Chilli paneer recipe – A restaurant style paneer chilli dry, semi-dry & gravy recipes with video & step by step photos. Chilli paneer is a popular Indo-Chinese starter made by seasoning fried Indian cottage cheese aka paneer in chilli sauce. In this post I have shared 3 versions to make the recipe – dry, semi-dry and gravy.
We love the restaurant served Indo chinese foods. But I try to limit eating them out due to the MSG and large amount of sauces used. Most times I make them at home using the best possible ingredients and without MSG.
This recipe yields one of the best chilli paneer dry, semi-dry & gravy. It pairs so well with veg fried rice, schezwan fried rice & hakka noodles, & can also be served as a appetizer.
A slightly different version of this is the Paneer manchurian recipe. A dry version goes well as a starter. While a gravy version goes well as a side dish to veg fried rice, restaurant style hakka noodles or this easy veg noodles.
The recipe of chilli paneer is quite simple & easy even for beginners. Firstly paneer is coated in corn starch batter and fried until crisp.
Then a fresh chilli sauce is made by sauteing ingredients like garlic, capsicum and spring onions. Next red chili sauce, soya sauce and vinegar are added to make the sauce.
A slurry made of corn starch is added to thicken the chilli sauce. Lastly the crisp fried paneer bites are tossed in this yummy sauce.
In restaurants the entire seasoning is made in a Chinese wok on a very high flame which lends a unique smoky flavor. So it is hard to recreate the same flavors at home.
Preparation for chilli paneer recipe
1. Add 3 tablespoons corn flour, 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (maida, optional), 1/8 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon red chilli powder and 1/8 teaspoon pepper powder to a mixing bowl.
2. Pour 5 to 6 tablespoons water and make a batter that is neither too thick nor too thin. If the batter is too runny, it will not coat the paneer. Add more water only if needed. Check video for batter consistency. Restaurant style chilli paneer has a thick coating of batter.
3. Add 200 grams cubed paneer to the batter. Then coat them well with batter.
Alternative way: If you like, you can also marinate paneer with ½ tbsp chilli sauce, ¼ tbsp soya sauce and just add some dry flour to the paneer. It can be grilled, tawa fried, shallow fried or deep fried.
4. Heat a pan with 3 to 4 tablespoons oil. Check if the oil is hot enough by adding a small portion of batter to the hot oil. It must rise up without browning. This is the correct heat.
5. Gently slide the paneer one by one spacing them apart in the oil. This prevents them from sticking to each other. Fry them on a medium high flame. Important: Spread them in the pan while frying else they stick to each other.
5. Stir well and fry evenly until golden. You may not get the golden color if you have not used chili sauce or chilli powder.
6. Drain them on a kitchen tissue or colander.
How to make chilli paneer
7. Heat 1 tbsp oil in the same pan. Or remove the excess oil from the pan and retain 1 tablespoon in it. Add 1 tablespoon garlic and saute until they smell good.
8. Switch the flame to high. Add cubed onions, spring onions greens, capsicum, sliced and deseeded chilli. Saute on a high flame till they are slightly cooked but still crunchy. While the veggies fry, go ahead to the next step.
9. For the restaurant style dry chilli paneer with glossy look – Add 1 tsp of corn flour with half cup water to a bowl. Stir well and set aside.
For a healthier version, you can even skip using corn flour like the way I did. The smooth feel of sauce and the glaze will be missing.
If you want to make the gravy version scroll down to step 15
10. Once the veggies are fried for a minute, pour 1 tablespoon soya sauce, ½ to 1 teaspoon vinegar, 1 to 2 tablespoons red chilli sauce or green chilli sauce, 2 tbsps tomato ketchup and ½ teaspoon chilli powder (optional) or paste.
11. Stir the corn flour mixture we made earlier with a spoon and pour it to the pan. If you are trying to reduce corn starch in your foods then just add 3 tbsps water here instead of corn flour slurry.
Red chilli sauce has some starch in it. So that will be enough to coat the paneer.
Then allow the sauces to bubble and thicken as well. Taste the sauce and add more salt & sauces if needed. Turn off the stove and let the sauce cool down a bit.
14. Next add ¼ teaspoon pepper powder, fried paneer, 2 tablespoons spring onion greens. If you have not used any corn slurry for the sauce then toss on a high flame for 1 to 2 minutes to bring a smoky aroma.
Garnish chilli paneer with spring onions. This picture is when I made it without cornstarch for sauce.
This one is with 1 tsp corn starch and half cup water. This is from the video.
Chilli paneer gravy
This gravy version is the same I make for chilli chicken.
15. In a small bowl, mix together 4 tablespoons chilli sauce, 2 tablespoons soya sauce, 3 tablespoons ketchup. Mix together 2 teaspoons cornstarch with 1 cup water to make a slurry. Stir well to break any lumps.
16. After sauteeing the bell peppers and onions for 2 minutes, pour sauces. Turn the flame to low, and then stir the corn slurry in the bowl with a spoon. Pour it slowly to the pan and give a good mix.
17.When the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, taste test it and add half teaspoon black pepper. Add more sauces or salt as desired. If the mixture turns too thick, then pour some hot water and stir. When the sauce is ready turn off the heat.
Cool down a bit and then add the crisp fried paneer and give a good stir. Garnish with spring onions and serve hot.
Here are some tips which will help you make the best chilli paneer at home.
Tips to make chilli paneer
- Paneer can be shallow fried, grilled or deep fried.
- Avoid over frying paneer especially on a low flame as it tends to turn hard & chewy.
- Do not use lot of chilli powder in the recipe as it totally alters the taste. Instead use a red chilli paste made of soaked red chilies.
- You can use any chilli sauce that you prefer just adjust the quantity to suit your taste.
- To make chilli paneer gravy, you can double or triple the amount of corn starch & water in the chilli paneer recipe.
- If you add more corn starch, then you will also need to add a proportionate amount of garlic, soya sauce, chilli sauce, pepper, salt, sugar and vinegar.
- 2 tsp corn starch for every 1 cup of water gives me the right consistency.
- Adding too much water to the sauce will over cook onions & capsicum making them soggy. So use additional water with caution.
- Next too much corn flour and not enough water will not yield a good tasting sauce. The corn starch turns too thick and tastes starchy.
Tips to limit refined flour
If you are a health nut like me and prefer to limit refined flour, then here are the tips I follow
- Skip all-purpose flour or maida from the recipe completely. Use wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour to make the batter.
- Sometimes I totally skip the corn starch for the sauce and just pour 3 to 4 tbsps water. As red chilli sauce already has some starch in it, adding water thins it down and helps to coat the paneer well. I have followed the same in the step by step photo method.
- Other option is to just replace corn starch (for sauce) with arrowroot powder.
- Always choose naturally brewed or organic soya sauce.
- Check the labels before you buy the red chilli sauce. Avoid those having msg & colors.
- Use organic apple cider vinegar.
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
- 200 grams paneer (cubed to ¾ by ¾ inch pieces)
- ¼ teaspoon red chilli powder (kashmiri or less spicy kind) (optional)
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch (white corn flour)
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (maida) (optional)
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper (crushed or ground)
- ⅛ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- water ( as needed)
- 3 to 4 tablespoon oil (as needed for shallow frying)
Sauce for chilli paneer recipe
- 1 tablespoon soya sauce (naturally brewed or organic)
- 2 tablespoons red chilli sauce (or 1 tbsp hot sauce or green chilli sauce)(adjust to taste)
- 2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
- ½ teaspoon vinegar (i use apple cider)
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder (or red chilli paste, optional)
- 1 teaspoon sugar (adjust to taste)
- 1 tablespoon garlic (finely chopped )
- 2 tablespoon spring onions (greens chopped )
- 2 tablespoon spring onion (whites chopped)
- ½ cup capsicum (bell pepper) cubed
- 1 medium onion (cubed, layers separated)
- 1 green chilies (slit and deseeded)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper (crushed black pepper)
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch (2 tsps for more gravy)
- ½ cup water (1 cup for more gravy) (adjust as needed)
How to make the recipe
- Add 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (optional) to a mixing bowl.
- Then add in ¼ teaspoon red chilli powder, ⅛ teaspoon crushed black pepper, ⅛ teaspoon salt and little water. Mix together to make a batter.
- Consistency: If you are health conscious and prefer to use less refined flour then make a thin batter. If you like the restaurant style chilli paneer which has a thick coating of batter, then make thick batter.
- Heat 3 to 4 tablespoons oil in a deep pan for shallow frying.
- Add 200 to 250 grams of cubed paneer and gently coat the batter.
- Check if the oil is hot enough by dropping a small portion of batter. It must rise without browning. This is the correct temperature.
- Pick up each batter coated paneer with a spoon and gently slide them in the hot oil. Space them apart from each other, do not crowd. Do not disturb them for a minute or until the batter firms up.
- Stir and fry them on a medium heat on all the sides until crispy. Drain to a kitchen tissue or a steel colander.
- Option 1 – For dry chilli paneer : Stir in 1 tsp cornstarch to a bowl and mix with half cup water. Stir well & set aside. To another small cup, add 2 tbsps chilli sauce, 1 tbsp soya sauce, 2 tbsps ketchup, 1 tsp sugar, half tsp vinegar and half tsp red chilli powder (optional). Set this aside.
- Option 2 – For chilli paneer gravy : Add 2 tsp corn flour & 1 cup water to a bowl. Stir well and make a lump free slurry. Keep aside. Add in 2 tablespoon soya sauce, 4 tbsp chilli sauce, 1 teaspoon of vinegar, 3 tablespoons tomato ketchup and little more salt & sugar. For color add ¾ tsp red chilli powder. Stir well and set this aside.
How to make chilli paneer
- Remove excess oil from the fry pan retaining 1 tbsp. Fry one tablespoon finely chopped garlic until it smells good.
- Then add in 2 tablespoons of spring onion whites and 1 medium onion cubed & layers separated.
- Also add in 1 slit green chili and half cup diced capsicum. Saute on a high flame for 2 mins.
- Stir the prepared sauce in the bowl and pour it to the pan.
- Next stir the prepared corn slurry and pour it to the pan. Mix every thing & cook on a medium heat till the sauce thickens.
- Check the taste of the sauce. You can add more sauces or salt if you wish to adjust to your taste.
- If you want to thin down the sauce, just add some hot water to get the desired consistency. Turn off the heat and cool down slightly.
- Add crushed black pepper & fried paneer cubes to the chilli sauce and mix. Add the spring onion greens.
NUTRITION (estimation only)
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
If you are new to cooking, follow my detailed step by step photo instructions for best results.