Chilli Paneer

For those of you who dont know, paneer is an Indian cheese most similar to cottage cheese. It has a sort of rubbery texture like halloumi once cooked and can be served in a variety of ways either dry or as a curry, as a main or a side dish. My favourite way to eat paneer is as a side dish or starter as Chilli Paneer. It essentially consists of cubed paneer with onions, peppers, chilli and other spices. I prefer it as a thick but saucy dish with slices of crunchy onion and peppers in. Although Im sure plenty of people in my family could have talked me through how to make this, I first made it myself when I was at uni, so needed some guidance from trusty old google, which brought me to this BBC Good Food recipe. I have adapted it to my taste although Im sure its different every time I do it, so forgive me if its not to your taste.

Step 1:

  • Coat cubed paneer in cornflour

You can buy paneer from most big supermarkets it lives with the speciality cheeses like halloumi and brie. You can also buy it from Asian shops (of which Luton has plenty) and it can come either as a big block or already cut into cubes.

Step 2:

paneer peppers

if you dont have or dont like red onions, normal ones will do just fine

Prepare the vegetables

  • 1 Brown onion finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves of garlic finely chopped or crushed
  • Green chilli number depends on how spicy you like things chopped
  • 1 Red onion sliced
  • Variety of peppers cubed

I tend to use enough red onion and peppers to equal the amount of paneer but this is up to you.

Step 3:

The frying fun begins:

NB: frying chilli can often release an invisible fume type thing which can really irritate your airways, I just put up with the coughing but if it bothers you too much add a bit more oil or skip the step where youve just got chilli in the pan and fry everything together

  • Fry chopped onion, garlic and chilli in a pan with some oil until the onions are soft and starting to brown

paneer onions

cue the coughing

  • add the paneer and a bit more oil if its sticking and fry until golden

Step 4

The magical flavours arrive

This is step is a bit trial and error and the quantities can be adjusted to taste I promise I wont be offended if you decide to change it up but please let me know how it goes..I love a bit of feedback.

Add the following ingredients whilst continuing to mix the paneer:

  • half a tube of tomato puree
  • 4 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 heaped tea spoon garam masala
  • 3 tea spoons ground coriander
  • 3 tea spoons ground cumin (if you dont have ground, you can use cumin seeds but add them at the start with the onions)
  • salt to taste

Once Im happy with the flavour I like to add some water, to create a consistency a bit wetter than that of the final product. Now, if youve never had chilli paneer before or you dont know how you like it, then imagine the consistency of sticky chicken wings or bbq ribs thats what I aim for by the end.

paneer consistency

think: just a bit thinner than sticky chicken wings

Step 5

Adding a bit of crunch

You could stop there if you dont like or dont have peppers and red onion. but I love the added crunch of the veggies.

  • add the peppers and sliced onion and fry for another 5-ish minutes (or until the peppers are at the desired soft/crunchiness

Ideally youd serve as soon as its ready, but I have been known to make paneer and then heat it though on the hob when Im ready to serve it. If Im being really fancy Ill garnish it with some chopped spring onion.


The finished product

My favourite way to eat chilli paneer is as a starter, side dish or as part of a tapas style meal with other snacky foods like wings, seekh kebabs, pakora, samosa etc. You can eat it on its own or with naan or pitta or even as a whole main dish, or with a curry. Its versatility is probably one of the reasons I love it so much. That, and its super tasty!

Stay tuned for my next recipe Cheesy Chicken, Chorizo and Broccoli pasta bake!

Until next time,

Anya xo

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