Restaurants will sometimes fry the paneer in cornstarch, but my mother switched it out with a shortcut: using readymade Manchurian powder or hot and sour soup powder instead. It creates the same consistency and doubles down on the sweet and tangy taste, while saving you the extra hassle of making the batter. All the readymade ingredients can be found online or in an Indian grocery store like Patel Brothers or Kalustyan’s.
- Chop the blocks of paneer into large cubes. Microwave in a bowl for 20 seconds to soften them.
- Heat oil in a deep frying pan till the pot starts to smoke lightly.
- Put in the ginger and garlic paste and stir-fry on medium heat.
- When the paste has browned lightly, first add in the minced ginger and garlic and fry till brown. Next, add in the chopped peppers, onions, and green chiles. Stir-fry on medium heat till they’re brown.
- Now add in the paneer, and continue to stir-fry the whole mixture on high heat. When the edges of the paneer cubes start to turn brown, add in the dry masala mix or Manchurian powder, whichever you’re cooking with. Stir well so that the powder mixes thoroughly with the paneer, onions, and peppers.
- Add in the three sauces: tomato, soy, and green chile, and continue to fry.
- Adjust the heat to a slow simmer, and as you fry, the sauces and the powder will mix together and start to thicken.
- Taste the seasoning and add salt accordingly.
- Again, continue to stir and mix well, making sure that the mixture is evenly coated through your paneer in the pan.
Iva Dixit is an associate editor at The New York Times Magazine, and was previously a member of the editorial staff at The New Yorker.