India is a land with a delightful array of crossover cuisines that have evolved across thousands of years. In the past we have discussed Persian, Mughal, Portuguese, Colonial and Awadhi influences on this blog. Today, let’s explore the Oriental influence, in particular, the Szechuan culinary influence.
According to historical records, Chinese settlers began arriving in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in the late 1770s. They brought with them their culinary styles and practices which were radically different from traditional Indian cooking systems. Most of their everyday dishes were boiled or steamed – and they were too bland for the Indian palate. Also, the cooking medium used by the Chinese settlers was pork lard, which didn’t suit the Indian digestive system at all. But over time, some Chinese dishes, especially the spicy Szechuan ones, became popular in Calcutta. Today, after hundreds of years of evolution and experimentation, there is an interesting Indo-Oriental fusion that has given this cuisine a unique flavour – and foodies just love it!
The dish we are preparing today is one such Indo-Oriental fusion recipe called Chilli Paneer – hugely popular across India, whether you are in Calcutta or Delhi or Chandigarh or Mumbai. You can find it almost everywhere, from Chinese Food restaurants and eateries to roadside food carts and street food stalls. And that’s the version we will be making today – totally desi and totally delicious!
The ingredients that you will require are listed below.
Indian Cottage Cheese (Paneer): 600 grams
Onions: 2, medium-sized
Green Chillies: 7
Mustard Oil: 6 tablespoons
Light Soya Sauce: 3 tablespoons
Dark Soya Sauce: 1 tablespoon
Vinegar: 4 tablespoons
Sugar: Half a teaspoon
Black Pepper Powder: Half a teaspoon
Salt: to taste
The quantities mentioned above are for preparing four servings. Adjust the quantities proportionately to suit the number of servings that you require.
Finely chop four green chillies. Slit the other three green chillies vertically.
Cut the Paneer into cubes and place the pieces in a mixing bowl. Add the light soya sauce, dark soya sauce, vinegar, sugar, black pepper powder and salt along with the finely chopped green chillies. Then add a teaspoon of Mustard Oil and mix well. The roadside eateries also add a pinch of Ajinomoto to the bowl but we don’t recommend it for health reasons. Place the bowl in your refrigerator and let the Paneer pieces marinate for two hours.
Cut the onions into small pieces.
Coarsely chop the capsicum.
Add the remaining Mustard Oil to the pan and heat it on a High flame till the oil reaches its smoking point. When this happens, aromatic white smoke will rise slowly from the surface of the hot oil. Reduce the flame to Medium and continue cooking.
Add the onions to the hot oil and sauté for around a minute or so.
Next, add the capsicum and continue to sauté for another couple of minutes.
Now add marinated Paneer pieces along with the marinade. Gently stir to mix all the contents of the pan. Cook till the Paneer pieces are done. Just before switching the flame off, increase the heat to High and give the contents a final stir.
Transfer the contents of the pan to a serving dish and garnish with slit green chillies.
Your Indo-Oriental fusion version of Chilli Paneer is now ready. Serve it hot. You can have it as a side dish with fried rice. It can also be eaten as a snack item.
You can find more recipes at : https://www.purioilmills.com/recipes-in-english/