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Cheese and chilli melt

Updated: Mar 5, 2023

I grew up in Mumbai having this street snack, one of my favourites, but it was nowhere as refined as this recipe. It was cheap white bread, with a “special" masala blend, an unknown variety of cheese and lots and lots of green chillies made in a small panini press that was grilled over a charcoal flame. Fiery, gooey and delicious, it was my favourite sandwich. I was reintroduced to this delight at a cousin‘s house a few years ago when we visited and it brought back distinct memories. I had to look through my recipe collection and found this version that I love. This version takes a touch of work, but the recipe is amazing. The spiced peppers add a very nice nuance to the dish but add enough chillies to make it spicier than you usually are used to. I made these in ready pizza crusts, but feel free to use any base of your choosing including, but not limited to, naan, white or whole wheat bread, or even crackers. I have served these as small bites during cocktails, as an appetizer or occasionally I have it for lunch or dinner. This is the one dish that always seems to disappear, so plan for a few more than you would normally. This is a wonderful cookbook that I categorize in the fabulous London Indian restaurants I want to eat at. A cookbook filled with some very traditional recipes and some extraordinary contemporary recipes. Each of these is delicious, definitely a cookbook you will see me cook from again.

For more delicious recipes from this cookbook click here.


2 tablespoons ghee, butter or oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 large onion, minced

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 tablespoon dried chilli flakes

1 red pepper, finely diced

1/2 green pepper, finely diced

2-4 green chillies. Finely minced, or to taste

1 cup paneer cheese, grated

2 tablespoons cilantro, minced, + more for garnish

Juice of 1 lemon or 1/2 lime

Salt to taste

Grated cheddar cheese

Naan bread, ready pizza crust, the bread of choice toasted, or crackers of choice

Heat the oil in a wide pan and add the cumin seeds. They will begin to crackle in about 10 seconds, add the garlic and sauté till browned. Add the onion and continue to sauté till the onions begin to turn golden. You do not want them to brown completely.

Add the turmeric and chilli flakes, mix well and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the peppers, minced chillies and salt and cook on a medium flame till the peppers are soft about 10 minutes.

Add the grated paneer, cilantro and lemon juice and mix in well. Cook the paneer for 5 minutes till heated through and soft. Taste and adjust salt (note the cheddar is usually very salty so keep that in mind), spice and chilli. You can set the paneer spice mix aside till needed, in ihe fridge if kept overnight.

Heat an oven to 375°F.

If using bread, toast them first. If using pizza bases, bake them first, so they crisp on the top.

Heat the paneer spice mix, if cold. Add a thin layer on the base and sprinkle liberally with grated cheddar cheese. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes till the cheese on top has melted and is beginning to brown.

Top with the minced cilantro and serve immediately.

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