Kulcha is an omnipresent dish in the food culture of Punjab and a few other North Indian states. Here, I’m sharing a yum variation of the regular kulcha, that is Paneer Kulcha. This recipe has a spiced, savory and lightly tangy paneer (Indian cottage cheese) filling making for a crisp and soft tender flatbread.
Table of Contents
Kulcha At Home
Paneer Kulcha sits at the top of the kulcha list for my family. I make it similar to the way I make the Paneer Paratha.
So, you may ask, what exactly is the difference between the two? One important thing that is a feature of distinction between the two is the dough. Unleavened dough is what is used for a paratha and kulchas are prepared with a leavened one.
Yeast or baking soda are used as common leavening agents for the kulcha dough. In this Paneer Kulcha recipe, I have used baking soda. The dough for this and my Aloo Kulcha recipe are alike.
Traditionally, all kulchas are made in a tandoor (clay oven). Residential or home ovens usually do not have high temperatures as compared to a tandoor or commercial ovens.
For this reason, baking in a home oven could result in hard kulchas. So I tend to make them on a cast iron skillet (or tawa) which results in evenly cooked and soft kulcha every time. You too, give it a try.
About Paneer Kulcha
At dhabas (roadside eateries) and restaurants, you will find kulchas made only with all-purpose flour or maida. But at home, I add both whole wheat flour or atta and all-purpose flour in equal quantities. Makes it a little more wholesome.
If you plan to make the Paneer Kulcha completely with whole wheat flour, then it will taste exactly like the aloo paratha.
I have not added onion or garlic in this recipe. But you can freely add some finely chopped onions/garlic in the paneer filling.
The spice level in the paneer filling can be adjusted without a second thought. Whether to make it more or less spicy, that’s in your hand. Green chilies can be added for the extra fieriness.
Paneer Kulcha is a lovely tiffin snack too. A thing to keep in mind is that unlike the Aloo Kulcha, Paneer Kulcha is a bit dry.
Though, the kulcha stays soft even after cooking, it is better to serve it with some Dal Makhani, Chana Masala or Curd, Butter or Mango Pickle for sure. My folks and I really enjoy it with a Mixed Sprouts Curry as well.
How to make Paneer Kulcha
Make Kulcha Dough
1. In a mixing bowl, take 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour.
2. Then, add the following ingredients:
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons curd/yogurt
- 1 tablespoon oil or ghee
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt or as required
3. With a spoon or with your fingers, lightly mix everything.
4. Add water in parts. First add ¼ cup water and then later while kneading, a little less than ¼ cup.
The amount of water to be added depends on the quality of flours. So, add accordingly.
5. Mix and then begin to knead.
6. Knead to a smooth, soft, pliable dough. Cover the dough with a moist kitchen towel or cotton napkin. Set aside for 2 hours to leaven the dough.
Make Paneer Stuffing
7. Before preparing kulcha, crumble or grate 200 grams paneer. If the paneer is fresh and soft, then you can crumble easily.
Make sure to make even and fine crumble. Any bigger chunks or pieces will make for the stuffing to come out of the dough.
8. Add 1 or 2 green chilies (about ½ to 1 teaspoon finely chopped ) and 3 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves (cilantro).
You can also use mint leaves instead of coriander leaves or half-half of both.
9. Then, add the following spices:
- ¼ teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain)
- ¼ teaspoon red chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon garam masala powder
- ½ teaspoon dried mango powder (amchur)
- salt as per taste
Note that instead of carom seeds, you can use cumin seeds. Instead of dried mango powder, you can use chaat masala.
Some other substitutes for dried mango powder are dried pomegranate seeds powder (anardana powder) or lemon/lime juice, added as per taste. There should be just a faint sour taste in the paneer stuffing.
10. Mix the ground spices and herbs with the crumbled or grated paneer to make an even mixture.
Check the taste and add more of the salt, green chilies, red chili powder, garam masala powder and dried mango powder if required. Cover and set aside.
Stuff & Roll Paneer Kulcha
11. After 2 hours, lightly knead the dough again.
12. Make medium size balls from the kulcha dough. If you want, you can keep the dough balls covered with moist kitchen towel to leaven for some 15 to 20 minutes before stuffing and rolling them.
13. Dust the dough balls with whole wheat flour. Here, I have placed it in the whole wheat flour container, which I use for sprinkling flour while making chapati or paratha.
14. With a rolling pin, roll it into a disc of 5 to 6 inches diameter.
15. Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of the paneer stuffing in the center. Keep 1 to 1.5 inches space all over the circumference.
16. Bring the edges together and join them at the center.
17. Press the joined edges at the top and sprinkle some sesame seeds. Press the sesame seeds with your fingers or very lightly with the rolling pin so that they get stuck to the dough.
Adding sesame seeds is optional. You can skip them.
18. Sprinkle some flour and gently roll to a large disc of about 6 to 7 inches in diameter.
Cook Paneer Kulcha
19. On a hot tawa or skillet, gently place the stuffed kulcha.
20. Flip over when one side is partly cooked.
21. Spread some ghee or oil on this side of kulcha. The amount of ghee or oil to be added, depends on you. You can either add less or more or skip it altogether.
22. Flip again.
23. Now, spread some ghee or oil on this side.
24. Flip again.
25. Press the edges of the kulcha with a spatula to ensure that they are cooked.
26. Flip once or twice to ensure even roasting and cooking. Place them in a roti basket. Add ½ to 1 teaspoon of butter and spread it with a butter knife or spoon.
Prepare all the paneer kulcha with the above method and stack them up. After making each kulcha, wipe the pan or tawa with a cotton kitchen towel to get rid of the browned or burnt flour particles.
You can also serve the kulcha straightaway from the tawa to the plate.
27. Serve Paneer Kulcha hot or warm with butter, curd, mango pickle or chana masala or any chana or legume curry of your choice.
- Substitutes: Swap ¼ teaspoon baking powder for baking soda. Use chaat masala, dried pomegranate powder or lemon/lime juice instead of dried mango powder. Sub cumin seeds for carom seeds; mint leaves for coriander leaves, or use half-half of both.
- Make this kulcha by using an equal ratio of both whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour.
- While kneading the dough, how much water has to be used will depend on the quality of flour.
- Sesame seeds is optional in this recipe. It can be skipped.
- You can roast the Paneer Kulcha on the pan or tawa with ghee, oil or none. Its completely your choice. Make it vegan by using oil and serving with plant-based yogurt.
- Get rid of the browned or burnt flour particles on the pan by wiping them with a cotton kitchen towel. Do this after cooking each Paneer Kulcha.
Sugar is added as it helps the dough to leaven.
It takes about 6 to 8 minutes to knead a soft and smooth dough.
No, as a paratha is made with an unleavened dough and a kulcha is made with a leavened dough.
I would suggest not to do so as using only whole wheat flour will result in a kulcha with a taste similar to that of an aloo paratha.
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Paneer Kulcha Recipe
For kulcha dough
- 1 cup whole wheat flour – 120 grams
- 1 cup all purpose flour – 125 grams
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons Curd (yogurt)
- 1 tablespoon oil or ghee
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt or add as per taste
- ⅓ to ½ cup water or add as required
For paneer stuffing
- 200 grams Paneer (Indian cottage cheese)
- 3 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
- 1 or 2 green chilies – chopped or ½ to 1 teaspoon finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon red chilli powder
- ¼ teaspoon Garam Masala
- ¼ teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain) – swap cumin seeds with carom seeds
- ½ teaspoon dry mango powder (amchur powder)
- salt as required
- oil or ghee as required for roasting
- butter as required
- sesame seeds as required – optional
Make kulcha dough
- In a mixing bowl take all the ingredients mentioned "for kulcha dough" above, except water.
- Then with a spoon or with your fingers lightly mix everything.
- First add ¼ cup water. Add water in parts while kneading. The amount of water to be added, depends on the quality of flours. So add accordingly.
- Mix and then begin to knead.
- Add 2 to 3 tablespoons more water or as required and knead to a smooth soft dough. Cover the dough with a moist kitchen towel and keep aside for 2 hours for it to leaven.
Making paneer stuffing
- Before preparing kulcha, crumble or grate paneer. If the paneer is fresh and soft, then you can crumble easily.Ensure that you make a fine crumble and not uneven with large chunks as these may come out from the dough while rolling.
- Add all the herbs, ground spices powders and salt to the paneer.
- Mix the spices and herbs with the crumbled paneer very well.
- Check the taste and add more of the salt, green chilies, red chili powder, garam masala powder and dry mango powder if required. Cover and keep aside.
Stuffing and rolling paneer kulcha
- After 2 hours, lightly knead the dough again.
- Make medium sized balls from the kulcha dough. If you want you can keep the dough balls covered with moist kitchen napkin for another 15 to 20 minutes before stuffing and rolling.
- Dust the dough balls with some whole wheat flour.
- With a rolling pin, roll it into a diameter of 5 to 6 inches diameter.
- Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of the paneer stuffing in the center. Keep 1 to 1.5 inches space all over the circumference.
- Bring the edges together and join them at the center.
- Press the joined edges at top and sprinkle some sesame seeds.
- Press the sesame seeds with your fingers or very lightly with the rolling pin so that they get stuck to the dough. Adding sesame seeds is optional. You can skip it.
- Sprinkle some flour as needed and gently roll to a large disc of about 6 to 7 inches in diameter.
Making paneer kulcha
- On a hot tava or skillet, gently place the stuffed kulcha.
- Flip over when one side is partly cooked. Spread some ghee or oil on this side of paneer kulcha. The amount of ghee or oil to be added, depends upon you. You can either add less or more or skip it altogether.
- Flip again and spread some ghee or oil on this second cooked side.
- Flip again a few times as needed to ensure even roasting and cooking. Press the edges with a spatula to ensure that they are cooked.
- Once evenly cooked and roasted, place the paneer kulcha in a roti basket. Add ½ to 1 teaspoon of butter and spread it with a butter knife or spoon.
- Make all the paneer kulcha with the above method and stack them up in the roti basket. You can also choose to serve them straightaway from the skillet or tawa to the plate.
- After making each paneer kulcha, wipe the skillet or tawa with a cotton kitchen towel to get rid of the browned or burnt flour particles.
- Serve paneer kulcha hot or warm with butter, curd or mango pickle or punjabi chole or any chana curry of your choice.
- Baking soda – use ¼ teaspoon baking powder instead
- Dry mango powder – chaat masala or dry pomegranate powder or lemon juice to give a slight tangy taste to the paneer stuffing.
- Coriander leaves – swap with fresh mint leaves
- The recipe can be made entirely with whole wheat flour but the taste and texture will be more like paneer paratha. You could also make the paneer kulcha with only all-purpose flour.
- Use soft homemade paneer. Make sure that the paneer is fresh and not rancid or tasting bitter.
- If you do not prefer the typical aroma of baking soda, add 1 to 2 pinches of it or use baking powder.
- You can use instant yeast too to leaven the dough. If you are experienced in using yeast, then use about ¼ teaspoon instant yeast (rapid rise yeast) and proof and work on the dough accordingly. Omit adding baking soda or baking powder if using yeast.
- Knead the dough to get a smooth and soft texture.
- Any leftover dough can be used to make a simple plain kulcha or flavored ones.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This Paneer Kulcha recipe from the archives first published in September 2016 has been updated and republished on July 2022.