Paneer is Indian cheese that is widely available in supermarket cheese sections. Besan or chickpea flour is also now available in the larger supermarkets. Both can, of course, be bought from Indian grocers – and, in fact, you might also find chickpea flour in Italian and French delis. This hot spicy snack is ideal served with chilled beer on a cold evening. Serves 4.

200g/ 8 oz block of paneer, cut into 8 large cubes
½ teaspoon red chilli powder
½ teaspoon salt

For the spice paste:
½-inch piece ginger, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled
4 black peppercorns
2 cloves
Seeds of 2 green cardamoms
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, lightly roasted in a pan
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, lightly roasted in a pan
½-inch piece cinnamon
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon white poppy seeds
2 tablespoons water

For the flour coating:
4 tablespoons besan (chickpea flour)
2 tablespoons plain yoghurt
1 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
½ teaspoon black onion seeds

Groundnut or corn oil for deep-frying

1. Sprinkle the paneer with salt and chilli powder, mix gently so that the paneer doesn’t crumble and set aside.
2. Grind all the spices into a paste in a mixer or coffee grinder.
3. Marinate the paneer pieces in the spice paste, cover and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
4. Heat the oil in a frying pan until hot but not smoking.
5. Mix together the ingredients for the flour coating. Sprinkle on the marinated paneer, and rub the flour mixture in gently, making sure that the paneer pieces are evenly coated.
6. Deep fry 2 paneer cubes at a time until golden brown, and drain on kitchen paper.
7. Serve with Indian coriander and mint dip, some plain yoghurt or tomato ketchup, accompanied by onion rings, lemon wedges and green salad.

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