instant pot chilli paneer gravy

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Instant pot chilli paneer gravy is a Chinese style recipe of cottage cheese cubes in a spicy, sour, sweet, umami chilli sauce. This is a fusion recipe having the best of both Indian and Chinese cuisine. A widely popular dish in Chinese restaurants in India.

instant pot chilli paneer served in an oval white bowl with wooden chopsticks on left side on a wooden board

This spicy cottage cheese dish is one of my favorite recipes too. I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of paneer, but one paneer dish that I really like is this one.

I remember going to any restaurant for dinner and without fail, I would order paneer chilli with some naan or tandoori roti.

Here is my version of making this famous fusion Indo Chinese recipe in the instant pot.

There are two variants- a dry or semi-dry version and a sauce or gravy based version. If you want to make the stovetop dry version or semi-dry version then kindly check this recipe – Chilli paneer – restaurant style semi-dry version

About instant pot chilli paneer gravy

  1. Paneer: best is to add homemade paneer in the recipe. But if short of time then you can also use a good quality store brought paneer. Make sure the paneer is fresh and soft. You can even use malai paneer.
  2. No msg: (monosodium glutamate or ajinomoto): I generally don’t add msg or ajinomoto to any of the Indo Chinese recipes I make at home. So the taste will be not restaurant-style or like the Chinese food we get at the Chinese food stalls in India. But the taste will be good.
  3. Thickeners:  potato starch, corn starch (known as cornflour in India) and tapioca starch are the three thickeners you can use in the recipe for thickening the sauce. All three are easily available in the market or online. I have used tapioca starch.
  4. Soy sauce: best is to use naturally fermented soy sauce. You can even replace soy sauce with bragg liquid aminos. I personally find bragg liquid aminos having a nice complex taste and flavor than soy sauce.
  5. Cooking time: the recipe takes less time in the instant pot then when made in a wok or pan. Paneer cubes are fried separately. To save time you can skip frying paneer cubes and add them directly to the sauce.
  6. Vegan options: to veganize the recipe, use seitan or tofu or tempeh.
  7. Serving suggestions: Serve with veg noodles, steamed rice, fried rice, dinners rolls or naan bread. I usually serve with naan or roti as this combination is liked by my folks.

instant pot chilli paneer served in an oval white bowl with wooden chopsticks on left side on a wooden board

How to make instant pot chilli paneer gravy

Frying paneer
1. In a bowl take paneer cubes (200 to 250 grams). Sprinkle 3 tablespoons tapioca starch or corn starch (cornflour) or potato starch. Also add ¼ teaspoon red chilli powder, ¼ teaspoon crushed black pepper, ¼ teaspoon salt or add as per taste and ½ teaspoon braggs liquid aminos or soy sauce.

In a bowl take paneer cubes, tapioca starch and spices for marination
2. Gently toss the paneer pieces in this mixture well so that the cornflour and seasonings coats the paneer cubes well. The the tapioca starch or corn starch coating gives a nice white color to the paneer.

mix so that cornflour and seasonings coats the paneer cubes

3. Heat 6 to 7 tablespoons oil for frying in a frying pan or kadai. When the oil becomes hot, add the paneer cubes. You can shallow fry or pan fry or deep fry the paneer cubes. Here we are shallow frying.

frying paneer cubes in oil in a pan

4. When one side is light golden, turn over and fry the second side.

frying paneer cubes in oil in a pan

5. Then turn over and continue to fry till light golden. Do not fry for too long as then paneer becomes dense and hard.

frying paneer cubes in oil in a pan

6. Remove fried paneer cubes and place them on kitchen paper towels.

fried paneer cubes on kitchen paper towels

Making starch slurry or paste

7. In a small bowl add 1 tablespoon tapioca starch or corn starch or potato starch and 2 tablespoons water.

 In a small bowl add 1 tablespoon tapioca starch and 2 tablespoons water

8. Mix very well.

mix tapioca starch and water

Mixing sauces

9. In another small bowl take 2 tablespoons bragg liquid aminos or 1 tablespoon soy sauce or add as required, 1 teaspoon red chilli sauce , 1 teaspoon green chilli sauce, 1 teaspoon rice vinegar or white vinegar or apple cider vinegar.

added sauces and vinegar in a bowl

10. Mix very well and keep aside.

mix the sauces and vinegar mixture

Sautéing

11. Press the saute button on the instant pot on normal mode. Set the timer to 5 minutes.

Press the saute button on the instant pot on normal mode

12. Add 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil and let the oil become hot (not smoking hot or sizzling hot). Add ¼ cup chopped spring onions or scallions, 1 to 2 green chillies (slit or diagonally sliced), 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger and 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic.

add spring onions, green chillies, ginger and garlic in oil in instant pot

13. Sauté for 1 minute.

 Sauté the mixture for 1 minute.

14. Then add ⅓ to ½ cup thinly sliced capsicum (green bell pepper).

adding ⅓ to ½ cup thinly sliced capsicum

15. Sauté for 1 minute.

Sauté capsicum for 1 minute

16. You can press the cancel button if you want. Then add the premixed sauce mixture.

add the premixed sauce mixture

17. Mix very well.

mix well

18. Add 1 cup water.

Add 1 cup water

19. Mix again and deglaze.

Mix again and deglaze

Simmering

20. Press the sauté button again on normal mode and set the time to 5 minutes.

Press the sauté button again on normal mode and set the time to 5 minutes

21. Let the entire mixture come to a boil.

bring mixture come to a boil

22. Add the tapioca starch paste or corn starch paste or potato starch paste.

Add the tapioca starch paste

23. Mix very well so that no lumps are formed. Stir and mix as soon as you add the paste or slurry so that lumps are not formed.

mix and stir

24. Simmer for a few minutes till the sauce thickens and becomes glossy. The raw taste of tapioca starch or corn starch should not be there.

Simmer for a few minutes till the sauce thickens and becomes glossy

25. Sprinkle ½ to 1 teaspoon sugar, salt and crushed black pepper as required. Mix again well. Do keep a check on the salt as the sauces already have salt in them. Thus add less salt.

adding sugar, salt and crushed black pepper and mix again

26. Press cancel button and add fried paneer cubes.

Press cancel button and add fried paneer cubes

27. Then add and 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped spring onion greens or scallion greens.

adding chopped spring onion greens

28. Mix well.

mix again

29. Serve instant pot chilli paneer gravy hot garnished with some spring onion green (scallion greens) as a side with noodles or fried rice or dinner rolls or bread or roti.

instant pot chilli paneer served in an oval white bowl with wooden chopsticks on left side on a wooden board

More Tasty Paneer Recipes

This recipe is from the archives and has been recently updated to the instant pot version on 10 January 2020. 

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instant pot chilli paneer served in an oval white bowl with wooden chopsticks on left side on a wooden board

Instant Pot Chilli Paneer Gravy

4.92 from 25 votes
A spicy, sour and umami indo Chinese recipe of chilli paneer gravy made in the instant pot.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr

Cuisine Indo Chinese
Course: Main Course

Servings 3
Units

Ingredients

for frying paneer

  • 200 to 250 grams Paneer (cottage cheese)
  • 3 tablespoons tapioca starch or cornflour (corn starch) or potato starch
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder or crushed black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon red chilli powder or cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt or add as required
  • ½ teaspoon bragg liquid aminos or soy sauce
  • 6 to 7 tablespoons oil for frying paneer or add as required

for mixing sauces

  • 2 tablespoons bragg liquid aminos or 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli sauce
  • 1 teaspoon green chilli sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar or white vinegar or apple cider vinegar

for starch paste or slurry

  • 1 tablespoon tapioca starch or cornflour (corn starch) or potato starch
  • 2 tablespoons water

other ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil or any oil like sunflower oil
  • ¼ cup chopped spring onion whites (scallion whites) - reserve some greens for garnishing
  • 1 to 2 green chillies or serrano peppers - slit or diagonally sliced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped celery - optional
  • ⅓ to ½ cup thinly sliced capsicum (green bell pepper)
  • 1 cup water or vegetable stock
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon sugar or add as required
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder or crushed black pepper or add as required
  • salt add as required
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped spring onion greens or scallion greens

Instructions

frying paneer

  • Mix, toss and coat the paneer cubes with the starch, red chilli powder, crushed black pepper, salt and bragg liquid aminos or soy sauce.
  • Heat 6 to 7 tablespoons oil for frying in a frying pan or kadai. When the oil becomes hot, add the paneer cubes. 
  • When one side is light golden, turn over and fry the second side. Then turn over and continue to fry till light golden. Do not fry for too long as paneer will become hard.
  •  remove fried paneer cubes and place them on kitchen paper towels.
  • Do not fry the paneer cubes for too long as then they will become dense.

making starch slurry or paste

  • In a small bowl add 1 tablespoon tapioca starch or corn starch or potato starch and 2 tablespoons water. Mix very well.

mixing sauces

  • In another small bowl take 2 tablespoons braggs liquid aminos or 1 tablespoon soy sauce or add as required, 1 teaspoon red chilli sauce , 1 teaspoon green chilli sauce, 1 teaspoon rice vinegar or white vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
  • mix very well and keep aside.

sautéing

  • Press the saute button on the instant pot on normal mode. Set the timer to 5 minutes.
  • Add 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil and let the oil become hot (not smoking hot or very hot but just hot).
  • Then add spring onions or scallions, green chillies, finely chopped ginger and finely chopped garlic. Sauté for a minute.
  • Add ⅓ to ½ cup thinly sliced capsicum and sauté for a minute. If adding celery, then add at this step when adding capsicum.
  • You can press the cancel button if you want. Then add the premixed sauce mixture. Mix very well
  • Add 1 cup water and stir well. Deglaze the inner pot.
  • Press the sauté button again on normal mode and set the timer to 5 minutes.
  • Let the entire mixture come to a simmer or boil.
  • Add the tapioca starch paste or corn starch paste or potato starch paste.
  • Mix very well so that no lumps are formed. Stir and mix as soon as you add the paste or slurry so that lumps are not formed.
  • Simmer for a few minutes till the sauce thickens and becomes glossy. The raw taste of tapioca starch or corn starch should not be there.
  • Sprinkle ½ to 1 teaspoon sugar, crushed black pepper and salt as required. Mix again well. Do keep a check on salt as the sauces already have salt in them. Thus add less salt.
  • Press the cancel button and add fried paneer cubes and 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped spring onion greens or scallion greens. Mix well.
  • Serve instant pot chilli paneer gravy hot garnished with some scallion greens as a side with noodles or fried rice or dinner rolls or bread or roti.

Notes

  1. Thick or thin sauce: to make the gravy or sauce more thick, add less water. if the gravy has become too thick, then add some veg stock or water to thin it down.
  2. Paneer: best is to use homemade paneer. If short of time then use a good quality store brought paneer. Make sure the paneer is fresh and soft. You can even use malai paneer.
  3. Soy sauce: the best taste comes from either using bragg liquid aminos or naturally fermented soy sauce. I personally find bragg liquid aminos having a nice complex taste and flavor than soy sauce.
  4. Cooking time: the recipe takes less time in the instant pot then when made in a wok or pan. Paneer cubes are fried separately. To save time you can skip frying paneer cubes and add them directly to the sauce.
  5. Chilli sauces: both the red chilli sauces and green chilli sauce added in the recipe are spicy sauces and not sweet. You can even replace red chilli sauce with sriracha sauce. 
  6. Vegan options: replace paneer with tofu or seitan or tempeh. 
  7. Gluten free variations: Use gluten free soy sauce or bragg liquid aminos and potato starch or tapioca starch in the recipe. 

Nutrition Info Approximate values

Nutrition Facts
Instant Pot Chilli Paneer Gravy
Amount Per Serving
Calories 381 Calories from Fat 279
% Daily Value*
Fat 31g48%
Saturated Fat 12g75%
Cholesterol 44mg15%
Sodium 1022mg44%
Potassium 52mg1%
Carbohydrates 16g5%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 11g22%
Vitamin A 194IU4%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin C 19mg23%
Vitamin E 2mg13%
Vitamin K 20µg19%
Calcium 331mg33%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 7µg2%
Iron 1mg6%
Magnesium 3mg1%
Phosphorus 4mg0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Dassana Amit

Meet Dassana

Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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86 Comments

  1. Mam am ur one of the old follower ,i jus love ur recepies well explained,helpfull for beiginners ur step by step pics really helps a lot ,hearty thanks have a happy n healthy life, thanks a lot5 stars

  2. hello dassana,
    I have one question, can I use arrowroot powder in place of corn starch or corn flour.
    I want to make this dish on my father’s b’day.
    regards.5 stars

  3. Super recipes all are delicious and very mouthwatering one’s.
    All your recipes are healthy. ????????????????????

  4. Thanks. I made chilly paneer today n added 1 tspn tomato ketchup. it was very tasty n every body liked it. Especially my brother, father and mom really appreciate me.

    1. yes you can add tomato and chilli sauce. but don’t add too much of tomato sauce, then the gravy becomes sweet. just add a bit.

  5. awesome fantastic dish – made it for my wife this morning and she loved it – thank you so much from Canada 🙂5 stars

  6. Hi Dassana,

    I made chilli paneer to go with fried rice (as mentioned in your site). However, the pungent quotient was a bit high. Next time, shall avoid chilli powder.

    Quick, easy and tasty recipe though 🙂

    Thanks!5 stars

    1. thanks sulekha. the heat or pungent quotient is relative to taste. for some people even a bit of chilies or chili powder, becomes too much spicy or hot. this also depends on the kind of chili powder we use. if you use a mild chili powder, then you won’t feel it to be spicy. next time you can add less chilies, both the green chilies and red chili powder, so that is suits you and your family member.

  7. Thankyou so much for thisspecial and easy to cook dish
    I totally enjoyed it with my hubby

  8. So very delicious, we devoured it in minutes and could have gone again! Will become a regular dish in this household. Thank you.5 stars

    1. welcome sarah. glad to know this. thanks for sharing this positive feedback and for your rating.

  9. Hello!

    After frying paneer into golden red colour, paneer has become hard.

    How to make softer paneer

    1. if the paneer are fried too much, they become hard. a tip is to soak the fried paneer cubes in warm water for 5 minutes. then remove them and slightly squeeze them and add them to the gravy or sauce.

  10. Chilli paneer and fried rice combination was awesome. Wife liked it very much

  11. Your way of cooking is really very easy and the method you choose to tell the recipe will also get positive comments. I am gonna try this tonight for sure. Thank you. (Hope my hubby likes it too).5 stars

    1. welcome kanu. thanks for your kind words. i hope you all like the recipe.

  12. Hey,

    Tried ur recipe . Everybody loved it 🙂
    Wanted to ask 1 thing- do you recommend chinese sauces of particular brand coz mine dont really have much taste! !

    1. Thanks RJ. I only use naturally fermented soy sauce and have never used any other chinese sauce brands.

  13. Wonderful recipe….I was thinking of making it for my daughter’s bday party. What preparations can I do in advance ?

    1. just fry the paneer a day before and refrigerate. the sauce you can make on the b’day.

  14. hey! Thanks for such an Awesome Recipe! This was my first biggest dish ever made! For the Account I’m 17!
    Everybody at my place loved it!!!
    Thank you Very Much Again!!!!5 stars

    1. welcome parth. nice to know that you are cooking journey has started on a big note. keep trying more recipes and nurture the cook within you.

  15. I am a big fan of your website and decided to try the dish. The problem was no matter how much cornflour i added the consistency of the gravy remained same. What do you think went wrong during the preparation? I use olive oil instead of sesame oil.

    1. thanks aarti. you added cornflour or corn starch. corn starch is white in color. in india corn starch is called as corn flour, so i have to use this word in the recipes. whereas corn flour is yellow in color and in india we call it maize flour or makki ka atta. it has got nothing to do with oil.

  16. Hi, your recipe looks awesome. I am thinking of making it as my husband is fond of Indian Chinese but can I fry the paneer and freeze it and use later to make chili paneer as and when he demands for his fav food
    Thanks

    1. you can fry the paneer and freeze them. but just fry the paneer without the cornflour marination.

  17. Yaaaa yummy paneer dish and very easy to make view simple decisive method explained.

  18. Ur dish is awesome dassana….bt I hav a very stupid ques to ask that what is celery and instead of using spring onions can we use onions simple….??

    1. hi parul. celery is a herb that is used in european and chinese cooking. like how we use coriander and mint in indian food. in the same way herbs like celery, parsley, basil, rosemary, thyme etc are used in world cuisine. the celery stem is used and not the leaves. here’s a lot of info on celery – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celery

      you can use onions instead of spring onions. in fact even in restaurants, they add onions instead of spring onions. just skip the celery if you don’t have it.

    1. prashanth, for the dry version you don’t need to add cornflour paste and water. after you add the paneer to the fried chilies and onions, just sprinkle a little bit of cornflour and add stir for a couple of minutes. this will give a glaze and smoothness to the paneer. you can also sprinkle some drops of water and saute for a couple of minutes.

  19. Tried your recipe. The step by step method made it so much easy and simple to cook and the dish came out perfect. Thank you.

  20. HI DASSANA,
    Ur awesome illustration made my cooking yry easy…thanks:)5 stars

  21. Hi
    First time in your space. Went through it. OMG very nice collection of dishes. Following you

  22. this might sound stupid but i always wonder what is the difference in paneer manchurian and chilli paneer. they are almost identical when i see the recipes.

    1. there is a difference in what i have seen in the way these two dishes are prepared. in this dish, there are a lot of green chillies added as compared to the paneer manchurian. also in manchurian, tomato sauce is added which is not added here.

  23. this is in my list for long time but don’t get chance to make it soon. this looks really delicious. I am not big fan of indo chinese but my hubby is. So now i have to make it for him.