Let me take you on a virtual tour to the rustic by lanes of Amritsar city, Punjab with this recipe of mine, because that’s exactly how you’ll feel once you bite onto a piece of this Paneer Amritsari. The vegetarian version of the famous Amritsari Fish Tikka, this Amritsari Paneer is cottage cheese (paneer) cubes marinated in a spiced gram flour mixture and golden fried. A dish which has a brilliance in taste as well as preparation.
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From The Yester Years
Paneer Amritsari is a scrumptious snack of crisp, shallow-fried marinated paneer cubes. I first got acquainted with the Amritsar special tikka in a cooking test, back in my cooking school years.
Paired in a team of 2, we were handed individual recipes of it which we had to work on. At that time, we were given the popular Amritsari Fish for the test. While I had brought gram flour (besan), ginger-garlic paste and spices from home, my partner got the fish fillets.
I still remember my mother making the fresh ginger-garlic paste (about 500 grams of it) which I had to use for this recipe test. The entire menu that day was for some guests that were expected and the college staff, who would do the taste test.
The quantities were quite huge for each one of us. Because of this, we had to deep fry the marinated and batter coated fish, as it was a quicker way of completing the task. Thankfully, we did well and received good feedback too.
After my personal choice of becoming a vegetarian, I started using the same recipe to make the Amritsari Paneer Tikka using Indian cottage cheese a.k.a paneer. Today, I also make potato (aloo) and cauliflower (gobi) tikkas with the same method. My parents love these variations too.
About This Paneer Amritsari
Sometimes I would just make with gram flour and at times I would add some curd to the marination. Whatever the marinade may be, I always shallow fry the paneer.
You can even deep fry or to make a healthier Paneer Amritsari, just bake or air-fry. Although, keep in mind that this paneer tikka always tastes better when fried.
There are 2 ways to make the Amritsari Paneer. Either marinate the paneer and fry. Or make a batter, dip the paneer cubes in it and fry. I have opted for the first method, that is, mix, marinate and fry the paneer.
The batter version has different proportions and that way the dish becomes more like a pakoda. Since I mentioned it here, this Paneer Pakoda can be your go-to one for the loveliest cottage cheese fritters.
This recipe is quite easy and can be made for kids as an evening snack or a sumptuous starter for your parties. For the party scenes, just arrange the tikkas on a skewer and you’ll have a fancy on-the-go snack ready.
If you are making it for a lot of people on an occasion, just increase the ingredients proportionately.
You can turn the Paneer Amritsari into a Tofu Amritsari by using extra firm tofu in place of paneer. You can even use the fried paneer as a filling in a wrap or roll or sandwiches or burgers.
Sprinkle some chaat masala powder and garnish the Amritsari Paneer with fresh mint/coriander leaves before serving. Also, accompany it with a mint raita, mint chutney, tamarind chutney or your favorite chutney dip.
How to make Paneer Amritsari
Prep and Marinade Paneer
1. Slice 250 grams to 300 grams paneer in slightly thick cubes. If using frozen paneer, just thaw it for some minutes in warm water, before slicing.
2. In a mixing bowl, take 4 tablespoons gram flour (besan).
3. Add all the ground spices:
- ¼ teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain)
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ¼ teaspoon garam masala powder
- ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder or deghi mirch
4. Add 1 teaspoon lemon juice.
5. Add 1.5 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste. If using fresh ginger and garlic, then crush ¾ inch ginger and 4 to 5 medium garlic cloves in a mortar-pestle to a fine paste.
6. Add salt as per taste.
7. Mix everything with a spoon or wired whisk.
8. Add 2 tablespoons water.
9. Mix to a smooth batter without any lumps.
10. Add the paneer cubes.
11. Gently mix the paneer cubes with the marinade, so that the paneer cubes do not break. You can even mix the paneer cubes gently with your hand.
12. Cover the bowl and allow to marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature. If keeping for a longer time, then refrigerate.
You can also marinate for 4 to 5 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. The picture below is the marinated paneer after 30 minutes.
Make Amritsari Paneer
13. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a thick bottomed tawa or frying pan. When the oil becomes hot, place a small paneer piece.
14. This is just to check if the paneer does not stick to the pan and the hotness of the oil. The oil has to be medium hot.
Use a well seasoned pan while frying or else the paneer cubes will stick to the pan.
15. Now, coat the marinade well on the paneer cubes and place them on the tawa or the frying pan.
16. When the base becomes crisp and golden, flip and fry the other side.
17. Flip a couple of times and fry till both sides are crisp, golden and evenly cooked. Slightly thick paneer cubes do not get hard while frying and remain soft even after frying.
However, don’t fry for a long time, as then the paneer cubes will get chewy and dense. Keep on regulating the heat from low to medium while frying.
You can opt to add more oil if needed when frying the marinated paneer in batches.
18. Remove the fried paneer cubes and drain them on kitchen paper towels. Fry the remaining marinated paneer cubes in the same way.
Depending on the size of pan, you can fry all at once or in 2 batches.
19. Serve Amritsari Paneer, sprinkled with some chaat masala powder and a mint or coriander leaves garnish.
Accompany mint chutney, tamarind chutney or mint raita by the side. You can also opt to serve some sliced onions and lemon wedges by the side.
- Substitutes for paneer: Some options are extra firm tofu, parboiled potatoes, blanched cauliflower, parcooked jackfruit (unripe). You can even use frozen paneer. Before slicing it, just thaw in some warm water.
- If you are marinating the paneer for more than 30 minutes or overnight, refrigerate it. Keep the bowl covered with a lid if refrigerating.
- Add the ground spices according to your own taste likings.
- If the paneer cubes are slightly thick, they won’t get hard while frying and remain soft even after frying. However, make sure to not fry for a long time, as then the paneer will turn hard and chewy.
- If baking, bake or grill at 180 degrees C/356 degrees F in a preheated oven till the paneer cubes turn golden and are slightly charred from the edges. Brush some oil or butter on the paneer cubes before baking.
- It makes for an easy and tasty party snack. To make for potlucks and small parties this recipe can be easily scaled up.
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Paneer Amritsari Recipe
- 250 to 300 grams Paneer – chopped in 1.5 to 2 cm cubes
- 4 tablespoons besan (gram flour), can swap with chickpea flour
- ¼ teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain)
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ¼ teaspoon Garam Masala
- ½ teaspoon kashmiri red chilli powder or deghi mirch or paprika
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1.5 teaspoons Ginger Garlic Paste or ¾ inch ginger (about 4 to 5 grams ginger) and 4 to 5 garlic cloves (5 grams garlic without peels), crushed to a paste in mortar-pestle
- 2 tablespoons water
- salt as per taste
- 3 tablespoons oil for shallow frying
- chaat masala as required for sprinkling
- few coriander leaves and mint leaves for garnish
- Slice paneer in slightly thick cubes. If using frozen paneer, then just thaw it for some minutes in warm water, before slicing.
- In a mixing bowl add all ingredients except oil, paneer cubes, chaat masala, coriander and mint leaves.
- Mix every thing very well with a spoon or wired whisk to a smooth batter mixture without any lumps.
- Now add the paneer cubes. Toss the bowl and gently mix the paneer cubes with the marinade, so that the paneer cubes do not break. You can even mix the paneer cubes gently with your hand.
- Cover the bowl and allow to marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature. If keeping for longer time, then refrigerate. You can also marinate for 4 to 5 hours or overnight in the fridge.
Making paneer amritsari
- Now heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a thick bottomed tawa/skillet or a frying pan. When the oil becomes hot, place a small paneer cube.
- This is just to check if the paneer does not stick to the pan and the hotness of the oil. The oil has to be medium hot. Do use a well seasoned pan while frying, or else the paneer cubes will stick to the pan.
- Now coat the marination well on the cubes and place them on the tawa.
- When the base becomes crisp and golden, flip and fry the other side.
- Flip a couple of times and fry till both sides are crisp, golden and evenly cooked. Slightly thick paneer cubes do not get hard while frying and remain soft even after frying.
- However, don't fry for a long time, as then the paneer cubes will get dense. Keep on regulating the flame from low to medium while frying.
- Remove the fried paneer cubes and drain them on kitchen paper towels. Fry the remaining in the same way. Depending on the size of pan, you can fry all at once or in two batches.
- Serve Paneer Amritsari hot sprinkled with some chaat masala powder and a mint or coriander leaves garnish. Accompany mint chutney, tamarind chutney or a mint raita by the side. You can also serve a side of thinly sliced onions and lemon wedges to go with the Amritsari Paneer.
- Tofu, half boiled potatoes, blanched cauliflower can be used instead of paneer.
- You can add the spices as per your taste preferences.
- If baking then bake/grill at 180 degrees C/356 degrees F in a preheated oven till the paneer cubes become golden or slightly charred from the edges. Brush some oil on the paneer cubes before baking.
- This recipe can be easily scaled to suit your requirements.
- Use soft and fresh paneer and make sure it is not rancid.
- If needed you can add some more oil while frying in batches.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This Paneer Amritsari recipe from the archives first published in June 2016 has been updated and republished on May 2023.