Achari Paneer

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Achari Paneer – which essentially translates to “pickled cottage cheese” – is a delicious Northern Indian dish where soft pieces of paneer are served in a creamy, masala gravy accentuated with pickle spices and tangy curd. Here I show you how to make this yummy Punjabi recipe using step-by-step photos.

overhead shot of achari paneer in a white bowl garnished with a mint sprig on a light pink napkin with a plate of folded rotis above

Why This Recipe Works

During my many years as a cook, I’ve tried many achari paneer recipes that were quite disappointing. This recipe is the culmination of many years of experimentation, and the results were too good that I have to share!

The robust flavor of the pickling spices is pronounced without being overwhelming, and the sourness of the fresh curd complements the spices perfectly. If you are fond of pickles, you will love achari paneer!

I also like that this recipe is made without any onions or garlic. If you have an aversion to alliums, don’t fret! This tangy paneer gravy recipe was made for you. That said, if you’re a fan of onions and garlic, you can absolutely add them.

In my opinion, achari paneer is best served with tandoori roti, paratha or naan, but you can absolutely opt to serve it with rice, steamed veggies or a side salad if you have a gluten intolerance.

My friends, this is a really good paneer achari recipe. The taste is similar to that of grilled Achari paneer tikka, but you get soft pieces of paneer in a smooth, luxurious gravy. If you are looking for a new way to prepare your paneer, stop your scrolling and get to cooking!

Step-by-Step Guide

How to Make Achari Paneer

Roasting pickling spices

1. First take the achari or pickling spices in a pan. The five pickling spices in clockwise order are:

  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
  • ½ teaspoon nigella seeds (kalonji)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
spices for achari paneer masala recipe in a sauté pan

2. Heat the pan on a low flame and roast the spices till they are *just* fragrant. Don’t brown them or burn them.

heating and roasting the spices for achari paneer masala recipe

3. Once cooled, add the spices to a small spice grinder. (You can also use a mortar and pestle if you don’t have a spice grinder.)

achari paneer masala spices in a grinder prior to blending

4. Grind to a semi-fine powder.

ground achari spices in spice blender

5. Remove the achari masala powder and set aside for later.

achari spices that have been placed in a small green bowl

6. In the same grinder, add 10 to 12 cashews.

cashews for achari paneer recipe that have been added to a spice grinder

7. Grind to a fine powder. Don’t worry if some fat is removed during the grinding process; that is natural.

ground cashews for achari paneer recipe

8. In a bowl, take 1 cup fresh whole milk curd/yogurt and whisk it till smooth. Use fresh curd and not sour curd.

bowl of fresh curd with a whisk

Making achari masala

9. Heat 2 tablespoons of mustard oil or sunflower oil or ghee in a pan.

If using mustard oil, then allow it to smoke before you add the spices. For any other oil or ghee, just heat it until shimmering in the pan. Then lower the flame and add 2 dry red chilies and a generous pinch of asafoetida.

TIP: If you are gluten intolerant, be sure that your asafoetida is gluten free! Many commercially available brands are processed with wheat.

ghee in a pan with some dried red chiles

10. Saute for a few seconds till the red chilies change color.

chillies roasting in ghee for achari paneer masala recipe

11. Then add 1.5 teaspoons ginger-green chili paste (about ½ inch ginger + 1 to 2 green chilies crushed to a paste in mortar-pestle).

ginger chile paste added to ghee with chiles

12. Stir and sauté till the raw aroma of ginger goes away.

sautéing aromatics for achari paneer

13. Then add ⅓ cup tightly packed chopped tomatoes.

tomatoes added to aromatics in pan

14. Stir and add the following spices:

  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder (ground coriander)
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin powder (optional)
ground spices added with tomato, chile and ginger mix

15. Again stir very well and sauté the tomatoes till they soften completely and become pulpy. You should also see oil releasing from the sides.

tomatoes are beginning to turn pulpy in the pan while making achari gravy

16. Now add the cashew powder.

NOTE: If using store brought cashew powder, then add 2 tbsp cashew powder. Check the shelf life of the store brought cashew powder before adding, as it can go rancid during storage.

cashew powder added to achari paneer gravy recipe

17. On a low-medium flame, stir and sauté the mixture for 2 minutes after adding cashew powder.

sauteing achari paneer masala recipe

18. Reserve 1 teaspoon of the ground achari masala spice mix and add the rest.

ground achari masala spice mix added to pan

19. Stir very well. At this stage, you can also add 1 to 2 teaspoons of mango pickle masala, if you have it.

making gravy for achari paneer

20. Add 1 to 1.5 tablespoons besan (also known as gram flour). You can swap gram flour with chickpea flour. We are adding besan so that the curd does not separate.

besan added to pan with other achari masala ingredients

21. Stir the besan very well and incorporate it into the rest of the masala.

achari masala mix completed and ready to turn into gravy

Making paneer achari gravy

22. Keep the flame on a low and add the beaten curd.

curd added to achari paneer gravy

23. As soon as you add the curd, begin to stir the mixture quickly.

stirring curd and achari masala

24. Continuing to stir quickly, incorporate the curd well into the rest of the masala.

gravy for achari paneer after stirring vigorously

25. Add salt to taste.

salt added to achari paneer gravy recipe

26. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes on a low flame.

simmer achari gravy in pan

27. Add the paneer cubes. I recommend using 200 or 250 grams paneer chopped in cubes.

paneer added to achari gravy

28. Cook the paneer cubes for about 20 to 30 seconds. Don’t cook for more time as then the paneer cubes can get chewy and rubbery. Switch off the heat.

paneer stirred into achari gravy in the pan

29. Then add 3 tablespoons light cream or low-fat fresh cream. You can also use 1 to 2 tablespoon of whipping cream or heavy cream.

Also add ½ teaspoon crushed kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves) to the paneer achari gravy.

cream added to achari paneer

30. Gently mix very well.

stir achari paneer recipe

31. Add 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves and 1 teaspoon chopped mint leaves. Stir.

fresh mint and coriander leaves added to achari paneer gravy

32. While serving, sprinkle the reserved achari masala from the top and garnish with a coriander or mint sprig. Serve achari paneer with tandoori roti, chapati or naan or plain paratha or laccha paratha or rumali roti.

achari paneer in a white bowl garnished with a mint sprig on a light pink napkin with a plate of folded rotis above

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I substitute another nut for cashews?

Yes! Feel free to swap in almonds or peanuts, or opt for sunflower seeds if you have a nut allergy.

Can I make achari paneer ahead of time?

I won’t recommend this. This gravy tastes best when served hot as soon as it is made. On refrigeration, because of the yogurt, the taste will change. Moreover on reheating the paneer cubes lose their softness and can become hard.

Can I make a dairy free version of achari paneer?

If necessary, you can swap the paneer for a firm block of tofu. While I haven’t tried it myself, I suppose opting for a dairy free yogurt and either omitting the cream or swapping for coconut cream should also work fine!

Need more paneer recipes? Check out some of my favorites:

If you made this recipe, please be sure to rate it in the recipe card below. Sign Up for my email newsletter or you can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest or Twitter for more vegetarian inspirations.

overhead shot of achari paneer in a white bowl garnished with a mint sprig on a light pink napkin

Achari Paneer

4.76 from 45 votes
Paneer achari is a creamy as well as robust flavored cottage cheese curry with achari masala or pickling spices. If love pickles, you will surely like this achari paneer.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins

Cuisine North Indian
Course: Main Course
Diet: Vegetarian
Difficulty Level: Moderate

Servings 4
Units

Ingredients

Pickling spices

  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon nigella seeds (kalonji)
  • ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi dana)

Other ingredients

  • 200 to 250 grams Paneer chopped in cubes or squares (cottage cheese)
  • 1 cup fresh whole milk curd (yogurt) or 240 grams curd
  • 1.5 teaspoon ginger-green chili paste or ½ inch ginger + 1 or 2 green chilies
  • 2 dry red chilies
  • 1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
  • 1 medium tomato chopped, about ⅓ cup tightly packed chopped tomatoes, 75 to 80 grams of tomatoes
  • 10 to 12 cashews or 2 tablespoon cashews or 2 tablespoon cashew powder
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne pepper or paprika
  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder (ground coriander)
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin powder – optional
  • 1 or 2 teaspoon mango pickle masala (optional)
  • 1 to 1.5 tablespoon besan (gram flour)
  • ½ teaspoon dry fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
  • 3 tablespoon light cream or low fat cream or 1 to 2 tbsp whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoon mustard oil or sunflower oil or ghee
  • 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves (cilantro leaves)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped mint leaves
  • salt as required

Instructions

Roasting pickling spices

  • First take the achari or pickling spices in a pan – fennel seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, nigella seeds and fenugreek seeds.
  • Heat the pan and on a low flame roast the spices till they are fragrant. Don’t brown them.
  • Once cooled, add the spices in a small dry grinder or spice grinder and grind to a semi fine powder.
  • Remove the achari masala powder and keep aside in a bowl.

Making masala base

  • In the same grinder, add 10 to 12 cashews.
  • Grind to a fine powder. If oil releases while grinding then its fine.
  • In a bowl, take fresh whole milk curd/yogurt and whisk it till smooth. Use fresh curd and not sour curd.
  • Heat mustard oil or sunflower oil or ghee in a pan.
  • On a low flame, add 2 dry red chilies and a generous pinch of asafoetida. Saute for some seconds till the red chilies change color.
  • Then add ginger-green chili paste. Stir and saute till the raw aroma of ginger goes away.
  • Then add the chopped tomatoes and stir.
  • Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder and cumin powder (optional).
  • Again stir very well and saute the tomatoes till the tomatoes soften completely and become pulpy. You should also see oil releasing from the sides.
  • Now add the cashew powder. If using store brough cashew powder, then add 2 tablespoons cashew powder. Do check the shelf life of store brought cashew powder before adding.
  • On a low to medium flame, stir and saute the mixture for 2 minutes after adding cashew powder.
  • Reserve 1 teaspoon of the ground achari masala and add the rest. Stir very well.
  • Add 1 tablespoon besan. We are adding besan so that the curd does not curdle. You can swap besan (gram flour) with chickpea flour.
  • Stir the besan very well and incorporate it into the rest of the masala.

Making paneer achari gravy

  • Keep the flame on a low and add the beaten curd.
  • As soon as you add the curd, begin to stir the mixture quickly and fast. Stirring quickly, incorporate the curd well into the rest of the masala.
  • Add salt as per taste.
  • Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes on a low flame.
  • Add the paneer cubes. 200 or 250 grams paneer chopped in cubes.
  • Cook the paneer cubes for about 20 to 30 seconds and switch off the heat. Don't cook for more time as then paneer cubes may lose their softness and will become hard.
  • Then add light cream or low fat cream. Also add crushed kasuri methi to the gravy. Gently stir very well.
  • Switch off the flame and add chopped coriander leaves and chopped mint leave. Stir gently again.
  • While serving sprinkle the reserved achari masala from top and garnish with a coriander or mint sprig. Serve achari paneer masala with tandoori roti, chapati, rumali roti, plain paratha or naan.

Notes

  • This recipe can’t be scaled easily. Try to follow the recipe as it is without making any changes in the ingredient proportions. Since this is a complexly flavored gravy, any changes may off-balance the taste.
  • Use fresh curd or yogurt. The curd should not be sour as then the gravy will become very sour.
  • For the achari masala use spices that are fresh and have not gone rancid.
  • I would suggest making this dish when you plan to serve it hot and fresh. Don’t make this dish ahead as on refrigeration the flavors will change and while reheating the paneer cubes will become dense.

Nutrition Info Approximate values

Nutrition Facts
Achari Paneer
Amount Per Serving
Calories 321 Calories from Fat 243
% Daily Value*
Fat 27g42%
Saturated Fat 12g75%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 53mg18%
Sodium 345mg15%
Potassium 258mg7%
Carbohydrates 9g3%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 11g22%
Vitamin A 589IU12%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin B12 1µg17%
Vitamin C 5mg6%
Vitamin D 1µg7%
Vitamin E 1mg7%
Vitamin K 5µg5%
Calcium 344mg34%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 12µg3%
Iron 2mg11%
Magnesium 31mg8%
Phosphorus 109mg11%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Achari Paneer post is from the blog archives (April 2015) has been republished and updated on 1st June 2021.

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Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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143 Comments

  1. I have tried all your dal n all the variety of punjabi paneer sabji during this lockdown… it was an amazing time to cook with you… it’s yummy Tasty mouth watering experience… thank you so much5 stars

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