Does anyone remember Sakoni’s hakka noodles? They were the stuff Ealing Road trips were made of. I remember my first taste of Indo-Chinese food a long while ago, before it made its way to countless menus. It was so new and exotic at one point, the paneer they served up with so much soy sauce,
so much MSG, so soft on the inside, crispy on the outside. Soon, chilli paneer became something you could easily re-create at home. An Indian dish you can make in 20 mins with things you already have in your kitchen. I’ve always loved paneer – when I was little, my mum would slip me plain, fried paneer before she put it in its sauce, and even now, when I stir fry the main ingredient, I always sneak a few plain pieces in for myself.
This chilli paneer recipe is in no way new, but I promise you it is easy, and multi-purpose. You can take it to dinner parties, pot-luck gatherings, make it as a quick and easy weeknight dish, feed it to kids…and, it’s so fool-proof, you can make it for your in-laws. I like it a little healthier so we can have it more often, so I won’t be double frying these in cornflour, but I think most people like it that way nowadays anyway and this in no way compromises on taste.
H isn’t a fan of paneer. He’s a die-hard meat eater and won’t touch paneer shak (curry) but he actually asks for this. I took it to one of the first times I met his parents and he’s had it on his request list ever since. That’s how I know a recipe is worth sharing.
Mmm…paneer. So soft and bouncy.
To feed four hungry mouths (who can take chill) you will need:
Two blocks paneer, cut into cubes
1/4 cup soy sauce (I use light soy, go for the normal one if you want a heavier taste)
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2-3/4 teaspoons chilli powder
2 small green chillies
1 heaped tablespoon garlic and ginger paste
1 onion (red or white)
2 fresh tomatoes
Coriander/dhana (for dressing)
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons oil
Heat the oil in a wok. Once heated, add the chopped paneer. Let it cook until it starts to brown. Remove the browned paneer from the pan (don’t take the oil with it; you can re-use that for the rest of the ingredients) and place on a separate dish covered in tissue to mop up the excess oil.
Return to your wok. Add the green chilli, onion, peppers and garlic-ginger paste. Once the onions are translucent, add in your peppers and chopped tomatoes. Cook for another few minutes – the tomatoes should start to melt into the onions and the pepper should go soft. Add the paneer back in to the wok, followed by the soy, ketchup and chilli powder. Mix all ingredients to ensure everything gets a good coating of soy-ketchup and cook for another five – seven minutes.
I usually make this an hour in advance – I find letting it sit lets all the spice, ginger and soy meld into each other, but whatever you do, serve it super-hot.