Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

Nashville Hot Paneer Pita

Recipe courtesy of Matt Burton
Sponsor: California Milk Advisory Board

Servings: 24



  • 2 c pickle juice
  • 1 c juice from pickled peppers
  • 3/4 c pickle slices
  • 3/4 c pickled peppers


  • 7 lb low-sodium Real California Paneer cheese (in large block form), cut in 4 x 4–in blocks
  • Salt and pepper, as needed
  • 1 qt Real California buttermilk
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 Tbsp hot sauce
  • 3 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cayenne
  • 2 qt vegetable oil, for frying

Hot & Spicy Oil

  • 1 c cayenne
  • 4 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp ghost pepper flakes or powder
  • 3 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 3 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper, as needed

Per serving

  • 24 pita bread pockets
  • Creamy coleslaw, as needed
  • Pickle slices, as needed


For the Brine

  1. In a large bowl, combine the pickle juices, pickles, peppers and salt.

For the Cheese

  1. Using a fork, dock the cheese so the brine can get in, but do not break the blocks up.
  2. Add the cheese to the bowl of brine. Add enough water to cover the cheese. Cover and refrigerate to brine for at least 4 hours or up to 24.
  3. When you’re ready to cook, remove the cheese and pat it dry. Cut into 2 x 1–inch pieces. Season them with salt and pepper.
  4. In one large container, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and hot sauce.
  5. In another container, stir together the flour, paprika and cayenne.
  6. Heat the oil in a deep fryer or pot to 350°F.
  7. Dredge the cheese pieces in the seasoned flour, then into the buttermilk mixture, then into the flour one more time.
  8. Fry the cheese 3 to 5 minutes, or until it turns golden brown. Remove and drain on a paper towel–lined tray or on a wire rack.

For the Hot & Spicy Oil

  1. Add the cayenne, sugar, pepper flakes, paprika, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper to a heatproof bowl.
  2. Carefully scoop out ¾ c of the hot frying oil. Whisk it into the seasonings until well combined.

For Serving

  1. Brush the Hot & Spicy Oil over 3 ½ to 4 oz crispy cheese and place in a pita pocket. Cut in half.
  2. Serve topped with pickle slices and creamy slaw.

Chef Notes

Paneer cheese does not melt easily so it holds up well in this application. The texture is much like white meat chicken when fried, so this dish is a great vegetarian alternative. Although paneer is low sodium, it still has a lot of salt, so be careful adding more. Try drizzling some of the hot oil over the slaw right before serving to help meld the flavors.

Project Management: Summit F&B
Photography: Carlos Garcia // Food Styling: Peg Blackley

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