Refrigerate the cheese for about an hour; chilling it will help it keep its shape during cooking. Bear in mind that cooking cheese — whether you’re frying, grilling, or broiling — must be quick. There’s no need to actually cook the cheese; you just want to give it a quick flash of heat to brown the exterior or cook the coating.
Try it with some typical accompaniments, like Smooth Green Chile Sauce, Indian Style (page 666), any chutney (see pages 668 to 670), or Raita (page 674). If you use cornmeal, try serving the cheese with any tomato-based sauce or salsa.
- Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
- Total Time: 15 Minutes
- 2 tablespoons chickpea flour (besan) or cornmeal, or more as needed
- Salt and pepper
- Good-quality vegetable oil for frying
- 1 pound paneer, queso de freír, halloumi, or other appropriate cheese
- (see “Cheeses That Keep Their Shape During Cooking,” page 556) or
- 1 recipe Fresh Cheese, the Easy Way (page 568), cut into bite-sized pieces
- Put the flour and 6 tablespoons water in a medium bowl and whisk until combined. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. The consistency should be like a pancake batter; add flour or water as necessary and adjust the seasoning. Put ½ to 1 inch oil in a large, deep skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium or medium-high heat. Heat until it’s very hot but not smoking.
- Toss the cheese cubes in the chickpea batter until well coated. Using a slotted spoon, carefully put batches of the cheese in the hot oil (first letting any excess batter drain off into the bowl), gently rotating them in the oil for even cooking and browning on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Put on paper towels to drain and immediately sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve hot or at room temperature.
- SPICED BATTER-FRIED CHEESE Add a pinch of cayenne for heat and any other ground spice or spice mixture you like: Add ½ teaspoon or so garam masala, Fragrant Curry Powder (page 649), or chili powder and a pinch cayenne and mix the into the chickpea batter in Step 1.
- BATTER-FRIED CHEESE WITH SPICED YOGURT A lovely dish; excellent served with basmati rice and Cilantro-Mint Chutney (page 668): Cook all the cheese cubes. Cook 1 large onion, sliced, in good-Zquality vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown. Stir in 1 tablespoon minced garlic and 1 tablespoon garam masala or curry powder and cook for another minute, until fragrant. Stir in 2 cups yogurt and the fried cheese cubes, along with some salt and pepper; heat until barely bubbling. Adjust the seasoning and serve.