I hardly ever buy paneer, but the last time I did the only package in the store was quite large, so I froze what I didn't use. This was the test, as I had read conflicting opinions online about how well it freezes. It froze and defrosted nicely, and I was able to use the last of it to make these absolutely yummy snacks.
I used the juice from a zested lemon in the dough, and to help the cornstarch coating to stick.
I grated the paneer and mixed it with mashed chick peas and spices, formed the mixture into balls and shallow fried them and then served them with an apricot chutney for dipping.
I wasn't quite sure how my husband would feel about them, but he loved them. He's already asked me to buy more paneer and make them again...
In a bowl, combine:
1 cup grated paneer
1 cup chick peas, mashed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 teaspoons cornstarch
2 pinches of turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
Mix until everything is well combined and you have a moist dough, similar to cookie dough in texture and consistency.
Add more lemon juice if needed.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll each into a ball.
Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to cook them.
When you are ready to fry the chick pea and paneer balls, heat vegetable oil in a wok or pan. You will be shallow frying, so you need about 2" of oil. Heat it to a temperature of at least 375F.
In a bowl, combine:
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon garam masala
Have another small bowl ready with the remaining lemon juice, and a plate to put the coated chick pea balls on.
Roll each paneer ball in the lemon juice, allowing any excess to drip off, and then coat them in the cornstarch and garam masala.
Shake off any excess and place on the plate, ready to fry.
Gently lower the paneer balls into the hot oil, and cook, turning occasionally, until all sides are golden and crunchy and the inside is hot.
This took about 5 - 7 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the paneer balls from the hot oil and place on paper towel to drain.
Serve the hot chick pea and paneer balls with a dipping sauce, such as chutney. Eat them while they are hot...the spices are at their most fragrant, and the paneer and chick peas are soft and moist.
- I mashed the drained and rinsed chick peas with a hand blender, leaving them slightly chunky. You can also use a food processor.
- Leftover mashed potato can be used instead of chick peas.
- Paneer does not melt, but when it is hot it is soft. Grating it allowed it to be evenly distributed throughout.
- If you want to add cayenne pepper of chili flakes for heat, go ahead. Minced fresh ginger can also be added to the dough.
- By coating the paneer balls in cornstarch, they are kept gluten free, but if you wish to use breadcrumbs instead, go ahead.
- If you do not have a thermometer to check the oil temperature, it is ready when a drop of water sizzles when it hits the hot oil....only a drop! If you use any more the oil will bubble up and may boil over!!
- Another cooking option is to quickly brown the paneer balls in a pan, and then place them in a 400F oven to finish crisping and heating through.
- The balls can be made and rolled a day ahead; coat them with the cornstarch just before frying.
- These make a great snack, or appetizer.