Paneer Butter Masala stands as an esteemed paneer gravy delicacy in India, cherished for its delectable taste. This dish features tender Indian cottage cheese cubes drenched in a luscious, mildly seasoned tomato-based sauce, creating a truly delightful culinary experience. With the aid of my detailed step-by-step guide, mastering the art of preparing this restaurant-style Paneer Butter Masala in the comfort of your home becomes effortlessly achievable!
About Paneer Butter Masala Recipe
The Paneer Butter Masala recipe presents a luxurious and creamy delicacy featuring paneer (Indian cottage cheese) immersed in a delightful tomato, butter, and cashew sauce known as “makhani gravy.” The combination of tangy tomatoes and luscious cream results in a velvety, irresistibly delectable sauce.
Also known as “Butter Paneer,” this delectable and widely-loved vegetarian dish is a delightful adaptation of the famous Butter Chicken recipe, also known as Chicken Makhani, which I had the pleasure of learning during my culinary school days. It’s hard to believe, but back then, I used to cook with meat too – a thought that now seems like a distant memory!
Thanks to my easy, quick, and mouthwatering recipe, you can savor the flavors of Restaurant-style Paneer Butter Masala right in the comfort of your home. Surprisingly, this dish is incredibly simple to prepare, making it a perfect choice even for those hectic weeknights. With just 10 minutes of prep work and 30 minutes on the stove, you’ll have a satisfying dinner ready to enjoy.
Ingredients For Butter Paneer Masala
1. Ripe, red & juicy tomatoes:
Tomatoes play a crucial role in this recipe as they serve as the foundation for the flavorful makhani sauce. For the best results, it’s essential to select ripe, red, and juicy tomatoes with a natural sweetness.
In case ripe tomatoes are unavailable due to seasonal constraints in your area, you can opt for canned whole tomatoes and blend them instead. These canned tomatoes are picked when they are at their peak ripeness, and interestingly, they tend to be much more flavorsome compared to tomato purée.
2. Raw Cashews:
Cashews are another important ingredient that plays a crucial role in gravy preparation, bringing a delightful creaminess and shine to the dish. Moreover, their natural sweetness effectively balances out the tangy flavor of the tomatoes.
Apart from the cashew paste, this Butter Paneer recipe also calls for the addition of cream. The cream serves two purposes – it helps to thicken the sauce, giving it a luscious texture, and adds a touch of richness to the overall flavor.
If you follow a vegan diet, you have the option to substitute coconut cream instead. However, it’s essential to be aware that this substitution may slightly affect the overall taste of the dish. Additionally, you can choose to exclude the cream to create a less rich gravy if you prefer.
The paneer butter masala recipe incorporates just the perfect amount of butter, rendering the curry luxurious and delightfully buttery.
Not an excessive quantity of butter is used in this preparation, so there’s no need to feel overly guilty about it. However, it’s important to exercise caution and avoid going overboard with the butter, as it might adversely affect the outcome. Sticking to the provided recipe will ensure the best results.
The success of your dish hinges on the quality of your paneer. You desire luscious and tender paneer cubes, delicately enveloped in a velvety, buttery tomato sauce.
To ensure this delectable outcome, you have two options: either choose Homemade Paneer, which I firmly believe is always the superior choice or opt for good quality store-bought paneer. In the latter case, make certain to adhere to the instructions provided on the package before incorporating it into your dish.
6. Spices & Herbs:
This recipe’s convenience for weeknights stems from its concise list of herbs and spices, which won’t overwhelm you. To achieve that delightful orange hue, make sure to incorporate Kashmiri red chili powder.
In case it’s unavailable, feel free to substitute it with either cayenne pepper or sweet paprika. Additionally, you’ll require garam masala powder for this dish. Adding Kasuri methi, dried fenugreek leaves, will impart a delightful flavor, but don’t worry if you don’t have them on hand; you can simply skip this ingredient. Finally, for a finishing touch, garnish with fresh cilantro (coriander leaves).
How to Make Paneer Butter Masala?
Before you embark on preparing this delectable recipe, you’ll need to do some simple prep work. First, soak your cashews, then proceed to make tomato puree and blend the soaked cashews.
Begin by soaking 18 to 20 cashews in ⅓ cup of hot water for approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
As the cashews soak, you can begin preparing the rest of the ingredients. Start by chopping tomatoes, making the ginger-garlic paste, and slicing the paneer into cubes.
To prepare the ginger garlic paste, take a 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled, and combine it with 3 to 4 small to medium-sized garlic cloves in a mortar and pestle. Crush the ingredients until they form a semi-fine or fine paste. Set the paste aside for later use.
Note: Don’t add any water while crushing ginger & garlic.
After allowing the cashews to soak for 20 to 30 minutes, proceed by draining the water and then adding them to a blender or mixer-grinder. Along with the cashews, include 2 to 3 tablespoons of fresh water, or just enough to achieve a smooth and fine paste when blended.
Blend the cashews until you achieve a smooth paste, ensuring there are no remaining bits or chunks. Take the cashew paste out of the blender and set it aside for later use.
Incorporate 2 cups of diced or roughly chopped tomatoes into the same blender.
Note: There’s no need to blanch the tomatoes or to wash the blender pitcher before blending.
Blend the mixture until it forms a smooth tomato puree, then set it aside.
Note: Don’t add any water while blending the tomatoes.
Make Tomato Gravy
Heat the pan on low to medium-low heat. Use a thick bottomed or heavy pan. Add 2 tablespoons of butter (for a richer version, you can add 3 to 4 tablespoons) to the pan, whether it’s salted or unsalted butter.
Alternatively, you have the option to add 1 tablespoon of oil along with 1-2 tablespoons of butter to the pan. This addition of oil helps prevent the butter from browning too quickly.
Keep the heat low. Add 1 medium-sized tej patta and fry briefly for 2 to 3 seconds until it becomes fragrant.
Now, introduce the crushed ginger-garlic or 1 teaspoon of ready-made ginger-garlic paste.
Continue sautéing until the raw aroma of the ginger-garlic disappears, which usually takes about 10 to 12 seconds.
Carefully pour the prepared tomato purée into the pan, ensuring it’s all in. Now, mix the purée thoroughly with the butter, ensuring they blend nicely together. Turn the heat to low or medium-low, and begin cooking the tomato purée, stirring it from time to time. Soon, you’ll notice the purée mixture starting to simmer.
In case the tomato purée splutters excessively during the cooking process, you can choose to either partially cover the pan with a lid or fully shield it using a splatter guard (channi lid). While the purée simmers, don’t forget to stir it occasionally to ensure it cooks evenly.
Let the purée simmer for about 5 to 6 minutes, allowing all the flavors to meld together beautifully. Now, it’s time to add the Kashmiri red chili powder or deghi mirch – about 1 teaspoon should do the trick.
Alternatively, you have the option to add just ½ teaspoon of Kashmiri red chili powder or ¼ to ½ teaspoon of cayenne, paprika, or any other type of red chili powder according to your taste preferences. The choice is yours, so go ahead and make it as spicy as you like!
Mix the tomato purée well and keep stirring while sautéing. Continue sautéing until the butter begins to separate from the sides of the pan and the whole tomato purée mixture blends into a thick paste.
Note: The entire sautéing process for this dish typically takes around 14 to 17 minutes when cooked on low to medium-low heat. The time required may vary depending on factors such as the thickness of the pan, its size, and the intensity of the flame used.
Add Cashew Paste
Now, it’s time to incorporate the prepared cashew paste into the mixture. Make sure to mix it thoroughly with the cooked tomato puree, and continue stirring and sautéing over low to medium-low heat.
Remember to keep stirring the gravy consistently after adding the cashew paste. Allow it to sauté until the cashew paste is fully cooked, and you notice the oil starting to separate from the masala. The cashews should cook fairly quickly, within about 3 to 4 minutes on low heat. Don’t forget to maintain a continuous stirring motion throughout the process!
Afterward, incorporate 1.5 cups of water.
Assemble Paneer Butter Masala
Carefully combine the water with the tomato-cashew masala, ensuring a thorough mixing. Should any lumps form, simply break them down using a spoon or a wired whisk for smoother consistency.
Allow the curry to simmer and reach a boiling point over low to medium-low heat, remembering to stir occasionally.
After approximately 2 to 3 minutes, introduce the ginger julienne (thin, matchstick-like strips of about 1-inch length) into the curry. Remember to keep a few for garnishing purposes. As the curry cooks, it will naturally thicken.
After simmering for 3 to 4 minutes, incorporate 1 or 2 slit green chiles, and season the mixture with salt to your preference.
If the tomatoes are particularly sour, you can also add ¼ to 1 teaspoon of sugar as needed.
Blend the ingredients thoroughly and let them simmer for a minute. Once the gravy reaches your preferred thickness, gently introduce the paneer cubes (around 200 to 250 grams).
Carefully stir and incorporate the paneer into the gravy. At this stage, you can turn off the heat.
Swiftly sprinkle 1 teaspoon of crushed dry fenugreek leaves (Kasuri methi leaves) and 1 teaspoon of garam masala into the gravy.
Include 2 to 3 tablespoons of either low-fat or light cream, or opt for 1 to 2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream into the mixture. Carefully stir the ingredients together until well combined. If you haven’t done so already, turn off the heat.
Now, it’s time to serve the delightful Paneer Butter Masala while it’s still hot. Enhance its presentation by garnishing it with 1 to 2 tablespoons of chopped coriander leaves (also known as cilantro) and the remaining ginger julienne. To make it even more appealing, consider drizzling a bit of cream or dotting it with butter before serving. Savor the flavors and enjoy this delectable dish!
What to eat with Paneer Butter Masala
Eat with the staple Indian bread roti: Paneer butter masala gravy offers a delightful touch of sweetness and a gentle hint of spice, making it a perfect accompaniment to your roti or chapati.
With other Indian bread: Naan bread, tandoori roti, paratha, roomali roti, or Malabar paratha are all excellent accompaniments for this delightful dish.
With rice: It pairs wonderfully with steamed basmati rice or jeera rice (cumin rice).
Paneer Butter Masala Recipe
For Cashew Paste
- 18 to 20 Cashews – whole
- 1/3 cup Hot water – for soaking cashews
For Tomato Puree
- 2 cups Tomatoes – diced,
For Ginger-Garlic Paste
- 1 inch Ginger – peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 to 4 cloves Garlic cloves – small to medium-sized, peeled
- 2 tbsp Butter
- 1 Tej patta (Indian bay leaf), optional
- ½ to 1 tsp kashmiri red chili powder or paprika
- 1 ½ cup Water or add as required
- 1 inch Ginger – peeled and julienned, reserve a few for garnish
- 1 or 2 Green chili – slit, reserve a few for garnish
- 200 g Paneer (Indian cottage cheese) – cubed or diced
- 1 tsp Dy fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) – optional
- ½ to 1 tsp Garam masala
- 2 to 3 tbsp Light cream
- ¼ to 1 tsp Sugar – optional, add as required depending on the sourness of the tomatoes
- Salt as required
- 1 to 2 tbsp Coriander leaves – chopped, (cilantro) – optiona
- 1 inch Ginger – peeled and julienned
- 1 tbsp Light cream or heavy cream – optional
- 1 to 2 tsp Butter
- Place the cashews in hot water and let them soak for 20 to 30 minutes. While the cashews are soaking, you can start preparing the other ingredients such as chopping tomatoes, making ginger-garlic paste, and slicing paneer.
- After soaking the cashews, proceed to drain and place them in a blender or mixer-grinder.
- Stir well after adding the tomato puree, and allow it to cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- After that, include Kashmiri red chili powder and mix it thoroughly. Keep sautéing until the oil separates from the tomato paste.The tomato paste will significantly thicken, forming a cohesive lump.
- Then incorporate the cashew paste into the mixture and thoroughly stir it. Allow the cashew paste to sauté for a few minutes until the oil starts to separate from the sides of the masala paste.
- The cashew paste will start cooking rapidly, taking approximately 3 to 4 minutes over low heat. Therefore, it is essential to keep stirring continuously.
Making Paneer Butter Masala
- Mix water thoroughly and simmer over low to medium-low heat until well combined.
- The curry will come to a boil.
- After boiling for 2 to 3 minutes, ginger julienne should be added. Keep aside a few pieces for garnishing. As the curry simmers, it will naturally start to thicken.
- Simmer the curry until it starts to thicken, while adding julienned ginger, green chilies, salt, and sugar.
- After 3 to 4 minutes, introduce slit green chillies into the mixture. Additionally, season with salt according to your taste preferences and consider adding ½ to 1 teaspoon of sugar if desired (optional).
- Feel free to adjust the sugar quantity according to your preference, ranging from ¼ tsp to 1 teaspoon or more, depending on how sour your tomatoes are. It's worth noting that the sugar is entirely optional, and you have the choice to omit it altogether. If you decide to incorporate cream into the recipe, you may want to reduce the amount of sugar used.
- Mix very well and simmer for a minute.
- Once the gravy reaches your desired thickness, gently stir in the paneer cubes. I personally prefer to maintain a medium consistency for the gravy.
- After that, switch off the heat. Gently mix and then add crushed kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves), garam masala, and cream.
- Garnish the curry with fresh coriander leaves and finely sliced ginger. You can also add a touch of richness by dotting the gravy with a little butter or drizzling some cream on top.
- Serve the delightful Paneer Butter Masala while it's still hot, alongside plain naan, garlic naan, roti, paratha, or steamed basmati or jeera rice.
- For an additional option, consider serving it with peas pulao for a flavorful combination.
- To complement the dish, you can offer an onion-cucumber salad or some pickle as side accompaniments. Additionally, serve lemon wedges on the side for a tangy twist. Enjoy this delicious and aromatic meal to tantalize your taste buds!