Paneer Chowmein

Paneer chowmein is spicy stir fried indo chinese style noodles tossed with whole green chillies, colorful peppers and lightly browned paneer batons in a sauce made with soy, ginger and spices. These slippery savory noddles with mix of milky softness of paneer and kick from fresh green chilies are just heavenly.

If you go to Delhi, you will find how paneer strangely finds its way into almost everything! There could not be a better example of how we can create mouthwatering recipes with paneer. There are many indo chinese dishes popular with paneer – from chilli paneer to machurian and these chowmein are lip smackingly good!

I studied at Delhi College of Engineering in the campus located in the outskirts of Delhi. When you live away from main hub, the eateries around the campus become a huge part of your student life. This chowmein was the star dish at this place called Apsara restaurant,strangely so I vividly remember the seating, neon walls, huge wall decals and layout of the place even after more than two decades. It was the coolest place with fun milkshakes, ice creams, chaat, street food and some bomb indo chinese. We thronged it often and paneer chowemin with serious amounts of green chilies was my favorite thing to order.

Any good chowmein needs to have a great sauce, vegetables cut in a certain way and in my opinion, the quality of noodles matters the most. The noodles have to be thick enough to crisp during stir frying but not too doughy. Here are few of my pointers to keep in mind when you make these:-

Type of Noodles:- Go for Chings Hakka Noodles or choose chowmein noodles at the asian or american stores. You can also use ramen noodles but whichever kind you choose, make sure the noodles are neither though thin or thick.You want them to crisp up when stir fried on high heat .

Vegetables – I like to add just colorful bell peppers, but cabbage, carrot sticks would be great too. The way you cut the vegetables for the stir fried noodles make a huge difference, do no cut the vegetables in chunks. Try to thinly slice them lengthwise at an angle. This also makes sure that the vegetables don’t over or under cook. The ultimate thing in this chowmein are whole green chilies, use lots of them and you can slit them too if you want!

Sauce– This sweet sticky sauce with dark soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce, green chilli sauce, honey, maggi hot and sweet and touch of coriander is the soul of this recipe. I always say this and repeating again that indo-chinese food gets its taste from indian condiments, many times substitutes great work but the taste is worth a visit to Indian store.

Other Indo Chinese recipes to try :-

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Paneer Chowmein

Paneer chowmein is spicy stir fried indo chinese style noodles tossed with whole green chillies, peppers and soft lightly browned paneer batons in a sauce made with soy, ginger, chilli sauce and spices. These slippery savory noddles with mix of milky softness of paneer and kick from fresh green chilies are just heavenly. 
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese, Indian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 200 g hakka noodles
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 3 scallion, white & green parts chopped separately
  • 4-5 whole Thai bird green chillies,
  • 1/2 cup bell peppers, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 100 g Paneer, cut into small batons
  • Salt

For the Sauce

  • 1.5 tbsp Chings dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Sweet chilli sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp Chings green chili sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp Maggi Hot & Sweet Sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1/3 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp white vinegar

Instructions

  • Add all the sauce ingredients to a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
  • Cook noodles as per package instructions. Drain, massage with little oil and keep ready.
  • In a large wok, add oil and heat up. Add onions, ginger, garilc, scallion white part and green chillies all at once to the wok.Stir fry on high heat for about 2 minutes. Don't brown too much.
  • Next add the peppers and paneer to the wok, sprinkle a pinch of salt and stir fry on high heat just for a couple minutes. We dont want to overcook them but the paneer should brown lightly.
  • Next add the noodles to the wok.Pour over the sauce that we prepared.
  • Using tongs or chopsticks or two forks, toss everything together until the noodles are coated in the sauce and everything is heated through. Let stir fry for about 2 minutes so that the noddles crisp up.
  • Remove from heat and add the green part of scallions. Serve immediately.

Chilli Gobhi(Cauliflower)



The week that went by was such a mixed bag. It started when many of my spice jars came tumbling down on the counter while clumsy moi was trying to fetch something from at the back of the rack. Few of them, brought from Kerala (indian state known for its premium spices),travelled with mum last year and I was almost in tears looking at my counter.Hah, actually not! Thankfully, the jars didn’t break and as of now I am sitting on two or three cupfuls of forced homemade spice mixture of sorts which I need to put to use in future.

Then, my tripod started behaving weird.Out and out.The socket to grip the camera & lens got free and the next day the extension arm won’t stay in place.Before clicking next set of pictures, I have to get a new one now.We will see when that happens because tomorrow we are leaving for a family trip after more than a couple of years since I was pregnant. You can tag along on Instagram in case you want.It has been a long stay at home and I am really looking forward to some time away from cleaning & cooking & solo baby watching.!.Couple of trips got booked in between and got cancelled for some reason or the other, so until I set my toe on that plane, fingers crossed lovelies! Right now,while I am sitting surrounded by ziploc stuffed with cherrios & m&ms,scattered diapers,half packed bags and un ironed clothes,don’t ask me why I am writing a blog post instead. Just don’t.

My mum confirmed that she would be visiting us in December this year and I can hardly wait! Then, the weather in the Valley came dropping down. I am loving it since winters are my more favorite of the seasons. I pulled out those leg warmers and those furry, fuzzy coats. Happppy!Then, as always the cold weather succeeded in  pushing me towards heavy deep-fried, robust food and earlier this week, I prepared this super spicy chill gobhi with warm tones of ginger, a strong garlic flavor and kick from chillies for our meatless monday dinner.

I have written about indo-chinese a couple of times in my previous posts. I often make indo-chinese in our house since there is not much to order from restaurants here. When making vegetarian dishes,though paneer is more popular in India, I find cauliflower as good an option too.This firm vegetable, usually cornered as bland, when coated in spicy batter, deep-fried and with hot sauce tastes meaty and satisfying. And then, technically you are eating a vegetable,so little less guilt.The dish has got some bold, saucy flavors.

There is not much chinese about this recipe or for that matter any indo-chinese recipe except the use of garlic, soy sauce & vinegar.But certainly it is not a curry and an amazing fusion dish with lots going on- cripsy, spicy, tangy, hints of sweet.Pair this recipe with plain rice, indian fried rice or serve as an appetizer or snack with drinks if you like.

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

For the Sauce 

  • Kashmiri dry chillies (these give a beautiful color and good amount of heat but use any mild or hot chill variety you like)
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1.5 tsp cornstarch +3 tbsp cold water
  • 4 tbsp canola oil (or vegetable or grapeseed oil)
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 fat garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1-2 Thai bird chillies, finely chopped (adjust quantity of taste, de seed if you like less hot)
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onions
  • 2-3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce (I use Chingâ€s brand)
  • 2 tsp tomato chili sauce (I use Maggi Hot & sweet,see notes)
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil ((optional, this is a really strong flavoring, do not use if you haven’t tasted it before,skip or substitute with untoasted sesame oil for a mellow taste))
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1/4 tsp honey (use agave for vegan to taste, see notes)
  • 1 tbsp distilled white vinegar (or to taste, see notes)
  • Chopped Cilantro, chopped fresh ginger, chopped green chillies for garnish

For Deep Frying 

  • 1 medium cauliflower
  •  1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 serrano chilli, finely chopped (de seed if you like less hot)
  • 1/2 tsp dark soy sauce (I use Chingâ€s brand)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 -1/3 cup water (or as required to make the batter)
  • Canola Oil for frying (or vegetable oil)

Method

Making the Sauce

Soak the red chillies in warm water for 5-7  minutes. Using your mortar and pestle, make a smooth paste of the soaked chillies and garlic using with 1-2 tbsp of soaking water. You can de seed the chillies if you like less hot. Set aside.

Mix cornstarch with cold water. Set aside

In a wok/wide mouthed pan,heat up the oil to smoking hot. Add chopped garlic & ginger,green chillies and cook for 1 minute or till you smell the aroma. Do not let burn. Next add the onions & scallion.Cook for 2-3 minutes or till light brown in color. Add the chilli-garlic paste that we made earlier and saute till the raw smell is gone, about a minute or so. At any point you feel that the mix is drying or sticking to bottom of the pan, add a splash of water. Add soy sauce next along with tomato chill sauce and sesame oil. Saute for 1-2 minutes.Next, add the cornstarch mix to the wok. Reduce the heat to low and let everything simmer for another 2-4 minutes till the sauce thickens to desired consistency.

Next, taste & adjust the salt. Sprinkle the garam masala, add honey & vinegar and stir everything well. (If you want a thinner sauce add some water right now).Let simmer for another 1 minutes. Put off the heat and let sit while you fry up the cauliflower (recipe below).

Deep Frying the Cauliflower

Cut the cauliflower florets into halves.Do not cut very small else the florets will turn mushy while frying and not hold up in the sauce. Wash thoroughly under running water & let the water drain.Pat the florets completely dry.

In your fryer or in a heavy bottomed wide pan/wok let the 2-3 inches of canola oil heat up. In a bowl, throughly mix all the ingredients listed to make a smooth and thick batter.Dip the gobhi florets one by one in the batter and deep fry on low-medium heat till golden brown.Drain on paper towel.

Note – I do not boil the cauliflower before frying. I want the cauliflower to have a bite after deep-frying. However, do not fry the florets on very high heat either else they will be raw from inside.

Warm up the sauce prepared earlier if it gets cold. Gently add the fried cauliflower florets to the sauce and toss. Garnish with chopped ginger, chillies and cilantro if you like. Serve immediately!

Notes :-

  1. I usually make the sauce first and then fry up the cauliflower.This makes sure that the cauliflower stays crisp.If you are making the fritters first, let them stay warm in a 200 degree F oven while you make the sauce)
  2. You can use little tomato paste and sriracha in this recipe if you do not have tomato-chilli sauce.Adjust quantity to liking. Go light on vinegar at the end since the tomato paste is quite acidic.
  3. Adding tomato – chilli sauce adds sweetness too, you can adjust the level of sweet in this recipe either by adding ketchup or honey/agave/sugar.