Chilli Paneer/Paneer Manchurian or Spicy Saucy Indian Cottage Cheese

Any food with soy sauce, vinegar, chilli sauce, ginger and garlic is considered “Chinese” food in India. This combination of ingredients has given rise to a whole genre of food in the Indian subcontinent called “Indo-Chinese” food. Needless to say, the People’s Republic of China have never heard of most of the things that fall into the “Indo-Chinese” category of food. So, what I’m trying to say is that it is a made up style of  “Chinese” food in India much like the made up “Indian” food here in England  except for the teeny-tiny fact that the former is actually quite tasty (pa dam pum tshhhh!).

While Indo-Chinese food is a pretend food, it is very very popular in streets and restaurants all over India. In Bangalore, where I grew up, it is not unusual to see a guy vending these yummy delights out of the back of a covered auto-rickshaw or tuk-tuk. He usually has an array of finely chopped vegetables all neatly arranged in boxes and a huge wok on a portable stove in which he cooks them. Funnily enough, they tend to be exclusively vegetarian, with only the most adventurous ones treading into the fungus world by sporting mushrooms alongside the array of vegetables. (Note: Some orthodox Hindu members of my mum’s extended family will not eat mushrooms as they think its neither a vegetable nor an animal so best to stay away from it.)

Coming back to the main story, these street vendors and several established restaurants have the following popular Indo-chinese dishes on their menu – Gobi Manchurian (cauliflower from Manchuria clearly), Paneer Manchurian (cottage cheese instead of cauliflower), Vegetable Manchurian, Babycorn manchurian, Vegetable friend rice, Vegetable fried noodles and so on. My fondest memories of Indo-Chinese food are from the months of the monsoon rains in Bangalore. Family friends of ours would pick up some of these saucy, spicy delights and bring them over to our house to share. We’d spend the evening in the warm indoors getting even warmer with every little bite of spicy, “Chinese” vegetable.

Paneer is one of the very few cheeses made in India. It a fresh cheese and is the Indian form of cottage cheese. The main difference is that paneer is drained to remove much of its moisture content and  is compacted into a hard block that can be cut into cubes and added into various curries.

Chilli paneer is an Indo-Chinese dish and I use the name interchangeably with Paneer Machurian. It is cubes of paneer sauteed (or fried) in oil and then tossed in a stirfry made with soy, vinegar, tomato sauce, ginger, garlic, chillies, capsicum (green peppers) and onions. It can be enjoyed on its own as an evening snack with your favourite pint or shot of spirits. Alternatively, it can be consumed with any form of flat bread. If you add water to it to make it more liquid-y, it can even be eaten with rice.

Here is my take on Chilli Paneer/Dry Paneer Manchurian. Remember – the spicier, the better. Hope you like it!

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Chilli paneer served with soft tortilla

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A delicious Christmas lunch: Thanks to all my fellow-bloggers!

We are a bit unconventional when it comes to most things and Christmas lunches are no exception. While most households in England and around the world are busy dealing with a turkey, I spend my time looking up recipes from around the world that I can incorporate into our “Internationally-inspired Christmas lunch”. Last year we had an Italian Starter (Tomato and Mozarella salad), an Indian main (Malai kofta) and a French dessert (Chocolate and raspberry moelleux).

This year, I decided to incorporate something from the Southern hemisphere and this turned out to be the dessert –  passionfruit mousse. Over the summer, I got to try a twice-baked goat’s cheese soufflé and the melt-in-the-mouth taste that I experienced was amazing so I decided that would be my challenge for Christmas this year and this turned out to be the blue-cheese souffle main. Finally, I was keen on trying to make something from South-east Asia and settled on the Malaysian steam bun. I have very fond memories of the steam bun as my once neighbour, who was Malaysian, would bring them over to us straight out of the steamer. As the filling in these buns tend to be meat, I used a curry puff filling recipe to make it vegetarian. All three dishes turned out really well – not to mention my Christmas cake.

Most of my recipes (except the Christmas cake) came from my fellow-bloggers and this blog is a tribute/thank you to them for sharing their wonderful recipes. Our Christmas wouldn’t have been as tasty without them. Merry Christmas and keep blogging!

 

Our Christmas menu

Our Christmas menu

 
Recipes used:

In this section, I have listed links to the recipes I used for our Christmas lunch along with a picture of  the end product. Any changes to the recipes are also listed. Hope you like them and will try them out yourselves. We had an amazing time polishing off this food.

Click on the links below to get to the details of the recipe and more delicious pictures.

 

1. Starter: Baozi or Pau – Malaysian steam bun

2. Main: Twice-baked blue cheese soufflé with a creamy tomato sauce and apple, walnut, rocket salad 

3. Dessert: Mousse de Maracuya or Passionfruit mousse (from Ecuador)

 

Christmas-lunch