Paneer Manchurian is a delicious Indo-Chinese appetizer consisting of crisp fried Paneer (Indian cheese) in a slightly tangy & umami-rich Manchurian sauce. If you are a paneer and Manchurian lover, this is a must try for the next meal or a party. Cubes of paneer are coated with a thick spiced batter and fried to perfection. Later these are dunked in a freshly made delicious manchurian sauce. Though paneer can be shallow fried, air fried or baked, deep frying gives the best results of pillowy soft paneer with a super crisp coating. In this post I share how to make restaurant style Paneer Manchurian along with no fry options.
While you can find the semi dry version most commonly served in restaurants, there are also the dry and gravy variations. Dry & semi-dry Paneer Manchurian can be eaten straight as an appetizer and you just don’t need any side.
The semi-dry version is good to serve with Hakka noodles, Vegetable noodles, and flat bread or simply eat as a side in any meal. The gravy version has plenty of thick sauce, it is mostly eaten with Fried rice though you can serve it with plain basmati rice.
About Paneer Manchurian
Paneer Manchurian bears several resemblances with Chilli paneer. The use of tomato ketchup (sauce) along with a higher quantity of soya sauce is what sets the manchurian apart from chilli. This totally gives the Manchurian dishes a special umami-rich punch.
A lot of Indo-Chinese dishes served in restaurants are slapped with plenty of soya sauce that makes you feel full and dehydrated. MSG is another key ingredient used to elevate the flavors.
This homemade Paneer Manchurian has the right amount of soya sauce and other aromatics that won’t leave you dehydrated. Also it is made without MSG. It is very flavorful and packs a punch in every bite. If you try this once I am sure you won’t order it anywhere.
In this post I show how to make a semi-dry dish and also tips to make the other gravy version. It is up to you regarding the frying, but deep fried paneer cubes turn out the best.
For best results, read my pro tips section below where I share everything about getting the restaurant flavors, substituting refined flours, soya sauce and more.
No Fry Paneer Manchurian
These days, to make it much simpler I have been making paneer manchurian without even frying the paneer. This version gets ready under 12 to 15 mins & tastes fantastic. I have shared the same in this Chilli Mushroom recipe.
Paneer has a melt-in-the-mouth texture, coated with a delicious silky sauce. All you will miss is the crunch from the coating. Plus lesser oil and lesser refined flour!
How to Make Paneer Manchurian (Stepwise pics)
1. Heat oil in a kadai for deep frying. I use about 1.5 cups for frying. You can use as much as you want depending on the size of your kadai. If you want to pan fry, skip to the pan frying section below.
2. To a mixing bowl add
¼ cup all-purpose flour (prefer organic flour)
3 tablespoons corn flour (corn starch or rice flour)
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder. (I just used it for color).
3. Mix well. Pour water little by little and make a batter that is neither too thick nor too thin. (Check video to see the consistency)
4. Add 200 grams paneer cubes.
5. Coat them well with the batter.
6. Test the oil if it is hot enough by dropping a small portion of batter to it. It should sizzle and rise to the surface without browning. This is the correct temperature. Coat each paneer cube in batter and gently drop one after the other to the hot oil. You can drop them using a spoon or fingers. If your oil is not hot enough they will stick to each other. Do not crowd the kadai with a lot of paneer pieces.
7. Do not disturb for a few minutes. When they turn light golden, stir them and fry until golden and crisp. Remove them to a steel colander once done.
8. Add 1 teaspoon corn flour (corn starch) to a small bowl and mix it with 1/2 to 3/4 cup water. You can replace corn flour with arrowroot powder. Make sure there are no lumps in the mixture. Set this aside.
Make Paneer Manchurian
9. Heat a pan or wok on high heat with 1 tbsp oil in it. Saute ½ to ¾ tbsp ginger and ½ to ¾ tbsp garlic for a minute.
10. Add ¼ cup chopped spring onions. Saute for a minute.
11. Add ¼ to ½ cup capsicum and saute for another 1 to 2 mins. Then pour 1½ tbsps soya sauce. I have used regular organic soya sauce. If using dark or light soya sauce you will have to adjust accordingly as per your preference.
12. Next add 2 tablespoons tomato sauce (ketchup) and 1 teaspoon sugar. You will have to skip or add more sugar depending on your sauce. Mine was slightly sweet and sour, so 1 tsp works out well.
13. Lower the heat. Stir the corn flour mixture with a spoon and pour it to the pan. Mix it well. Add more water if needed to bring the sauce to a consistency.
14. Check the taste at this stage. Add little salt, ½ to ¾ teaspoon black pepper and ½ to ¾ teaspoon vinegar. You can skip vinegar if the mixture already has an hint of sourness. I used apple cider vinegar.
15. Cook the sauce stirring continuously until it thickens a bit. This will just take a minute or two. The sauce thickens further after cooling, so when it is slightly thick but still of pouring consistency, turn off the stove. (Check video for consistency.)
16. Let the sauce cool down a bit, then add fried paneer. Mix it well to coat the paneer with manchurian sauce. Add Spring onion greens.
Serve paneer manchurian hot and immediately after preparing with or without a side. Noodles or fried rice goes well.
Pan Fry Paneer
To a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon soya sauce, 2 teaspoons tomato ketchup, little sugar and mix well.
Add your paneer to this and mix well.
Add 1 tablespoon corn starch, 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour and half teaspoon black pepper. Gently mix well to coat the paneer. If the mixture is too dry splash some water.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small pan and place the paneer pieces, making sure they don’t touch each other. You have to be patient with this method as it takes some time for the paneer to get the crisp texture. After frying paneer in 2 batches add this to the prepared manchurian sauce.
Here are my top tips for a great tasting paneer manchurian.
Carbon Steel Wok: If you want to replicate the restaurant Chinese flavors, use a carbon steel wok. Stir frying the aromatics like spring onions, ginger, garlic in a wok, at a highest heat is what makes the Chinese restaurant foods taste so good. This imparts a very unique aroma to the dishes. If you do not have one, a cast iron wok also works but make sure you transfer the food immediately after cooking.
Soya Sauce: Manchurian dishes require higher amount of soya sauce. If you cut down the quantity you won’t get the same flavors. An good substitute for soya sauce is Tamari. If you don’t eat soy products then this dish may not be for you. Coconut aminos or liquid aminos work in a pinch but won’t taste the taste like what you get in Indo-Chinese restaurants.
Refined Flour: I have made this recipe many times by replacing corn-starch and all-purpose flour with rice flour and wheat flour. They work very well but the crunch, flavor and taste is not the same. Also note that the manchurian sauce masks all of the rice and wheat flour flavors, so we are okay with it.
No-Fry Paneer Manchurian: For this version make the sauce and add the paneer (non-fried) cubes right into the hot manchurian sauce. Turn off the stove, Stir and cover. Set aside for 5 mins so the paneer absorbs the flavors. For this version, cut the paneer to smaller pieces so you won’t feel them bland.
Paneer Manchurian Recipe
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 200 grams paneer (Indian cottage cheese)
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour (maida) (prefer organic flour)
- 3 tablespoons corn flour (corn starch or rice flour)
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon red chilli powder (optional) replace with pepper powder
- Water as needed to make batter
- Oil for frying
Making manchurian sauce
- 1 tablespoon oil olive or sesame oil
- ½ to ¾ tablespoon garlic minced
- ½ to ¾ tablespoon ginger minced
- ¼ cup spring onion whites chopped
- ¼ to ½ cup capsicum chopped or bell pepper
- 1 teaspoon corn flour (corn starch or arrowroot powder)
- ½ cup water (you may need little more, use as needed)
- 1 ½ tablespoons soya sauce (use naturally brewed or organic, I used kikkoman)
- 2 tablespoons tomato sauce (I used homemade sauce)
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon vinegar (use only if needed to give a mild tang)
- Salt as needed (use only if needed, I used about ¼ tsp)
- 2 tablespoons Spring onion greens
Option 1 – Deep Frying
- Prepare all the ingredients for making the sauce and set aside. Heat oil in a kadai for deep frying paneer.
- While the oil heats, add corn flour, maida, salt and chilli powder to a bowl. Add water just enough to make a free flowing yet thick batter. The consistency must be moderately thick, not too thick or too runny.
- Test if the oil is hot by dropping a small portion of the batter to the oil. It should immediately sizzle and come up to the surface without turning brown. This is the right temperature.
- Dip the paneer cubes in the batter and gently drop to the hot oil. Do not disturb them for a minute or 2 until the coating set firmly over the paneer.
- Stir often and fry on a medium heat until golden and crisp. Remove them to a steel colander.
Option 2 – No Fry Paneer
- To a mixing bowl add 1 tablespoon soya sauce, 2 teaspoons ketchup (tomato sauce), little sugar and mix well. Add paneer and give a good stir.
- To a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon corn starch, 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour and 2 to 3 pinches of black pepper. Mix together and sprinkle all over the paneer.
- Coat the paneer well with the flour. If the mixture is too dry, sprinkle little water. Each piece of paneer should be well coated with a thick batter.
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in a non-stick pan. When the oil turns hot, place each piece in the oil, each atleast an inch apart. Fry until crisp on both the sides, turning to the other after one side turns golden.
- To air fry, place them on a sheet and air fry for 6 to 8 mins at 350 F or 180 C, turn the pieces and air fry for another 5 mins.
How to Make Paneer Manchurian
- Add 1 teaspoon corn starch to a bowl and add ½ cup water. Mix and make a lump free slurry. Keep this aside.
- Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a wok. Regulate the flame to high. Add ginger garlic and saute for a min for the nice aroma to comes out.
- Next add spring onion whites and fry for a min or two. Add capsicum and saute for another minute.
- Pour soya sauce, tomato sauce and corn slurry. Make sure you stir the corn slurry once before pouring to the pan.
- Add more water if needed. Reduce the flame to medium and add sugar. Stir and check the taste test.
- Add black pepper, salt and vinegar if needed. Let the sauce boil and cook down to a thick consistency.
- Add the fried paneer and spring onion greens. Toss the paneer in the sauce well to coat evenly.
- Serve paneer manchurian hot with noodles or fried rice.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Paneer Manchurian recipe first published in October 2017. Updated & Republished in May 2022.