Indo-Chinese chilli paneer

Indo-Chinese chilli paneer

I Love India
Martin Poole

Chinese immigrants came to India in the eighteenth century to work at the ports of Calcutta, Madras and Mumbai… and India got its first taste of Chinese food. Restaurants catering for the immigrants started to fuse Indian ingredients with the food their customers wanted, and Indo-Chinese dishes were born. This is one of those dishes and a favourite with vegetarians. It gives a lovely sticky, spicy, sweet sauce that clings to the paneer. The green chillies here add depth but not too much heat as they do not cook too long and the seeds and membranes remain inside. This is the only dish in which I use ketchup, as it works, adding a sweetness and some vinegar. I like to serve this with some rice, but to be honest, I am also really happy to eat it on its own.


Quantity Ingredient
4 large garlic cloves
12g roughly chopped root ginger, (peeled weight)
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
2 tablespoons tomato puree
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
3 tablespoons cornflour
2 tablespoons plain flour
300g paneer, cut into 2.5cm cubes
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small red onion, cut into 2.5cm cubes
1 small green or red pepper, cut into 2.5cm cubes
3-6 green chillies, stalks removed, pierced with a knife
11/2-2 teaspoons white wine or rice vinegar, to taste
1 large spring onion, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste


  1. Blend the garlic and ginger until smooth, adding a little water to help the blades turn. Separately, mix together the tomato ketchup, tomato purée and dark soy sauce. Lastly, stir together the cornflour, flour and 4–5 tbsp water and gently stir in the paneer.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large, wide frying pan over a medium heat. Add the paneer in a single layer; if it does not fit, brown it in 2 batches (don’t throw away the flour slurry). Fry the paneer, turning, until golden on all sides. Take out of the pan and place on kitchen paper to blot off excess oil.
  3. Add the remaining oil to the pan. Add the garlic and ginger paste and cook over a medium heat until it is just starting to colour. Add the onion, pepper, chillies and a small splash of water to stop the garlic from darkening too much. Stir-fry for 4 minutes or so, splashing in a little more water if the garlic is getting dark.
  4. Add the paneer, the ketchup mixture, vinegar and 2 tsp of the flour slurry, with a good splash of water from the kettle. Stir-fry until the whole thing comes together into a lovely sticky sauce. Add the spring onion, season to taste and serve.
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