Paneer Pakora stuffed with green chutney and tomato chutney is a super easy to make snack or starter. It is crispy & spongy on the outside and soft & spicy on the inside with taste of delicious chutney in every bite! In this recipe I am sharing the traditional deep fried as well as air fried version which also comes out amazing! These pakoras are fancy to serve for entertaining or for evening chai time at home if you are craving something different and delicious.
Pakoras are a hugely popular indian snack and they are made a ton of ways using all sorts of vegetables, paneer, chicken or seafood. A spiced besan (chickpea flour) is prepared and whatever you are making the pakoras with is dunked in the batter and then deep fried. Pakoras are addictive - deep fried, spicy, crunchy outside, soft inside, tasty all in one. They are usually served with an assortment of chutneys and paired with chai.
When we used to go to Haridwar- Rishikesh road trip, we used to stop midway at this quaint little town called Cheetal in Uttar Pradesh. I remember the rest area filled with a myriad of shops and eateries. The food at one of the restaurant there was really delicious and we always ate there. Usually our time of arrival was towards the evening and dad used to order paneer & aloo pakoras along with chai. Those paneer pakoras are the best I have eaten till date. Years later, I still remember the taste. The batter was crispy and spongy at the same time and it tasted of ajwain (carrot seeds) and the paneer was the softest. Could be something about the batter or the oil they fried it in or the quality of paneer or just that we were starving, but those pakoras were heavenly!!
The Pakora Batter :- The pakora batter is made with super fine chickpea flour and it is the soul of pakoras. If your batter is of the right consistency and peppery spiced, the pakoras will be delicious. There are many ways people spice the pakora batter and the recipe differs from home to home and region to region. Truly any kind of spice powders will do. However I stick to the traditional seasonings.I like to add cumin, ajwain and kasuri methi to the batter. Instead of adding amchoor (dry mango powder) which can sometimes make the batter too dark in appearance, I add chaat masala for the tang. You can add some minced ginger or garlic as well. For the heat, I keep switching between adding minced green chilies or red chili powder depending on my mood 🙂 Some people like adding coarsely pounded coriander and black peppercorns as well, however I avoid that and stick to using powdered spices most of the time.
Chutney Stuffed Paneer Pakora is simply made by sandwiching teaspoon of chutney in between paneer. Take a block of paneer and start by cutting it into long batons. Then you slice the batons halfway lengthwise to make space for the chutney but do not slice all the way through. Cut into into largish cubes. Then add a teaspoon of thick chutney in between.You will get a chutney stuffed paneer sandwich. Dunk it into the besan batter and deep fry. You can see the video below to get an idea of how these pakoras are made.
Green Chutney & Tomato Chutney Recipe :- You can find my tomato chutney recipe here. It is sweet spicy tangy and has lovely flavors of curry leaves. The green chutney recipe is below in the recipe card.
Can I Air Fry these pakoras? Absolutely! These paneer sandwiches are super delicious when air fried. If you plan to make them air fried there are a few things that you should keep in mind.
1.Use malai paneer or full fat paneer. When air frying, the softness of the pakora depends on the quality of the paneer. These won't taste as good with reduced fat paneer. However you can certainly use reduced fat paneer for deep fried version.
2. Make the besan batter a little thick but not too thick. Dunk the pakoras in batter and layer in a single layer on the air fryer tray. Spray the pakoras with oil and air fry at 400F for about 16-18 minutes. Due to fat content of paneer and the oil in the batter, they aren't dry at all. I would totally recommend.
3. The only thing I did not like about air fried pakoras was that they didn't taste that great once they cooled down , lets say 30 minutes later. So serve and eat while still warm.
A few more tips and tricks when making these pakoras :-
- When you make the chutneys, make sure to make them thick. They should not be watery at all. This is super important!
- I find working with chilled, straight from the fridge paneer easier. It is easy to slice and stuff.
- Dont make a too runny or too thick batter. Add water slowly when making the batter else the besan will become lumpy.
Chutney Stuffed Paneer Pakora
For the Green Chutney
- 1 bunch (2 cups) organic cilantro leaves & tender stems, washed and air dried
- 12-15 fresh organic mint leaves, washed and air dried
- 3 bird eye green chilies, or adjust to taste
- 3 fat garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- ¼ teaspoon amchoor(dry mango powder)
- ½ teaspoon salt or adjust to taste
- 1 tablespoon thick yogurt
For the Paneer Sandwich
- 14 oz (400g) malai paneer
- ¼ cup Green chutney
- ¼ cup Tomato chutney
- Oil for frying
- Chaat Masala & Extra chutney to serve
For the Pakora Batter
- 1.5 cup fine besan (chickpea flour)
- 3 tablespoon rice flour
- 1.5 teaspoon coarse coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- Pinch of ajwain (carrom) seeds
- 1 teaspoon hot red chili powder, adjust to taste
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1.5 teaspoon chaat masala
- ½ teaspoon kasuri methi, crushed
- 1 teaspoon salt, adjust to taste
Make Green Chutney
- Add all the ingredients except the yogurt to the blender jar. Blitz to make a smooth paste adding as little water as possible.
- Add yogurt to a bowl and beat it to smooth. Add the chutney and mix together.Ready!
Make the Paneer Sandwiches
- Take a block of paneer and using a sharp knife, start by cutting it lengthwise into long batons about an inch and a half thick.Then you slice each baton halfway to make space for the chutney but do not slice all the way through. Once sliced, cut each baton into 2-3 cubes depending on how big or small you want the pakoras.
- Add a teaspoon of thick chutney in between the space you created by slices. Press gently and wipe out excess chutney. Thats your chutney stuffed sandwich.
- Dunk it into the besan batter(recipe below) and deep fry or air fry. You can see the video in post to get a visual idea.
Make the Pakora Batter
- In a large bowl, add every thing listed under the pakora batter and adding water slowly, mix to make a not too thin or thick batter. I used a little under ¾ cup water. Pakora batter is ready! Dunk paneer one by one batter and deep fry(see instructions below).
- Batter for Air Fryer. If you are making the batter for air frying, make it thickish, I would add just over ½ cup water. Also add 1.5 tablespoon of oil to the batter. Rest of the recipe remains same.
Fry the Pakoras
- Deep Frying - Heat up 3 inches of oil in a wide kadai or pot. Check oil temperature by dropping a little batter, it should rise up(but not sizzle) quickly without changing color. Too hot oil, the batter won't cook, too low the temperature of oil, pakoras will not crisp up rather become chewy.
- Dunk the paneer cubes in the batter and coat nicely. Lower them into the hot oil. Deep fry until golden on all sides. Serve.
- Air Frying :- Preheat the air fryer at 400F. Line the air fryer tray with parchment paper. Makes cleaning easy. Coat the paneer in the batter, make sure that the coating on paneer is not too thick. Layer the pakoras in a single layer, spray nicely with oil and air fry for 16-18 minutes. Flip mid way to cook evenly on all sides. Serve warm!