Indian Chinese; the one thing that I know a lot people in India just can’t get enough of including yours truly. From hakka noodles, fried rice, chicken chow mein, chop suey and chilli chicken. And the list goes on. With Chinese techniques tailor made for the Indian taste this unique take on a ‘desi’ version of the cuisine might not be something you’ll find in China but it’s been scoffed down by Indians as long as I can remember. Posh Indian restaurants to night street markets all serving some of the scrummiest dishes on offer, reasonable priced, always delicious and very satisfying.
One of the most legendary and well known places for this delectable cuisine was China Garden in Mumbai. My personal favourites have also included Mainland China (with quite a few branches dotted about) and Kamling (where I frequented when I was younger)
The menu rarely changes in Indian Chinese with signature dishes that have been cooked for generations but that’s the beauty of it; the key is a good dose of garlic, chilli and ginger. With a good measure of soy for the salty balance, sugar and also corn flour used as a binder to thicken gravies and sauces. The flavours are robust and full on so once you’ve tried it I can guarantee you’ll be hooked!
I’m hosting a cookery demo at Cinnamon Kitchen this week and apart from showcasing one of the prime parts of Indian cuisine I was also keen to compliment the ethos of what was on offer at Cinnamon Kitchen (from the Cinnamon Club team) which is renowned for its take on modern Indian cooking.
Chilli Paneer Fry is the recipe I cooked up at my cookery demo and one that works beautifully even with moist chicken morsels as well. It has the perfect balance of spice, sweet and tart from the chilli garlic sauce, moistness from the paneer with peppers and onions providing that crunch. Served just with some steamed rice. I have made it with a thick sauce that coats the paneer pieces all over but it’s perfect even just tossed in the sauce & served as canapés.
Paneer is Indian cottage cheese and an widely used in Indian cooking not just for its meaty texture but also for the ability to absorbs spices and flavours really well while holding its own. Also it doesn’t take too long to cook. Shop bought chilli garlic sauce is readily available but if you were to make your own do so mixing chillies, garlic, tomatoes, dash of vinegar, salt & sugar reducing the mix to a thick sauce. Once you have made the dish adjust the seasoning to your desired consistency sugar as well as salt.
200gms Paneer/ Indian cottage cheese chopped into cubes
Oil for frying
For the batter;
2 tbsp rice flour
2 tbsp corn flour
½ tsp kashmiri chilli powder or mild paprika
½ tsp white pepper powder
½ tsp garlic paste
Salt to taste
1 tbsp water
For the sauce;
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 tsp ginger finely chopped
1 medium red onion chopped into cubes
1 medium red pepper chopped into cubes
1 green chilli slit lengthwise (deseed if you wish)
1 ½ tbsp chilli garlic sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp sugar (optional)
Salt to taste
2 spring onions finely sliced for garnish
Heat couple of inches of oil in a wide sauce pan or a wok. Mix the water with all the batter ingredients in a bowl. Toss the paneer cubes in the bowl to coat the pieces evenly. Fry the paneer in the hot oil in batches for 20-30 seconds. They should have a light brown crisp coating on all sides. Drain the paneer on kitchen paper and set aside.
To make the sauce; heat the vegetable oil in a sauce pan on a medium heat. Add the garlic and chopped ginger. Fry for 20 seconds and add the red onions. Sauté the onions for a further minute until they soften and tip in the red peppers along with the slit chilli and fry for a couple of minutes.
Add the chilli garlic sauce and the dark soy & stir well. If the sauce is a little thick add a couple of tablespoons of water to thin it out slightly. Now add the fried paneer cubes, stirring well making sure to coat all the pieces with the sauce evenly. Simmer the sauce for a minute. Season to taste with salt and sugar. Serve warm with some noodles or fried rice with a garnish of spring onions.