Paneer Butter Masala or Paneer Makhani happens to be my favorite vegetarian curry. Every time I go to an Indian restaurant, this is one dish which I always try from the vegetarian section. I always wanted to try Panneer Butter Masala at home. I mean if you can make Butter Chicken at home, then it shouldn’t be all that difficult. The last time I saw paneer at an Indian grocery store, I couldn’t resist myself. I went ahead and bought it & made this awesome curry.
I need to start making Paneer at home. It would taste so much better than the store bought ones. Paneer Makhani is one dish which you can serve for any Indian party/dinner. It is a definite crowd-pleaser. The gravy has a rich taste from butter, cream, tomatoes, garam masala and cashews. Serve it with Indian Breads like Naan, Tandoori Roti, Kulcha or even Kerala Parotta. It also goes well with mildly spiced rice like Pulav.
- Paneer – 1 lb (1/2 kg approx)
- Ripe Tomatoes (for making puree) – 3 medium (Alternatively, you can use 1/2 to 3/4 cup of Canned Tomato Puree)
- Sliced Onions – 1 big
- Cashews (for grinding) – 8 to 10 pieces
- Fennel Seeds (PerumJeerakam) – 1/4 tsp
- Cloves (Grambu) – 2
- Green Cardamom (Elakka) – 1
- Star Anise (Thakkolam) -1
- Cinnamon (Patta) – 1/2″ long stick
- Bay Leaves (Karuvayela) – 1
- Dried Fenugreek (Kasoori Methi) Leaves – 1 tbsp
- Ginger Garlic Paste – 1 tbsp
- Kashmiri Chilly/Paprika Powder (Piriyan Mulaku Podi) – 1 tbsp (Alter according to your Spice Tolerance)
- Butter – 3 tbsp
- Oil – 2 tbsp
- Sugar – 2 to 3 tsp (Alter according to desired sweetness)
- Heavy Whipping Cream – 1/2 Cup (Alternatively, use 1/2 to 3/4 cup of milk)
- Water – as needed
- Salt – to taste
Ingredients for Marinade
- Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp
- Kashmiri Chilli/Paprika Powder – 1 tbsp
- Red Chilli Powder – 1/2 tsp (Alter according to your Spice Tolerance)
- Tandoori Chicken Masala Powder – 1 tbsp
- Chaat Masala – 1/2 tsp
- Coriander Powder – 1 tsp
- Yogurt – 1/4 cup
- Homemade Garam Masala Powder – 1/4 tsp (optional)
- Salt – to taste
- Wash the paneer and slice it into small cubes of approximately 1″ X 3/4″ X 1/2″ size.
- Make a marinade using the above ingredients and apply it on the paneer. Refrigerate the paneer for atleast 2 hours or leave it overnight.
- Soak the cashews in 1/4 cup of warm water.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a non stick pan and fry the paneer for around 5 minutes until it is lightly browned.
- Meanwhile make tomato puree using 3 big tomatoes.
- Melt 2 tbsp butter in a big non stick pan or kadai. Splutter fennel seeds. Saute cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, cloves and Bay Leaves for a minute.
- Add onions and saute until they begin to lightly brown. Allow it to cool and blend it to a paste. If using cashews, grind it along with the onions.
- Heat another tablespoon of butter in the same pan. Add 1 tbsp kashmiri chilly powder, 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste and saute for a minute.
- Add the Onion–Cashew paste to the pan followed by the homemade or canned tomato puree along with salt to taste.
- The gravy will be very thick. Add atleast 1 cup of water to dilute the gravy. Bring the gravy to a slow boil. Be careful as the gravy will start spluttering.
- Add the fried paneer pieces to the gravy followed by 2-3 tsp sugar and mix gently.
- Sprinkle the dried fenugreek leaves and simmer for 8-10 minutes on medium-low heat.
- Reduce heat, add fresh whipping cream. Remove from stove top and keep covered until ready to serve.
- Serve with Naan, Roti, Kulcha, Fried Rice, Pulav or Plain Basmathi Rice.
- Kashmiri Chilly Powder or Paprika Powder gives the curry a nice red color without making it too spicy.
- If you do not have whipping cream, heat 1/2 to 3/4 cup of milk and add it to the curry. I have tried milk instead of whipping cream and the curry tastes the same.
- The gravy will thicken because of the cashews. So you can dilute the gravy with water as required.
- For making tomato puree, make a slit on the bottom of each tomato & boil the tomatoes for a few minutes. Remove skin and seeds if possible and blend it with 1/2 cup of water.