Paneer Butter Masala

Paneer in a buttery curry sauce

Paneer Butter Masala is the vegetarian counterpart of the famous Butter Chicken. A Punjabi ‘delicacy’ that is a favorite across the entire country and probably around the world. It is synonymous to the word curry and is a good dish for anyone to start their exploration of the North Indian Cuisine.

This recipe works for our household because we make it once in 2 weeks, it is one of the ultimate favorite for the kids. I serve it with fresh and hot homemade rotis, but one can also eat it with store bought naan or make your own skillet naans. Naans are very forgiving and the best flatbread recipe to try as a beginner IMHO.

Ghee ~ In this recipe, I pretty much do not use butter as is. I add half ghee and half oil or ghee entirely on the days when it is part of a celebratory meal. Using ghee enhances the flavor and we need not add a lot of it too. A tablespoon will pack so much flavor!

Onions ~ The variety of onion we use definitely contributes to the flavor profile of this dish. Since this is a very mellow curry, my choice is the Vidalia sweet onion. These onions bring a small touch of sweetness and creaminess to this dish that could use it. Very subtle in flavor, the sweet onions help elevate the tomato flavor as well.

Tomato ~ Using a good variety of tomatoes is essential if one is using fresh tomatoes. I like the Tomatoes on the vine for this recipe. Not too tangy, lots of pulp and adds to the volume. Another favorite are the beefsteak tomatoes, but remember that the ratio of tomatoes to onions drives the flavor as well. A lot of tomatoes can make the curry tangy. This curry is slightly tangy, very creamy, not at all spicy and a touch sweet. You can also use canned tomato, it may turn the curry tangier, so use less.

Spices ~ I use the basic spice powders needed in a North Indian curry. The reason it is a big hit at home is because it is not overwhelming and overpowering a curry and suits the palates of the children who cannot handle a lot of heat. The picture below is my North Indian spice powders box and it one of the most handy items to have in the kitchen.

In the center is turmeric, to its right Kashmiri red chili powder (less heat), clockwise from it : coriander powder,cumin powder, Kasoori methi, Madras curry powder and garam masala.

Cream ~ When i make this recipe for a weekend lunch or weekday dinner, I do not add cream. I either add cashews while cooking the curry base or almond meal and a splash of milk. Using almond meal saves time and has also become our favorite substitute for cashews and cream. This consistency works well, but if you are looking for that restaurant creaminess use cream.

Paneer ~ I use store bought paneer on most days. Chop the paneer into cubes and immerse it in hot water for 10 minutes to soften it. i do not fry them before adding it to my curries since we like the texture of the unfried ones.

Store bought paneer, cubed and immersed in hot water for 10 minutes, while the curry base is cooking.

Recipe : Paneer Butter Masala

Prep Time : 15 minutesCook time : 25 to 30 minutes
Spice Level : 🌶🌶Ease Level : 😃
Serves 4 to 6Curry/Side

Ingredients :

  • Tomatoes on the vine – 2
  • Sweet onion – 1 large
  • Paneer – 200 grams
  • Ginger garlic paste – 1 teaspoon each
  • Green chili – 1 optional
  • Almond meal/flour – 2 tablespoons
  • Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Kashmiri Chili powder/ Paprika – to taste
  • Coriander powder – 2 teaspoons
  • Cum1n powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Kasoori Methi – 1 teaspoon – crushed
  • Garam masala powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Jaggery/honey – 1 teaspoon
  • Ghee / Neutral flavored oil – at least 1.5 tablespoon
  • Milk – of choice – 1/2 cup or as needed to get the consistency you like

How to :

  1. Peel and slice the onions, roughly chop the tomatoes, deseed if you want to. Set aside.
  2. Heat a wide bottom saucepan or skillet on medium heat, add the ghee/oil to the pan, once it heats up add the green chili and onions.
  3. Let the onions cook for 4 to 5 minutes, then add the ginger garlic paste. Saute for 2 minutes
  4. Now throw in the chopped tomatoes and the turmeric powder, cover and let cook for 5 minutes, stirring once after 3 minutes.
  5. Next, add the almond meal, mix it well and turn off the heat.
  6. Purée this curry base when it is cool enough for you to handle and then add the puree back into the pan.
  7. Add salt to taste, all the remaining spice powders, some sugar or jaggery and let it simmer for 5 minutes at least. Keep it partially covered since it may splatter.
  8. Now add the paneer cubes and let it absorb all the flavors of the curry, say another 2 or 3 minutes, drizzle in extra ghee if you want that rich nutty fragrance.
  9. Finally add 1/2 cup of milk and mix it in well and remove from heat. How much milk you add depends on what consistency you like.
  10. If eating with flatbreads, keep the curry thick, if eating with rice, it can be a little saucy. Njoy!
I served the Paneer Butter Masala with hot fresh rotis drizzled with ghee !

This recipe is my take on the famous dish and this works excellently well if you are new to Indian cuisine! I hope you will enjoy it as much as we do. Thank you for stopping by !

4 thoughts on “Paneer Butter Masala

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