Paneer rolls are a favorite Indian street food snack. Soft roti is wrapped around marinated and baked paneer, crunchy cabbage and red onion salad, and spicy and fresh Cilantro Mint Chutney with yogurt. It’s a culinary gem that embraces the essence of Indian flavors.
These vibrant, hand-held delights are not only a treat to the taste buds but also a showcase of the country’s diverse food culture. Whether you’re a die-hard food enthusiast or a casual snacker, paneer rolls are sure to leave you craving more.
What are Paneer Rolls?
Paneer rolls are an Indian street food, similar to Frankies or Kathi Rolls, made by stuffing spiced, pan-fried paneer — a type of cottage cheese indigenous to the Indian subcontinent — into soft roti flatbread. The rolls are typically flavored with traditional Indian seasonings and can be enjoyed with an assortment of condiments, notably the Cilantro Mint Chutney, providing a wholesome gastronomic experience.
Why You’ll Love Paneer Rolls
The allure of paneer rolls lies in their delightful juxtaposition of flavors and textures. The softness of the paneer and roti is offset by the crunch of shredded cabbage, carrot, and red onion. The rich curry-based marinade, coupled with tangy lime juice, spicy chutney, and cooling Greek yogurt, adds an unforgettable depth of flavor.
Ingredients You Need
Like a lot of Indian cooking, the ingredient list looks long, but most of the items are spices and seasonings that will be in your pantry already if you frequently cook Indian food. This Paneer Rolls recipe is flexible and you can definitely make substitutes, too, based on what you do have on hand. Here’s what you need for this recipe:
- Yogurt: Adds creaminess to the chutney mixture and helps bind the spices in the marinade to the paneer. Ideally, use whole-milk yogurt. I like to use Greek yogurt because it is thicker than other types, but you can use any plain yogurt.
- Garlic and ginger: These aromatics lend depth to the dish. Fresh is always best, but you can substitute jarred paste if you want.
- Curry powder, garam masala, and chaat masala: These spice blends provide the quintessential Indian flavor. Look for them in Indian grocery stores or in the international aisle of large supermarkets. Each spice blend can be substituted for the other in a pinch.
- Kashmiri chili powder: Provides vibrant color and mild heat. Found in Indian supermarkets, or substitute it with paprika for color and cayenne for heat.
- Kosher salt: Balances flavors. Any type of salt will work, but kosher salt has a purer flavor and is less likely to contain additives.
- Lime juice: Adds tang and helps marinate the paneer. Fresh limes are usually available, but bottled lime juice can be used as a substitute.
- Paneer: The star of the dish. Paneer is Indian cottage cheese available at Indian stores. If you can’t find paneer, firm tofu is a reasonable substitute. You can even make your own paneer.
- Shredded cabbage, red onion, and carrots: They add crunch and freshness. Available in every supermarket.
- Roti: It’s the wrap for your paneer filling. Found in Indian grocery stores or in the international aisle. You can substitute other flatbreads like chapati, paratha, or even flour tortillas. Or you can make your own roti.
- Cilantro Mint Chutney: A refreshing dip that complements the spicy paneer rolls. You can buy it in Indian grocery stores, or make your own cilantro mint chutney.
How to Make Paneer Rolls
Making paneer rolls involves creating a flavorful paneer filling, preparing the accompanying vegetables, and wrapping the mix in a soft roti.
- Start by marinating the paneer in a mixture of yogurt, garlic, ginger, curry powder, garam masala, chaat masala, Kashmiri chili powder, kosher salt, and lime juice. Allow it to sit for a while so that the paneer absorbs these flavors.
- While the paneer is marinating, you can prepare the crunchy vegetable filling. Shred the cabbage, red onion, and carrots. You want them to be thin enough to provide a delightful crunch but not too thin that they lose their texture. Add the spices and lemon juice and toss to mix.
- Preheat the oven.
- Stir together yogurt and chutney.
- Bake the paneer in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet until golden-brown.
- Next, lightly toast the roti on a pan or griddle. Keep the heat moderate to prevent the roti from becoming too crispy; you need it pliable enough to roll.
- Once your components are ready, it’s time to assemble the rolls. Lay out the roti, spread a dollop of the chutney on it, then pile on some of the salad, and finally, layer the fried paneer on top. Roll the roti tightly around the filling. You can secure it with a toothpick if necessary.
Tips for Success
Here are some tips and suggestions to keep in mind when making paneer rolls:
- If you can’t find paneer in your local grocery store, you can substitute tofu (which can make this recipe vegan, too, as long as you use a plant-based yogurt) or halloumi cheese.
- If you don’t have roti on hand, you can use tortillas, parathas, or any other flatbread instead.
- You can adjust the spice level of the filling by adding more or less of the kashmiri chili powder or omitting it altogether.
- If you’re short on time, you can skip the marinating step for the paneer, but it won’t be as flavorful.
- You can customize the filling by adding other vegetables or herbs that you like, such as bell peppers or cilantro.
What to Serve with Paneer Rolls
The beautiful thing about paneer rolls is their versatility. They make for a delightful snack, an appetizer, or even a light lunch.
If you’re looking to build a meal around these rolls, consider serving them with a side of samosas, chicken pakoras, paneer pakoras, or chicken 65. The combination of the crunchy appetizers with the soft, flavorful rolls creates a delightful contrast.
The magic of paneer rolls, like any traditional recipe, lies in its ability to be reinvented time and time again, always preserving its soul while embracing new and exciting interpretations
For the paneer
- ¼ cup full-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1- inch piece fresh ginger minced
- 1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon chaat masala powder
- ½ teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- 6 ounces paneer cut into ½-inch by 1 ½-inch sticks
For the salad
- 2 carrots shredded
- 1 cup finely shredded cabbage
- ¼ red onion very thinly sliced
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 teaspoon chaat masala
- ¼ teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- For assembly
- 6 roti
- ½ cup Cilantro-Mint Chutney
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt
- In a bowl, mix together the marinade ingredients for the cheese—the yogurt, ginger, garlic, curry powder, garam masala, chaat masala, Kashmiri chili powder, salt, and lime juice. Add the cheese and toss to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes or so.
- Preheat the oven to 425 F.
- While the cheese is marinating and the oven is preheating, make the salad. Toss the cabbage, carrots, and onion together with the lemon juice, chaat masala, chili powder, and salt.
- Stir together the chutney and ¼ cup yogurt
- Arrange the cheese on a foil-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Leave room around the pieces so that they’ll brown nicely. Cook in the oven for about 10 minutes, until browned.
- Heat the roti in a skillet, cooking each for a minute or two on each side in a skillet over medium-high heat.
- Spread chutney-yogurt mixture onto the roti. To with some of the salad and then a layer of cheese. Roll up, secure with a toothpick if needed, and serve.
If you don’t have roti, you can substitute chapati, paratha, or even flour tortillas.