We are a set of 4 desis in almost adjacent houses, and we meet on various occassions, at the drop of a hat – if there is none, we create one. To cut a long story short, we have forged great friendships over the years and I am really grateful for having such great friends/neighbors. Couple of weeks ago, we decided to meet for a farewell dinner for my friend’s mom who was visiting them from Chennai. It was my turn to host and I decided on the cuisine and menu too – it was to be Chinese, or rather Desi-chinese – every true-blooded Desi that I know loves Desi-chinese and am yet to find one who doesn’t. This was to be a potluck pary and Gobi Manchurian, Chilli Paneer, Hakka Noodles and Veg. Fried Rice were on the menu. I chose to make Chilli Paneer.
This dish, a deadly combination of paneer cooked in desi-chinese style, is something that I have always liked and wanted to make. This party provided the perfect opportunity to try it out. Tarla Dalal has a great recipe for chilli paneer and I also found Sig’s Chilli Chicken recipe quite interesting. I kind of married the two and made my own recipe – don’t we all do that?
Take about 3 cups of 1/2″ strips of paneer and marinate it in a batter of cornflour (1/2 cup) and whole wheat flour (1/2 cup), 1 tbsp soya sauce, pinch of baking powder, 1 tsp of chilli powder, salt and water in a mixing bowl. Let this marinate for about 1/2 hour. Instead of deep frying, which is what both the original recipes suggested, I shallow-fried the paneer. I did this in 2 batches and each batch used up about 1.5 tbsp of vegetable oil. In terms of oil consumption, I don’t know if this is better than the deep-frying option, as I did not compare the two procedures, but I felt good about not deep-frying and even better there was no compromise in the taste due to this modification So, let’s proceed on to shallow-fry the paneer in a non-stick skillet (very important!) till it is about golden brown on all sides. Set this aside in a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. There will be some batter remaining in the mixing bowl – DO NOT throw this away.
Next, slice about 2 onions and 3 capsicums. Also, mince (or grate) 1″ Ginger, 2 Green chillies and 2-3 cloves of Garlic. In a wok or a non-stick skillet, add about 2 tbsp of oil, saute the 3 Gs and onion, till the onion is almost translucent. Add the capsicums now and cook till it is crunchy but has a bite. Now dilute the marinate batter with a lil bit of water so that it is in a pouring consistency. Add this batter to the wok. If you don’t have any remaining batter, prepare some using 1 tbsp of corn flour and 1 tbsp of whole wheat flour, add 1/2 tsp of soya sauce and 1/2 tsp of chilli powder and mix it with water. Add the sauteed paneer pieces to the wok.
Cook this on high and stirring occasionally and carefully so that the paneer pieces are not broken, till all the liquid is absorbed. This can be served hot as an appetizer or as an accompaniment to a desi-chinese spread.