With a fried, crispy outside and soft, cheesy inside, Paneer Pakora is a cheese fritter delight for an amazing Indian snack!
Paneer pakora is India’s take on cheese fritters. These cheesy bites are deliciously crisp and pleasantly moist at the same time. They’re an incredibly popular snack in India because they’re so easy to make, and they utilize spices that you likely already have at home if you cook with Indian flavors.
This snack is usually served with sauces, chutney (or ketchup) for dipping. I recommend my favorite pudina (or mint) chutney, or tomato chutney to add a note of freshness to these fried Indian fritters.
With a little rice flour to make this cheese pakora extra crispy and a bounty of Indian spices in every bite, this recipe is truly addicting!
For another side dish with similar savory, spicy flavors, try my chickpea masala recipe. It’s very quick to make and is packed with authentic Indian spices. For fans of paneer cheese, try Paneer Butter Masala. This masala has paneer cheese cubed into a delicious, buttery Indian curry.
paneer pakora, pakoda, pakodi, bahji, cheese fritters
snack or appetizer
Difficulty: Easy 🥄
Cheese fritters made from paneer cheese, battered with seasoned flour, and pan fried until crispy and golden brown.
INGREDIENTS IN PANEER PAKORA
- Paneer - This fresh, Indian cheese will be easiest to find in an Indian grocery store, Fred Meyer, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's or online. It’s easy to cut into cubes and won’t melt when fried.
- Chili Powder - We’ll add this to both our cheesy cubes and batter, giving the whole dish a nice heat that isn’t overpowering.
- Chaat Masala - Sour, salty, spicy, and tangy all in one. Its irreplaceable flavor is hard to substitute.
- Garam Masala - This spice gives our cheese fritters a tangy heat. You can get it at any grocery store or make it fresh (my recipe) right at home.
- Besan Flour - A flour made from very finely ground split yellow chickpeas. A possible substitute for besan flour that has a similar flavor and texture, could be a different legume flour. Lentil, fava bean, dal, or soybean flour would all do the trick.
- Rice Flour - We’ll add this to our batter to get our paneer pakora extra crispy!
- Fenugreek Leaves - Fenugreek is somewhat sweet and pleasantly scented like maple.
- Turmeric - This classic Indian spice is earthy and is what gives many Indian dishes their trademark yellow/orange color.
Substitutes for besan flour
- Besan flour is made from split yellow chickpeas that are very finely ground. Split chickpea flour is called besan in Hindi, but it is not exactly the same as traditional chickpea flour.
- Regular chickpea flour (also known as garbanzo bean flour) is made from a different type of chickpea, and the texture is more coarse, but can be used.
- For a similar flavor and and texture to besan, use a different legume flour. Good choices include lentil, fava bean, dal, or soybean flour.
HOW TO MAKE PANEER PAKORA, CHEESE FRITTERS
- Cut Paneer Cubes. Chop the cheese into bite-sized cubes and transfer into a bowl. Sprinkle over the chili powder, garam masala, chaat masala, and salt. Toss it all together.
- Mix the Batter. In a separate bowl, combine the batter ingredients. Gradually mix in ⅔ cup of warm water and whisk well until you have a very smooth batter with no clumps.
- Prepare Your Pan. Generously coat a shallow frying pan with vegetable oil. Heat to 350°F.
- Coat and Fry. Take a few of the seasoned cubes, dip into the batter, and fry. Once golden brown on all sides, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and remove excess oil.
- Serve and Enjoy! I recommend serving your finished dish with catsup, authentic tomato chutney, or refreshing pudina chutney.
COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is paneer cheese and what does it taste like?
Paneer cheese is a soft, unaged cheese that is very popular in vegetarian Indian recipes. It comes unsalted, doesn't melt, and has a mild and creamy flavor. The fluffiness of the cheese comes from mixing curdled hot milk with a combination of lemon, lime, vinegar, yogurt, and citric acids. Paneer cheese will hold its shape and is popular in many Indian side dishes.
It often time is called Indian cottage cheese. Why, I do not know, it doesn't resemble cottage cheese in the least to me.
What is the best way to reheat paneer pakora?
To store paneer pakora, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to three days. When ready, fry your leftover fritters in a heated, oiled pan until each side is nice and crispy again.
Can I freeze the paneer cubes?
Freezing a fresh cheese such as paneer does make it lose its color and texture. If you try to make paneer pakora after freezing, it may begin to crumble and be difficult to fry.
However, if you need to freeze the cheese, you can cube the cheese ahead of time and place the pieces on a tray. Freeze the cubes most of the way. Then put them in an airtight container, and return to the freezer. The cheese should last 1 ½ - 2 months.
Paneer Pakora (Cheese Fritters)
- 8 oz. paneer cheese
- ½ teaspoon kashmiri chili powder or chili powder of choice
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon chaat masala optional
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 cups vegetable oil for frying
- 1 cup besan flour (See Note 1)
- 3 tablespoon rice flour
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek leaves
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon kashmiri chili powder or chili powder of choice
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
- Add chili powder, garam masala, chaat masala and salt to a mixing bowl; whisk to combine.
- Cut pakora into bite size cubes. Transfer to bowl of spices and toss to combine.
- Add batter ingredients to a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Slowly incorporate ⅔ cup warm water, whisking to form a smooth batter.
- Heat cooking oil in a shallow frying pan to 350°F.
- Dip each paneer cube into the batter, gently shake off excess, and fry a few at a time until golden brown on all sides. Keep cooked pakoras warm on a tray in the oven.
- Serve with pudina chutney, tomato chutney or other dipping sauce of choice.
- Besan flour is made from split yellow chickpeas that are very finely ground. Split chickpea flour is called besan in Hindi, but it is not exactly the same as traditional chickpea flour. That flour (also known as garbanzo bean flour) is made from a different type of chickpea, and the texture is more coarse. For a similar flavor and and texture to besan, use a different legume flour. Good choices include lentil, fava bean, dal, or soybean flour.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.