If you want a salad that’s as far away from boring as you can imagine, you definitely landed on the right recipe! Nutritious, healthy and filling Spiced Paneer Salad is inspired by Indian cuisine and brings all the delicious flavours of the spices as well as textures of all the colourful fresh veggies. Drizzled with a sharp and sweet Mango Chutney Dressing, this salad with paneer cheese is like no other! Enjoy it as a light meal on its own, or serve it as a side at your next BBQ!
- What Is Paneer?
- Ingredients and Substitutes
- What Are Good Substitutes For Paneer?
- What Other Vegetables To Use In Paneer Salad?
- Watch How To Make Paneer Salad
- Tips & Tricks For The Best Paneer Salad
- What To Serve With Paneer Salad?
- Other Delicious Easy Salads
- Recipe Card
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What Is Paneer?
Paneer is a cottage cheese originating from the Indian subcontinent and is often referred to simply as Indian cottage cheese. The cheese is made from buffalo or cow’s milk and is known for its very high melting point and, therefore, perfect for grilling or frying. The texture of it is similar to extra firm tofu and it has a mild flavour, that acts almost as a blank canvas to add flavour to. It is also a good source of vegetarian protein.
The name of this Indian cheese stems from an old Iranian word panir which literally means ‘cheese’. Typically used for deep-fried doughy snacks, curries and side dishes, paneer is more versatile than you may think. You can actually make many desserts with this cheese, like rusgulla, paneer badam kheer or paneer burfi!
Whilst it is not difficult to make fresh paneer at home, we recommend using shop-bought vacuum-packed paneer. It has a firm texture and is better suited for frying or even cooking on an outdoor grill compared to homemade paneer.
Ingredients and Substitutes
For Spiced Paneer
- paneer: you can buy paneer in a block or ready-cubed and vacuum-packed. We tried it with Desi and Pakeeza Paneer (both from Sainsbury’s UK).
- chili powder: substitute chilli powder with cayenne pepper if that’s what you have.
- paprika: can be substituted with smoked paprika or even cumin powder for more authentic Indian flavours. You may also try marinating paneer cubes in medium curry powder or garam masala.
- garlic powder: or minced garlic clove, but note that garlic will burn quicker in the pan in this case.
- lime: juice only.
- spinach: we typically use baby spinach, but this paneer salad will work with lettuce/ a mixture of salad leaves too.
- avocado: ripe and ready.
- cucumber: cut into thin semi-circles.
- cherry tomatoes: or baby plum tomatoes.
For Mango Chutney Dressing
- mango chutney: the best one for this mango chutney dressing would be a smoother kind, without huge chunks of mango in it (but it’s not a deal breaker).
- Dijon mustard: can be substituted with slightly less English mustard.
- olive oil: or cold-pressed rapeseed oil, or avocado oil.
- vinegar: rice, white wine or apple cider vinegar.
What Are Good Substitutes For Paneer?
Whilst Paneer has a few good substitutes, like Cypriot Anari, Caucasian Circassian and Queso Blanco, these are sometimes not easy to find in Western-style supermarkets.
If you cannot get hold of paneer, try it with halloumi instead. The texture is similar (although halloumi can be slightly firmer) and the extra salt in halloumi will add even more flavour to this salad!
If you’re looking to make this salad vegan, try this salad with extra firm tofu!
What Other Vegetables To Use In Paneer Salad?
Many salad veggies will go very well in this salad with paneer. You can substitute or add extra vegetables. Here’s the list of vegetables that we tested and loved in this dish:
- thinly sliced bell pepper.
- thinly sliced red onion (the key is not to add too much, or else it will overpower other flavours).
- yellow cherry tomatoes add colour vibrancy to the plate.
- fresh coriander leaves or mint leaves.
- thinly sliced green onions.
- some cubed mango!
If you are using a paneer block, cut it into bite-size pieces.
Squeeze lime juice over the cubed paneer, add the spices (garlic powder, paprika and chilli powder) and mix well. Leave it for 10 minutes (or up to 6 hours) to marinate, whilst you prepare the salad and dressing.
To make the dressing, mix mango chutney, oil, vinegar and Dijon mustard in a small bowl. Season with salt and black pepper and mix well to combine.
Add the spinach to a large bowl (or divide it between individual bowls), add the cucumber, and halved cherry tomatoes and arrange the avocado slices.
Heat a large pan on medium-high heat with a drop of vegetable oil. Add the spiced paneer and cook it quickly stir-frying it (otherwise the spices will burn) for 2-3 minutes, until browned or slightly charred.
Add the warm paneer on top of your salad. Drizzle the mango chutney dressing all over the paneer salad and enjoy whilst the cheese is still warm!
Watch How To Make Paneer Salad
Tips & Tricks For The Best Paneer Salad
This is one of the easiest salads to make, but there are a few things you can do to ensure the best results
- Make sure not to overcook the paneer (more on this below).
- Use a smoother type of mango chutney for the dressing, so you don’t get overly sweet chunks of mango in some of the mouthfuls.
- If you don’t fancy mango dressing, this salad goes exceptionally well with Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette.
- Adjust the spices to your liking. If you don’t like hot & spicy food, you can skip the chilli altogether and use more sweet paprika, or mild curry powder.
- Squeeze some lime or lemon juice over your avocado slices to make sure they don’t brown (especially if you’re serving this salad as a side dish and it is likely to be out for longer).
- Serve this salad as fresh as you can. Warm paneer is so much nicer than after it cools down.
How To Make Sure Your Paneer Isn’t Dry?
The best way to pan-fry paneer is to cook it quickly on high heat. This way is to cook quickly, the spices slightly char, but the paneer stays soft and succulent. What is more, fried paneer is best served warm, as it will become tough when it cools.
What To Serve With Paneer Salad?
Serve Paneer Salad on its own and make a delicious vegetarian main dish. However, if you feel like you want something extra with it, serve the salad with popadoms or some kind of flatbread that can be used to mop up any leftover dressing at the bottom of your bowl. We highly recommend:
If you are serving this salad with paneer as a side dish, it goes very well with tandoori chicken, grilled meats or even some oily fish, like salmon!
Other Delicious Easy Salads
If you are looking for other nutritious vegetarian salad ideas to serve as a main dish, look no further. Here are some of our favourite easy recipes to try:
- Summer Pesto Pasta Salad
- Chinese-Spiced Beetroot & Sweet Potato Salad
- Goats’ Cheese & Sweet Potato Salad with Cranberries
Spiced Paneer Salad With Mango Chutney Dressing
For Spiced Paneer:
- 200 g paneer cubed
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ lime juice only
- 120 g spinach
- 1 avocado sliced
- 150 g cucumber cut into thin semi-circles
- 120 g cherry tomatoes halved
For Mango Chutney Dressing:
- 1 tbsp mango chutney
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon vinegar rice, white wine or cider vinegar
- Squeeze lime juice ove rthe cubed paneer, add the spices (garlic powder, paprika and chilli powder) and mix well. Leave it for 10 minutes (or up to 6 hours) to marinate, whilst you prepare the salad and dressing.
- To make the dressing, mix mango shutney, oil, vinegar and Dijon mustard to a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and mix well to combine.
- Add the spinach to a large bowl (or divide between individual bowl), add the cucumber, halved cherry tomatoes and arrange the avocado slices.
- Heat a large on-stick frying pan on medium-hugh heat with a drop of oil. Add the spiced paneer and cook it quickly stir-frying it (otherwise the spices will burn) for 2-3 minutes, until browned or slightly charred.
- Add the warm paneer on top of your salad. Drizze the mango chuney dressing all over the paneer salad and enjoy whilst the cheese is still warm!