- One pot meal
- Easy way to use up leftover rice
- Can by made vegan by using tofu instead of paneer
About the dish
Indian Chinese is a type of Indian fusion food that has become very popular, served both in restaurants and as a common street food. Chilli paneer is a popular Indo Chinese appetizer which takes deep fried paneer and tosses it in a spicy, tangy sauce with bell peppers (capsicum) and onions. It can be served dry or with some gravy. When made with some gravy it is served with basmati rice.
So, this idea takes inspiration from chilli paneer and turns it into an easy main course dish, paneer fried rice. This version has all the big spicy, tangy flavors with delicious paneer and veggies.
While paneer (Indian cottage cheese) is usually deep fried, I take the approach of pan frying / shallow fry it in this fried rice recipe. It gets a slightly crisp outside with a melt in your mouth inside!
If you are on team noodles, I’ve also made chilli paneer noodles previously which is a very popular recipe on my site. Other popular Indian Chinese dishes include Gobi Manchurian, Hakka Noodles and Hakka Noodle Soup.
This is an easy recipe that is great to serve as a festival recipe in large quantity or for an easy, quick weeknight dinner.
Tips for Delicious Paneer Fried Rice
- Cold day old cooked rice / leftover rice is ideal – Cold rice prevents clumps and really gives each grain the chance to be cooked well and coated in the sauce.
- If you do not have leftover rice and you want to make this dish, try to plan ahead. Make fresh rice, but spread it out in a baking sheet and stick it either in the freezer for 20 minutes or in the fridge for an hour.
2. Fats – Use sesame oil and butter: If you don’t have sesame oil, use any neutral oil conducive to high heat cooking. A tablespoon of butter is optional, but I think it is what gives that extra flavor of restaurant style fried rice.
3. Non-stick pan skillet – Necessary as the rice will be cooked on high heat. Use a skillet that is big enough to give the rice room to cook and does not overcrowd the ingredients.
4. High flame /heat + time – Cook the rice on high heat and give it time to sit between stirs. This allows the rice to fry/char/brown a bit to get your fried rice flavor.
- Paneer: cut into cubes
- Spices: White pepper (substitute black pepper powder), sugar, salt, turmeric
- Fresh ingedients/vegetables: garlic, onion, ginger, green chillies, bell pepper (capsicum), spring onions (separate spring onion greens and spring onion whites
- Base of sauce: Soy sauce, vinegar, red chilli sauce, crushed tomatoes
How to make the fusion dish (see step photos)
Preparation time: 10 minutes (cut vegetables, pre-mix sauce)
- Get out your day old / cold leftover fried rice (I used 1 cup rice (dry) with 3 cups water)
- Prepare the sauce mixture – Mix sauces and spices.
- Pan fry the paneer – Pan fry the paneer with spices to the level of crispiness you like until it begins to turn golden brown. Don’t over cook though, else the paneer will dry out. (about 2-3 minutes)
- Mix it all together – Cook the rice in high heat. Add sauce mixture and continue to cook until rice chars a bit. Add in pan fried paneer cubes. Top with scallion greens and enjoy! Optionally, give a squeeze of lemon juice.
Type of Paneer
Homemade paneer is always best and a favorite ingredients for paneer recipes. However, store bought paneer works well too. Cut the store bought paneer into small cubes. Then, soak it in a few cups water to help restore moisture and get soft paneer cubes.
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Chilli Paneer Fried Rice
- 1 Non stick pan wide bottom
- 8 oz paneer cubed
- 4 tsp neutral oil
- ¼ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp white pepper substitute ¼ tsp black pepper if you don't have
- 4 cups rice (cooked, day old) 1 cup dry rice
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 6 cloves garlic 32g
- 1 small red onion chopped, 100g
- 1 tbsp ginger (finely chopped or blended) about 1 inch giner
- 1 tsp green chili paste blended
- 1½ bell pepper (capsicum) 155g
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp soy sauce (reduced sodium) Adjust salt if not using low sodium soy sauce
- ½ tsp white pepper substitute black pepper if don't have
- 2 tsp vinegar
- 1 tbsp sambal olek red chilli sauce
- ¼ cup crushed tomatoes
- ½ tsp sugar
- Mix soy sauce, sugar, white pepper, vinegar, sambal olek and crushed tomatoes in a bowl. Set aside sauce mixture.
- Heat oil in pan. Add paneer and spices. Toss to coat until desired level of crispiness. Don't overcook or paneer will dry out. Set aside once done.
- Heat oil in pan. Add garlic, ginger and crushed green chilli. Cook about 1 minutes, mixing so it doesn't burn.
- Add onions, bell peppers and scallion whites. Mix and cook 2 minutes. Add salt. Add sauce mixture from step 1.
- Add rice.
- Mix well and cook until rice just begins to char a bit so you get some crispy bits.
- Mix in paneer and serve.