Who says vegetarian is lame?
I have to admit, I always viewed vegetarian food as a bit of a bummer with tasteless tofu and stupid quinoa bowls. Yes, a meatless meal made with sustainable local produce is more environmentally and socially responsible but come on….who really likes tempeh????? It tastes like a litter box!
That’s why when it comes to vegetarian food, I look to the masters of meatless cooking, aka Indian cuisine. No one can work lentils, paneer, chickpeas and dairy products into a satisfying meal quite like Indian chefs. Coated in spice and hearty to boot, their vegetarian food is anything but dull. It is a way of life and how to live life-with color and flavor.
Did you say fried cheese????
This Chili Paneer dish of fried cheese stir-fried with vegetables and coated in a garlicky sweet and sour sauce is a fine example of how to do vegetarian cooking right. Chili paneer is an Indo-Chinese classic recipe where the best of Chinese cooking and the best of Indian cuisine come together. I tend to do this dish a little differently by coating the paneer in a batter which I find better soaks up the sauce but if you are inclined to be healthier and forego frying the cheese, then go for it.
Chili Paneer is an Indo-Chinese classic dish of fried paneer stir-fried with chopped bell peppers and scallions then coated in a sweet and sour sauce.. #vegetarian #cheese #Indian #Chinese #stirfry
- a medium to large chunk of paneer
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 bell pepper (whichever color you prefer)
- 5–6 stalks of scallions
- 1.5 tbsp ketchup
- 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
- 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 clove of garlic (minced)
- 1 tbsp water
- 1–2 Thai birds eye chile (finely chopped)
- oil for frying
- Mix together flour, cornstarch, sea salt, paprika, onion powder and garlic powder in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup (120 ml) of water and mix to form a batter.
- Cut paneer into 1 cm / 0.5 in cubes. Add to batter and carefully fold in so that everything is evenly coated in batter.
- Add a generous amount of frying oil to pan and heat over a high flame. When the oil is hot, carefully add batter covered paneer to oil one by one. Fry on both sides until crispy and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon from pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up the oil. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together ketchup, chili sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, minced garlic, water and chopped chilis (optional).
- Chop bell pepper the same size as the paneer cubes (1 cm/ 0.5 in). Wash and trim the edges of the scallion stalks. Cut into pieces no longer than 2 cm/ 1 inch long.
- In a large wok, heat 1-2 tbsp of frying oil over high heat. Add chopped bell pepper and chopped scallion pieces. Fry together for a minute or so (you want the vegetables cooked but still crisp so try not to cook them into mush). Add fried paneer pieces and stir fry together for a minute until paneer has picked up the heat of the wok.
- Add sauce mixture and toss to combine making sure everything is evenly coated. Cook for a minute or so then turn off the heat and serve.
You can use store bought paneer for this recipe but I always find that homemade is best. Prepackaged paneer can be a bit tasteless and rubbery, so if you really want that cheesy kind of taste, try making your own at home. It’s quite easy to make-just heat milk to a low boil then add an acidic agent like lemon juice, vinegar or yogurt. Strain though cheese cloth then press together and VOILA-homemade paneer. Go here for details on how to make it at home.
- Category: Vegetarian
- Method: Stir-Fry
- Cuisine: Indian
Keywords: paneer, vegetarian, cheese, chili, sweet and sour, vegetables, bell pepper, scallions