Paneer pakora are a quick evening snack that has a lovely crispy texture with a moist, soft paneer from within. Mainly made with Paneer and gram flour this delicious paneer pakoda comes together under 30 minutes and is sure to become your favorite.
Indian cuisine has a variety of pakora that is made with different vegetables or with paneer or cheese.
‘Pakora‘ or ‘pakoda‘ is the Hindi term for fried fritters. In Indian cooking, the flour that we always include to make fritters is gram flour.
Skinned small black chickpeas are ground finely or coarsely to make gram flour also known as besan.
Paneer is fresh non-melting Indian cottage cheese made by curdling milk with a food acid. So no prizes for guessing that paneer pakora is a deep fried fritter made with paneer and gram flour.
By the way paneer is a firm cheese and can be easily cut or sliced in various shapes. The texture of Paneer is totally different from the American cottage cheese.
Paneer pakoda is a popular pakora variety that you will also find in many Indian restaurants.
In our home, we have a ritual once in a month to make assorted pakora with different vegetables and paneer.
Mostly potato, cauliflower, onion, spinach and paneer pakoda are on this list. We usually make this for dinner and serve with roti and coriander chutney.
For Truly Crispy Pakora
Generally when I make any pakora I fry them once. But at my in-law’s place, they use a unique frying technique. They fry them twice.
The pakora are half-fried or until pale golden and placed on kitchen paper towels. When the half-fried pakoras become warm or cool, they are pressed lightly between the palms or pressed with a bowl. They are fried again for the second time until crisp & golden.
I usually don’t implement this method because it is time consuming. But you can give it a try as double frying makes the pakoda very crispy.
Which oil to use for frying pakora?
At home, we usually fry any pakora in mustard oil. Frying in mustard oil gives a very good taste and flavor to these fritters. Mustard oil has a high smoking point which makes it good for deep frying.
If you do not prefer the flavor of mustard oil, then include any oil with a high smoking point. Peanut, sunflower, safflower and avocado oil are some good options.
How to make Paneer Pakora
1. Measure and set aside all your ingredients for making paneer pakora.
2. Slice 125 to 150 grams of paneer (Indian cottage cheese) into cubes or square. For best results use homemade paneer.
3. In a mixing bowl or vessel, take 1 cup besan (gram flour).
4. Now add the following spices:
- 1 pinch turmeric powder
- 1 to 2 pinches of red chili powder or cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain)
- 1 to 2 pinches of garam masala powder
- 1 pinch asafetida (hing)
- salt as required
5. Mix with a wired whisk or spoon.
6. Pour ⅔ to ¾ cup water in parts.
TIP: Depending on the quality of besan, the water proportion will vary. You need to get a thick flowing batter. So keeping this consistency in mind, add water bit by bit and mix until you get a perfectly thick flowing batter.
7. Use a wired whisk to mix the batter. Make a thick flowing smooth batter without any lumps.
8. Dip the paneer cubes into the batter. Coat them well.
Frying Paneer Pakora
9. Heat mustard oil for deep frying in a kadai or pan.
TIP: Don’t worry if you do not have mustard oil. Simply fry pakoda in sunflower oil or peanut oil or a neutral oil with a high smoke point.
10. When the oil becomes medium hot – gently and carefully add the batter coated paneer cubes in it. Keep the heat to medium or medium-high.
TIP: To check if the oil is medium-hot, add a few drops of batter to the hot oil. If it comes up on the surface quickly and gradually, the oil is ready for frying pakora.
11. When one side is light golden, gently turn over paneer pakoda with a slotted spoon and continue to fry the second side.
12. Flip a couple of times for even frying. When paneer pakora looks crisp and golden remove it with a slotted spoon draining the excess oil.
13. Place the fried paneer pakora on paper towels for the extra oil to be soaked.
14. Serve paneer pakoda hot. They taste best when eaten hot.
- With chutneys and condiments: Serve paneer pakora sprinkled with some chaat masala. Do not skip on chaat masala. It brings a lot of flavor and taste. If you do not have chaat masala, then sprinkle with a mix of roasted cumin powder, black salt and dry mango powder (amchur) powder. Pair with a dipping sauce like tomato ketchup or mint chutney or coriander chutney.
- With Indian flat bread – roti: If you are really fond of pakora then make some more varieties of pakoras with paneer pakora. Then have them with roti or chapati as we have. They also taste good with bread.
- With evening Indian chai: Paneer pakora can be had as a snack with a cup of masala chai or coffee.
Paneer Pakora Variations
- Stuffed paneer pakora: While, I have shared the simple classic paneer pakoda recipe, there is a stuffed version, where the paneer slices are sandwiched between coriander chutney or red chilli garlic chutney, batter coated and deep fried. Obviously with the zesty chutney on the paneer, this variation tastes better than the plain version.
- Spicy stuffed version: A simple variation for a spicy stuffing is to place some finely chopped green chillies, ginger and coriander leaves sprinkled with a bit of salt in an almost sliced paneer. Almost sliced means that the paneer is not cut completely. Then batter coat and fry.
- Batter consistency: Make the batter to a thick and flowing consistency. Do not make it thin or runny. A thin batter will absorb more oil making the paneer pakora loaded and soggy with oil.
- Paneer: The best choice to make paneer pakora is obviously Homemade Paneer. If you use frozen paneer, then follow the directions on the pack before proceeding with the paneer pakoda recipe.
- Slicing paneer: You can make decorative shapes from a block of paneer if you plan to make a large batch for a party. The shapes can be round, square, triangle or rectangle. I usually prefer to slice paneer in a square or rectangular shape.
- Spices and seasonings: The spicing in my paneer pakoda recipe are minimal making it mildly spiced. So there is a balance in the taste and the pakora is not overly spiced or spicy. If you prefer, adjust the ground spices according to your taste preferences. In fact a pakoda is never made spicy. The coriander chutney that is served with it can be spicy.
- Oil: As I have mentioned above use any oil that has a high smoke point for deep frying.
- Baking & air frying: I have had not great results when baking or air-frying paneer pakora, but you can try to bake or air-fry these. Bake or air fry at a moderately hot temperature of 180 degrees celsius (356 degrees Fahrenheit). Preheat oven or air-fryer for 10 minutes.
- Leavening ingredient: I have not included baking soda or baking powder in the recipe. Feel free to add these for a fluffy and crispy paneer pakora. About 1 pinch of baking soda or ¼ teaspoon of baking powder will give you the best results.
How hot you need oil to fry paneer pakora?
The oil has to be at medium or medium-high heat. The right temperature for frying is between 180 to 190 degrees Celsius.
To check the hotness, if you do not have a frying thermometer – add a few drops of batter to the hot oil. It should sizzle and come up quickly and gradually. You can begin frying here.
If the batter drop stay at the bottom of the pan, the oil is cold. If it comes up very quickly and gets too much browned or burnt, the oil is very hot.
Why are my pakoras oily?
Firstly do not make the batter thin or runny. More water in the batter will result in the pakora absorbing more oil while frying.
Frying at a low heat or in a warm oil will make them absorb much oil resulting in an oily pakora.
Are pakoras healthy?
Pakora are deep fried food. So obviously enjoyed occasionally and not everyday.
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- 125 to 150 grams Paneer (Indian cottage cheese)
- 1 cup besan (gram flour) – 100 grams
- 1 pinch turmeric powder
- 1 to 2 pinches red chili powder
- 1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
- 1 to 2 pinches Garam Masala
- ½ teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain)
- ⅔ to ¾ cup water or as required
- salt as required
- mustard oil for deep frying, as required
- ½ to 1 teaspoon chaat masala for sprinkling
- Slice paneer into cubes or squares
- Add gram flour into a mixing bowl or vessel.
- Next add turmeric powder, red chili powder, garam masala powder, asafoetida, carom seeds and salt. Mix well.
- Pour ⅔ to ¾ cup water in parts and mix well.
- Use a wired whisk to mix the batter. Make a thick flowing smooth batter without any lumps.
- Depending on the quality of besan, the water proportion will vary. You need to get a thick flowing batter. Thus add water bit by bit and mix until you get a perfectly thick flowing batter.
- Heat mustard oil or your preferred oil for deep frying in a kadai or pan. Keep the heat to medium or medium-high heat.
- To check if the oil is medium-hot, add a few drops of batter to it. If the batter droplets comes up on the surface quickly and gradually, the oil is ready for frying pakora.
- When the oil becomes medium-hot, add the batter coated paneer cubes carefully in the medium-hot oil.
- When one side is lightly golden, gently turn over the pakora with a slotted spoon. Continue to fry the paneer pakora until golden and crisp.
- Remove the paneer pakora with a slotted spoon. Place them on paper towels to remove excess oil.
- Serve hot paneer pakora sprinkled with some chaat masala paired with coriander chutney or tomato ketchup.
- Batter consistency: Make a thick and flowing batter. Do not make the batter thin or runny. Batter with a thin consistency will absorb more oil making the paneer pakora soggy.
- Soggy oily pakora: Frying at a low heat or in a warm oil will make the pakora absorb more oil resulting in an oily pakora.
- Burnt pakora: Frying in a very hot oil, will make the pakora quickly browned or burnt from outside leaving the inside batter undercooked and raw.
- Paneer: Homemade paneer is the best choice to make paneer pakora. If using frozen paneer follow the directions on the pack.
- Slicing paneer: You can make decorative shapes like round, square, triangle or rectangle from a block of paneer if you plan to make a large batch for a party.
- Spices and seasonings: The spicing in my paneer pakoda recipe is minimal. So there is a balance in the taste and the pakora is not overly spiced or spicy. If you prefer, adjust the ground spices according to your taste preferences.
- Oil: As I have mentioned above in the post use any oil that has a high smoke point for deep frying.
- Baking & air frying: I did not have great results when baking or air-frying paneer pakora. But you can bake or air fry them at a moderately hot temperature of 180 degrees celsius (356 degrees Fahrenheit). Preheat oven or air-fryer for 10 minutes.
- Leavening ingredient: I have not included baking soda or baking powder. Feel free to add these for a fluffy and crispy paneer pakora. About 1 pinch of baking soda and ¼ teaspoon of baking powder will give you the best results.
Nutrition Info (Approximate values)
This paneer pakora recipe from the archives (October 2013) has been republished and updated on 3 January 2021.