Paneer Butter Masala is, perhaps, one of the best known dishes from the Indian cuisine. Justly so, too, considering how scrumptious the dish is when made right. Melt-in-the-mouth cottage cheese cubes in a decadent, creamy gravy that is a little sour, a little sweet, a little spicy – what’s to not love? It is a dish we most often order while eating out with the extended family.
That said, it is quite simple to make creamy, delicious, restaurant-style Paneer Butter Masala at home. Today, I share with you my Easy Paneer Butter Masala Recipe, one that I have been using for years now, arrived at after several trials and tribulations. I make the curry without any heavy cream in it, trying to keep it as healthy as I can, and it still turns out absolutely fantastic. If you have the paneer ready, it will not take you more than 20 minutes to put it all together. Serve it with naan, parathas, rotis or any flatbread of your choice – or even some jeera rice – and you will have a winner of a meal on the table!
Paneer Butter Masala is made in different ways by different families, different restaurants. This is the way I make it, and it might not be the most authentic of recipes, but I can assure you that it yields a finger-licking-good outcome! All of us at my place surely do love it.
One of the most important things in the making of perfect Paneer Butter Masala is in cooking the gravy well. I do not blanch the tomatoes or saute the onions beforehand, but smoothly puree them raw along with a few other ingredients, then cook the paste till the raw smell is completely gone. Another thing to remember is to use good-quality paneer that is soft and well-made. It is also important to ensure that you do not go overboard on the spices, and use them sparingly. Also, do not cook the curry too much after adding in the paneer – it needs to simmer for just a minute or so after.
If you are entertaining, the gravy for this Easy Paneer Butter Masala can be made a day in advance, with the paneer and other final touches being added to the dish just before your guests arrive. This is a gluten-free dish that can easily be made vegan too.
Let us now check out my Easy Paneer Butter Masala recipe, shall we?
Ingredients (serves 2-3) :
To grind :
- 4 medium-sized tomatoes
- 1 small onion
- 5-6 cloves of garlic
- A 1-inch piece of ginger
- 4-5 whole almonds
- 4-5 whole cashewnuts
Other ingredients :
- 200 grams paneer
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 green cardamom
- 4 cloves
- A small piece of cinnamon
- 2 pinches of asafoetida
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- Red chilli powder to taste
- 1 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tablespoon chana masala or to taste
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
- 1/2 tablespoon kasoori methi
1. We will first grind the paste for the Paneer Butter Masala and keep it ready. For this, peel the ginger, onion and garlic cloves and chop roughly. Chop the tomatoes roughly. Halve the cashewnuts and almonds. Grind all of these ingredients together to a smooth paste without adding any water. Keep aside.
2. Cut the paneer into cubes. Keep aside.
3. Now, we will begin preparing the Paneer Butter Masala. Heat the butter in a pan, and add in the cardamom, cloves, bay leaf, asafoetida and cinnamon. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
4. Add the paste we ground earlier to the pan. Lower the flame to medium and cook the paste till the raw smell of the ingredients goes away and it thickens. This should take 4-5 minutes.
5. Now, add the milk and the water to the pan, along with salt, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, jaggery powder and chana masala. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for 1-2 minutes.
6. Add the paneer cubes to the pan. Mix well, gently. Cook on medium heat for a minute more. Switch off gas.
7. Garnish with kasoori methi and finely chopped fresh coriander. Serve with rotis, naan or flatbread of your choice.
1. I prefer using the flavourful, tart ‘country’ (nati) tomatoes in the paste, as opposed to the ‘farm’ variety.
2. I use a small-sized red onion in the paste. It adds a bit of sweetness to the curry, and helps even out the tartness of the tomatoes.
3. I use a mix of almonds and cashewnuts to thicken the gravy. You can use only almonds or only cashewnuts to do so, too.
4. Make sure you grind the paste smooth, without any lumps in it. This is imperative for a delicious, great-quality Paneer Butter Masala. You can even pass the paste through a sieve, if you want to – I don’t.
5. Instead of sugar, I have used jaggery powder to sweeten the gravy. It balances out the tartness of the tomatoes, and I would not recommend leaving it out.
6. I have used boiled and cooled full-fat milk in the curry. It adds a whole lot of flavour and richness to the gravy.
7. It is important to cook the paste first, till the raw smell of the ingredients goes away. The milk and spice powders must be added only after this.
8. I like using Ciba Taaza brand of chana masala or rajma masala in this gravy, rather than garam masala. You may use garam masala instead, too. Adjust the quantity as per personal taste preferences.
9. You can gently fry the paneer cubes before adding them to the gravy too. I haven’t, so as to reduce the use of oil. Frying the paneer does take the taste of the curry up by several notches, but it tastes great even without doing so.
10. I have used store-bought ID brand paneer here. You can use home-made paneer instead, too.
11. Do not overcook the curry after adding in the paneer. This tends to make the paneer hard. Just simmer the gravy for about a minute after adding the paneer.
12. Add the coriander and kasoori methi to the curry at the very end, after switching off the gas.
13. Keep the gravy a little runny and not too thick. It thickens further on cooling.
14. Adjust the quantity of water depending on how thick the gravy is. Adjust seasonings accordingly.
15. The gravy can be made beforehand and refrigerated for up to a day. Make sure you add in the paneer just before serving and cook it all together for about a minute, on medium heat.
16. The almonds, cashewnuts and milk are enough to make the gravy rich and flavourful. There is no real need to add any cream.
17. Ideally, good-quality butter must be used to make this curry. However, you can also use a mix of oil and butter or only oil. I have used Amul butter here.
18. You can make the gravy without onion and garlic, if you so prefer. In that case, you can add in a little more milk and a couple more cashewnuts and almonds, or heavy cream to keep the sweetness and thickness intact.
19. This curry can easily be made vegan too – Just skip the butter, paneer and milk completely, in that case. In their place, you may use vegan butter, tofu and vegan milk respectively. If you want to use cream, you can use a vegan version.
Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!