Paneer Pakora & Boozy Chai

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Last week I collaborated with Adrian & Jeremy of The Food Gays and made some festive, Diwali recipes.

The whole experience was such a blast! It was so exciting to make recipes and share the stories behind tradition and the culture in my own house with them. We talked a lot about how Diwali is celebrated in India and which recipes would be a good fit for Indians and Indian food enthusiasts all around the world. It was a challenge as there is a plethora of traditional and non traditional recipes out there – it was a difficult task to pick just a few recipes out of the whole lot that would help us capture the spirit of Diwali. Traditional Diwali menu is of course way too elaborate to cover in a couple of blog posts, so here we have picked some recipes (a drink, an appetizer, main course and a dessert) that are easy to make and are a sort of a small introduction to home cooked Indian comfort food.

Read The Food Gays version of the story here

In this post I am sharing the appetizer we made accompanied by a spiked chai drink. This combination is perfect for entertaining. The paneer pakora is crispy on the outside and soft in the center and has a punch from the cilantro chutney which is sandwiched between the two pieces of paneer. This recipe is also a good option for any family members or friends that are gluten free. Serve these pakoras with a hot boozy chai. Chai of course is a popular beverage from India but we took it to the next level by mixing it up with some Baileys. The combination of Black tea + Baileys with pronounced spice flavors is just amazing. This drink might just convert your non tea loving friends into tea drinkers!

Note: All photographs in this post have been taken by The Food Gays 

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Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Boozy Chai

Serving 2 large Cups


2 cups water

2 to 3 green cardamom pods

4 to 5 black peppercorn

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tbsp black tea leaves

2 oz Baileys

  1. In a medium size pot add water and bring it to a boil on medium low heat.
  2. In the meantime add all spices in a mortar and pestle and pound to form a coarse mix.
  3. Once the water stars to simmer, turn the heat a little lower and add all the spices. Cover and let simmer for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add tea leaves and cover it again. Let it simmer for 3 to 4 minutes and turn the heat off. Let the mixture sit without the heat on for extra 2 minutes.
  5. Strain into a kettle or a large measuring cup with a spout.
  6. Add baileys and stir. Pour into tea cups and serve.
  7. This drink can be reheated if you prefer to serve it hot.

Paneer Pakora

Serving for 3 to 4 people


400 grams paneer

1 1/2 cups chickpeas flour

1 cup + 2 tbsp water, room temperature

1/4 cup mint chutney (recipe follows)

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp amchur

2 tsp chaat masala


oil for deep frying

  1. If using store bought paneer, unwrap and soak in cold tap water for an hour before using. This will improve the texture of paneer.
  2. Once you are ready to make pakoras, remove the paneer from water and pat dry with paper towel.
  3. Cut the paneer into 1/4 inch thick rectangles. Cut these rectangles diagonally to get two same size triangles. Repeat with the rest of the paneer.
  4. Take two triangles and add a few drops of mint chutney on one of the pieces. Smear evenly using the back of a spoon. Top with the second triangle to create a paneer sandwich. Repeat with rest of the triangles, keep aside.
  5. Heat oil for deep frying in a wok or a large pot.
  6. In a large mixing bowl add chickpeas flour and mix in all the spices and salt.
  7. Add water in a slow stream while whisking the flour mix continuously. You want to form a lump free, smooth batter. It should be thick enough to coat the pieces of paneer.
  8. Once the oil is hot enough for deep frying, drop a few sandwiched paneer triangles into the batter – move and flip them in the batter to coat well on all sides. Drop 3 to 4 pieces of battered paneer sandwiches into hot oil and fry them (flipping a couple of times for even color) till they turn golden. Remove from oil using a slotted spoon and place them on a tray lined with paper towel. Repeat with all the pieces.
  9. Serve hot with extra cilantro & mint chutney.


Mint Chutney

Serving 1/2 cup


1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1/2 cup mint leaves

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 serano pepper, seeds removed

2 tbsp ice cold water

Add all ingredients to a food processor. Blitz until smooth. Keep covered with plastic
wrap and chilled in refrigerator until needed.