Tuesday 16 February 2021


It is intensely cold in Edmonton, as I write, and all I can think of is hot, comforting street food from India. I decided to put a call out on Facebook, asking people what they would like to see next on here, a spicy chilli paneer or beef biriyani and the winner was the chilli paneer. I'll get around to the biriyani, I promise, but it is the time for the chilli paneer to shine. 


One of my favourite memories of chilli paneer are from a roadside stall in a tiny locality in Delhi called Ber Sarai. Right next to the border of IIT Delhi and JNU (my alma mater), this little self-contained strip mall had a bunch of internet cafes that we used to use... remember, my student days were well before the internet was commonplace in India, and internet cafes were a bit thing. Oh, and Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer, remember them? I used to trudge to Ber Sarai almost every other day to check my email, and meet up with my community on Harlequin online (oh, man, I really am going down a memory rabbit hole here). Harlequin online was the online community chat devoted to Harlequin romances of which I had a pile, plus I used to read their online and weekly stories pretty much everyday (for longer than I care to admit, mind). Their online chat community was pretty active, and was a massive part of my life growing up, and I still have find memories of the ladies on it helping me through my teenage and early twenties angst.

Back to chilli paneer, though, Ber Sarai was also where I went to cheap Chinese-style Indian food. There was a street vendor right outside the internet and the printing cafe who made the best noodles and chilli paneer, and it was to this taste I turned to when I was developing my recipe. I wanted to keep this recipe super simple, as roadside chilli paneer is not complicated. My version does not faff around with cornstarch and deep frying, instead relying on a simple combination of sauces and some high heat wok frying to keep the dish simple and uncomplicated. I use Maggi chilli sauce in this recipe, as that's what the Ber Sari chilli paneer man used to use, but you can substitute Sriracha instead (note, this will make it a little spicier, but you can add more ketchup to balance). If you do want to use Maggi, then you can find it at any Indian or Asian grocer. Just use the classic red version. I also use dark soy sauce, the darker the better for the depth of salty flavour to this paneer. The other difference in my version is I skip deep frying the paneer first, as I find it an unnecessary step. Using the paneer fresh will make it fray a bit, but if you use a high enough heat, it should caramelize the sauces and the paneer will absorb the sauces better than if you deep fried it. 

So there you have it. My little ode to the heat of Delhi summers and the joy of eating fresh noodles and chilli paneer right there from the roadside dhaba.

Easy Chilli Paneer 
2 tablespoons neutral oil 
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 inch piece of ginger, grated
1 small hot green bird’s eye chili, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped 
400 g paneer (1 pack) cubed
2 tablespoons chilli sauce (I use Maggi, use Sriracha if you don’t have this sauce)
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup (2 if you're using Sriracha)
Small handful of fresh cilantro, chopped, to garnish
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok, or a large frying pan. 
Add the garlic, ginger, and bird's eye chili, and saute for a minute. 
Add the green pepper and onion, and stir fry for a couple minutes. 
Increase the heat to hot. Add the paneer and the sauces. 
Stir and fry together on a high heat, for an additional 5 minutes, until the paneer is hot and soft and gently fraying around the edges, and the sauce has thickened and coats the paneer and vegetables. 

Serve hot garnished with fresh cilantro. 


1 comment :

  1. I don't understand your posting dates. I love your recipes though!


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