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Chai Time: Spicy Chilli Paneer Chai Time: Spicy Chilli Paneer

Chai Time: Spicy Chilli Paneer

Spicy Chilli Paneer: a Desi-Chinese classic! No two countries cuisines have ever come together is such a glorious mash-up as Desi-Chinese (aka Indo-Chinese) khana. Every dhaba, canteen, and restaurant has at least a page or two of the menu devoted to delightfully strange names such as Lung Fung Soup, American Chop Suey, Gobi Machurian, Hakka Noodles, Chicken Chilly Fry, and one of Meherwan Irani's faves - Chilli Paneer.
This recipe was perfected by our Culinary Director Daniel Peach and is often on rotation at our sister restaurant Chai Pani in Asheville, NC and Decatur, GA. If you wanna make homemade paneer at home, check out our "Easy Peasy Paneer" recipe. Or do what Meherwan did and order some superb paneer from our friends at Sach Foods.


Grapeseed or avocado oil
½ cup red onion, roughly chopped
½ cup green bell peppers
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs ginger, minced
4-5 thin slices of green chilli pepper
5-6 fresh curry leaves
1/4 tsp Spicewalla Kashmiri Chilli Powder
½ tsp Spicewalla Roasted Coriander Powder
2 Tbs rice wine vinegar
2 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbs sweet chilli sauce (we love Maggi)
Pinch of granulated sugar
6 oz paneer, cubed
Fresh cilantro for garnish
Fresh ginger for garnish

For the batter:
½ cup AP flour
¼ cup Cornstarch
Spicewalla Table Ground Black Pepper, to taste
 Salt, to taste
1 Tbs ginger-garlic paste*

*Ginger-Garlic Paste: Blend equal amounts of peeled garlic and peeled fresh ginger (1/4 cup of each) into a coarse paste in a food processor - a few drops of oil will help it blend smoothly. Will keep refrigerated in a glass jar for at least a month. (If you don’t have a food processor, finely grate or mince a tablespoon each of ginger and garlic and mix together). This stuff is gold - it makes a great base rub on chicken, fish and meats! 


  1. Heat 1 tsp of oil In a small saute pan over medium-high heat, add the red onions and green bell peppers and saute until slightly softened and beginning to take on some color, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

  2. In a small saucepot heat 1 tsp of oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, cook until golden, about 1 minute. Add ginger, green chilli and curry leaves and Kashmiri Chilli Powder and Roasted Coriander Powder, stir and cook for another 2 minutes. 

  3. Add the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce. Add the red onions and bell peppers, stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for another 3-4 minutes. Add a few tablespoons of warm water and continue to simmer until thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.

  4. Make the batter: In a mixing bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper. Add water, a few tablespoons at a time until the batter is smooth and the consistency of thin pancake batter. Stir in the ginger garlic paste. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

  5. Add paneer to the bowl of batter and toss to coat.

  6. Heat 1 cup of oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Pick up each piece of paneer out of the batter and let excess drip off before placing in the pan. Fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning paneer over halfway through to fry both sides. Remove from the oil and place on a paper towel. 

  7. Place the paneer in a small saute pan, add a few spoonfuls of the chilli sauce and saute together over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes.

  8. Serve immediately with fresh cilantro and ginger. Enjoy!

1 Comment

  • This was so easy and delicious! I loved the crisp-tender texture of the paneer in the sauce. Used half the oil and substituted red pepper jelly for the sweet chili sauce, but otherwise made as written.

    Zina on

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