Paneer pakora is a popular Indian snack in which soft paneer (Indian cottage cheese) pieces are deep-fried after being coated in a spiced gram flour batter. These paneer fritters have a crispy exterior and a soft interior.
Use my simple and easy recipe to make the best melt-in-mouth paneer pakora. I've also included a variation of chutney stuffed paneer pakora.
Pakora is nothing but a type of fritter in India and Pakistan. I love pakoras of all kinds because they make such a unique side dish or an appetizer. Here are my other pakora recipes - aloo pakora, cauliflower pakora, onion pakora and eggplant pakora.
Pakodas are typically prepared in one of two ways. Either chopped/ shredded ingredients are mixed with the batter before spoonfuls are lowered into the oil, or pieces of the chosen ingredient are dipped in the batter and fried. For this paneer pakora, we do the later.
Why You Will Love Paneer Pakora?
Pakoras are ideal evening tea snacks. In India, pakoras such as aloo pakora, palak pakora, aloo pakora, pyaaz pakora, and mixed vegetable pakora are popular. Trust me you can convert anything into a pakora!
Because of its delicious flavors, paneer Pakoda is one of the most popular variants. This simple pakora recipe calls for paneer, gram flour (besan), and other simple spices. Serve these pakoras hot with your favorite chutney or ketchup.
Whether it's monsoon, winter, or summer, we can't get enough of these addictive snack. They are appropriate for any occasion and are popular with people of all ages. When we were kids, we loved paneer and aloo pakora the most!
Paneer: firm Indian cottage cheese is used for this recipe. This Indian cheese does not melt when cooked, and can be cut into pieces easily.
Gram flour (Besan): Besan is high in protein, fiber, and gluten-free. You will find this at the Indian grocery store. Grinding dried chana dal (Bengal gram) or split brown chickpeas (Kala chana) yields besan.
Note: gram flour is made from split chickpeas (chana dal) and more fine than chickpea flour, which is made fro garbanzo beans.
Spices: Spices add depth and flavor to the batter. Simple spices like turmeric powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, carom seeds (ajwain), asafoetida (hing), and salt are used in this recipe.
Vegetable oil: any vegetable oil of your choice can be used for frying
What Kind Of Paneer To Use?
Paneer is an Indian cottage cheese made by curdling milk in the presence of an acid - lemon juice or vinegar. It is a fresh cheese with a mild, milky flavor. It is neither salted nor aged like other cheeses.
You can use either store-bought (Nanak, Amul, Haldiram, Verka, etc.), easily available in the dairy section at the Indian grocery store. My favorite brand of store bought paneer is haldirams.
How To Make Paneer Pakora?
You can put this easy homemade paneer pakora together in 5 simple steps.
Step 1: Prepare the batter
In a bowl, sieve the gram flour and rice flour. Add the spices. Mix well. Add cold water in small increments and make a thick smooth batter and ensure there are no lumps. I like to use a whisk to make the batter, you can also use an electric beater. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
Pro-tip: In case you are in a hurry, and don't have time to let the batter rest, add a pinch of baking soda to the batter. This will make the pakoras crunchy.
Step 2: Prepare Paneer
If using store-bought paneer, blanch the paneer for 10 minutes in hot water.
You can cut the paneer in squares or triangles, whatever you prefer. For simple paneer pakoras, I prefer squares or rectangles. For the chutney sandwich pakora, I have cut the paneer in triangles.
Marinate the paneer in spices - sprinkle red chili powder, chaat masala, cumin powder, and salt for 5-10 minutes.
Step 3: Heat oil
In a kadhai or heavy-bottomed pan, heat the oil. Once the oil reaches the smoking point, you can test the oil by immersing a few drops of batter in the hot oil. The oil is ready to fry pakora if the batter droplets rise to the surface in 1-2 seconds.
Step 4: Deep fry Dip the paneer pieces in the batter and coat the paneer pieces nicely with the batter. Add the batter-coated paneer pieces carefully to the medium-hot oil.
When one side is lightly golden, use a perforated spoon (Indian jhar) to flip the pakora gently. Fry the paneer pakoras until golden brown and crisp. Remember, do not overcrowd the kadhai. Using a slotted spoon, remove the paneer pakora. To remove excess oil, place them on paper towels.
Step 5: Serve
Serve piping hot paneer pakora garnished with chaat masala and accompanied by green chutney/ tomato ketchup and masala chai.
Stuffed Paneer Pakora Variation
Chutney/ Sauce Sandwich Pakora - You can sandwich two paneer slices with mint cilantro chutney or tomato ketchup. You can also sandwich three slices like a club sandwich with mint cilantro and tamarind chutney. Dip the paneer sandwich in the besan batter and deep fry.
Of course, these chutney sandwich pakoras take a little more time to make as you have to individually stuff each one with chutney. But they look so festive and are delicious.
I have shown two variations of paneer pakora in this post - spiced paneer pakora and chutney sandwich paneer pakora.
You can add some more flavors by adding some grated ginger or paste to the batter. Some people also like to add kasoori method to the batter for a different flavor.
Serving Paneer Pakoras
Pakoras with chutneys are a gastronomic delight. Pair your paneer pakora with a dipping sauce/ chutney of your choice. My favorite ones are cilantro mint chutney and tamarind date chutney. If you love tomato ketchup, then go for it!
Paneer pakora goes well as an anytime snack with a hot cup of masala chai or coffee. This combination is irresistible, especially on a rainy or cold wintery evening!
Assorted pakoras go well with Indian roti/ chapati and dal tadka. It can be a filling meal, and kids thoroughly enjoy it!
Looking for something new - try making a pakora-inspired charcuterie board with an assortment of chutneys and other Indian snacks.
Pro Tips To Make Crispy Pakoras
- Traditionally, the batter is made with only gram flour. However you can add 1-2 tablespoons of rice flour as this makes the pakoras crunchy, while keeping them gluten-free.
- Make a thick flowing consistency batter. If the batter is too thin, it will absorb too much oil while frying. If the batter is too thick, then the pakoras will be doughy and won't taste as good.
- Deep frying the pakoras over medium flame makes them crispier. To keep the frying temperature constant, use a thick-bottomed Kadai or pan.
- Ensure the oil is sufficiently hot, not extremely hot. Pakoras will turn brown outside but will not cook adequately from the inside. Also, they will soak more oil if the oil is too hot.
Frequently Asked Questions
Paneer pakora can be easily refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. When you want to eat, reheat your leftover fritters in a hot, oiled pan until each side is crisp again.
You can also reheat the pakoras in the air fryer. Heat them for 3 minutes at 380F.
Bought paneer in bulk as you found a good deal on it, and wondering how to store it as you can't use all of it right away. Simply freeze it! Cut the block into small cubes and place them on a plate. Freeze this plate until the paneer turns hard on the outside (don't freeze them fully). Place the frozen paneer cubes in a ziplock bag and squeeze out as much air from the bag as you can. Keep the bag in the freezer. If freezing the whole block, wrap it in a cling wrap and then in aluminum foil before freezing it. This will prevent freezer burn. Defrosting large blocks is a challenge and takes time, though. Place the paneer in the refrigerator overnight to allow it to thaw for over 24 hours.
This can happen if the oil is not heated to the right temperature or if the batter is too thin.
More Paneer Recipes
Easy Paneer Pakora
- 250 grams Paneer or Cottage cheese store-bought or homemade
- Oil for frying
Spices for Paneer
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder adjust to taste
- ¼ teaspoon Cumin Powder
- ½ teaspoon Chaat Masala
For stuffed pakora
- 2 tablespoon Mint Cilantro Chutney
- 2 tablespoon Tamarind Chutney
For the batter
- 1 cup Gram flour (Besan)
- ¼ teaspoon Ground Turmeric (Haldi powder)
- ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder adjust to taste
- ½ teaspoon Coriander powder (Dhaniya powder)
- ½ teaspoon Carom seeds (Ajwain)
- ½ teaspoon Chaat Masala
- ½ teaspoon Salt adjust to taste
- ⅓ cup Water plus more as needed to make the batter
- ½ teaspoon Chaat masala optional
- Mint Cilantro Chutney
- Tamarind Chutney
Prepare the batter
- In a bowl, add all the batter ingredients including besan and spices. Add little water as needed to make a thick flowing batter. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes. (See notes if you have less time)
- If using store-bought paneer, blanch the paneer for 10 minutes in hot water. Cut the paneer into cubes (about ¾ inch). You can even cut them in the desired shape like a triangle.
- (For stuffed pakora) Cut the paneer into triangles. Then make 2-3 slices of each triangle depending on chutneys you plan to stuff. Spread chutney on one side and place the other triangle on top.
- Heat oil in a kadai or deep fryer on medium-high flame. You can use any neutral tasting oil with a high smoking point. Once the oil reaches the smoking point, you can test the oil by immersing a few drops of batter in the hot oil. The oil is ready to fry pakoras if the batter droplets rise to the surface quickly and gradually.
- Dip the prepared paneer pieces in the batter and coat them nicely with the batter. Add the batter-coated paneer slices carefully to the medium-hot oil. Remember do not overcrowd the kadhai. Using a slotted spoon, remove the paneer pakora. To remove excess oil, place them on paper towels.
- Fry till the paneer fritters are golden and crisp on all sides. Use a slotted spoon to turn them few times while they cook evenly.Using a slotted spoon, remove the paneer pakoras and transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain excess oil.
- Serve paneer pakora hot or warm, sprinkled with chaat masala, and accompanied by mint cilantro chutney or tomato ketchup and masala chai.
- The batter should be thick, easy to coat and not runny.
- Ensure the batter is lump free. You can use a whisk or an electric mixer to mix the batter.
- In case you are in a hurry, and don't have time to let the batter rest, add a pinch of baking soda to the batter. This will make the pakoras crunchy.
- Frying the pakora in very hot oil will quickly brown or burn the outside batter, leaving the inside batter undercooked and raw.
- Frying the pakoras at a low temperature causes the pakora to absorb more oil, resulting in oily pakoras.
Note: Nutrition values are my best estimates. If you rely on them for your diet, use your preferred nutrition calculator.
Thank you. I am already salivating.
Will try this and will update.