Cheese Chili 

Being in the US has its drawbacks. I miss the tantalizing aromas arising from the roadside dhabas/stalls that mystically stop and turn you around towards them. Your mouth starts to drool gallons of saliva while waiting for your order (delay in the order and the waiting time makes it more desirable) and  just watching the chef tossing the ingredients in his huge wok adding sauces and masalas right in front of you makes you want to dig right in. And when you finally take that first spoon full in your mouth nothing else matters. The clock stops and all you feel is the joy and taste running like electricity through your body.

Of all cuisines I miss Indian Chinese the most. Many overseas Indian restaurants cater to the overseas Indians' nostalgic taste for Indian Chinese food but are hardly able to do justice to the taste and flavors. The spicy manchurian, hakka noodles, cheese chilly, fried rice, momos all prepared in oversized charred woks from repeated use topped with a lingering flavor and smell of kerosene from the burner it was prepared on. Usually the chef is a Nepalese Gorkha or a petite looking north-east Indian with squinty eyes (no offense please) giving the restaurant a more authentic “Chinese” look. I recently found that the Chinese cuisine ranks India's most favorite cuisine (after local food), growing at 9% annually. It is the most favored option when young people go out to eat and the second favorite (after South Indian cuisine) when families dine out. The cuisine is believed to have originated from the Chinese immigrants of Calcutta that spread to the rest of the country (and world).

Cheese Chili
My love of Indo-Chinese food inspired me to try out this recipe by Neeta Mehta. A traditional paneer recipe with Chinese twist makes it delicious and mouth watering. It involves few ingredients: paneer/cheese, capsicum and onion and is stir fried in sauce. Makes a great side dish or appetizer that will surely rock your taste buds and leave your guests complementing your cooking skills.
Cheese Chili
Preparation and cooking time: 20-25 minutes
Servings: 3-4 people


200 grams paneer/cottage cheese cut into ¾ inch cubes

1 medium green bell pepper chopped into 1” cubes
1 medium onion chopped into 1” cubes
2-3 green chilies finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic coarsely chopped
2 tbsp corn flour
2 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
2 tsp rice wine vinegar/ any vinegar
2 tbsp chili-garlic sauce
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp ajinomotto for thickening
Salt to taste


Mix corn flour, all purpose flour and salt with 3-4 tbsp of water into a thick batter to coat the cottage cheese/paneer.

Heat some oil in a frying pan. Test it by putting a drop of batter in it; it should rise immediately to the surface. Now coat the cottage cheese/paneer with the batter and fry them in oil till golden brown. Keep aside.

In a skillet, heat 2 tbsp oil, and sauté green chilies and garlic. Take care not to burn the garlic. Now add onions and sauté them for a few seconds. Decrease the heat to a medium. Add salt, black pepper, ajinomotto. Pour in soy sauce, tomato ketchup, chili-garlic sauce and vinegar. Stir for 2-3 minutes. Now add green bell peppers in the sauce and sauté for a minute. Finally add the paneer and mix well.

Serve hot as an appetizer or with naan/rotis.

Cheese chili