Paneer Bhurji is a popular and delicious North Indian breakfast recipe made from crumbled Paneer (Indian Cottage Cheese). This Paneer Bhurji Recipe is Punjabi Style and way I make it. In this quick and simple vegetarian recipe, the crumbled homemade paneer is added to sautéed base of onions, tomatoes and spices for a satisfying and tasty breakfast dish.
What is Paneer Bhurji?
in Hindi, the word ‘Bhurji’ means scrambled so this dish is basically scrambled paneer or cottage cheese. A perfectly savory, tangy, spiced mixture made of onions, tomatoes, ginger-garlic paste, green chillies (hot peppers) and various spices is then used to mix with the scrambled paneer.
This flavorful dish, as with most bhurji recipes, is quick to make and ideal for breakfast. You can say that is the vegetarian version of the Indian Style scrambled eggs which is called as Egg Bhurji or Anda Bhurji in Hindi.
Besides paneer bhurji, egg bhurji is also quite popular and served in most North Indian dhabas (road side eateries). In Punjabi homes, they also make Mooli Bhurji with grated or chopped white radish roots.
For a vegan version of the bhurji, use firm tofu instead of paneer. Don’t use silken tofu or the tofu that is soft. You can refer to this recipe of Tofu Bhurji.
Ingredients You Need
- Paneer (Firm Cottage Cheese): Obviously paneer is the main ingredient in this recipe. Paneer is fresh cheese where milk is curdled by adding a food acid (lemon juice or vinegar). Whenever I make any dish that uses paneer, I prefer to use homemade rather than store-bought paneer as it is tastier and fresher.
- Homemade Paneer: Making paneer from scratch may sound intimidating at first, but once you try it you will see it is quite easy and tastes so good. Simply follow these step-by-step instructions on How to Make Paneer and you will have a block of homemade paneer in under thirty minutes.
- Ginger-Garlic Paste: A paste of ginger and garlic is also used in this recipe. To make this paste you simply use a mortar and pestle to crush together the fresh ginger and garlic. Although a freshly made paste is always better, a ready-made ginger-garlic paste also can be used.
- Spices: The spices added are the usual Indian ground spices like red chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and garam masala. Most of these ground Indian spices are easily available outside India in asian stores and even online. For the garam masala, I always use homemade garam masala in all my recipes. To make an aromatic and flavorful garam masala, check this recipe of homemade Garam Masala.
- Onions and Tomatoes: Both onions and tomatoes are unanimously added in many Indian dishes. For the onions, you can use red onions, yellow onions or white onions. For tomatoes, use ones which are ripe, red and not too tart or sour.
How to make Paneer Bhurji
Prep Paneer and Make Onion Tomato Masala
1. Crumble 200 to 250 grams paneer (cottage cheese) with your fingers and keep aside. I have used homemade paneer.
Paneer is soft and can be easily crumbled. Do not make a superfine or fine crumble. Simply break the block of paneer or paneer cubes to coarse crumble with some chunks of paneer in it.
2. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a frying pan or kadai. You can even use ghee or butter instead of oil. Add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds and let them crackle.
3. Then add ½ cup finely chopped onions.
4. Sauté the onions till they turn translucent and soften. Sauté onions on a medium-low heat.
5. Then add 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste and chopped green chillies.
6. Mix very well and sauté for some seconds till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away.
7. Add 1 cup finely chopped tomatoes (tightly packed).
8. Mix the tomatoes and begin to sauté them on a medium-low heat.
9. Sauté the tomatoes till they completely soften. You can also add a pinch of salt so that the tomatoes get cooked faster.
You will see oil releasing from the sides from the mixture once the tomatoes are softened.
10. Now add all the ground spice powders one by one:
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
- ½ teaspoon red chilli powder (or ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper)
- ½ teaspoon coriander powder (ground coriander)
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
11. Mix very well and sauté for 5 to 6 seconds on low to medium-low heat.
Make Paneer Bhurji
12. Add the crumbled paneer and salt as per taste.
13. Mix thoroughly and cook the paneer for 1 minute on low heat. Don’t cook the paneer for a long time as they harden and loose their softness.
14. Switch off the heat and lastly add 3 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves. Mix very well.
14. Serve Paneer Bhurji hot with any roti or paratha (Indian flat breads) or dinner rolls (pav) or bread. You can also serve it with toasted bread.
Serve with a side of thinly sliced onions and lemon wedges. Do squeeze some lemon juice on the paneer bhurji when eating.
More Serving Suggestions
It is best to have paneer bhurji hot with some bread, soft dinner rolls (pav) or Indian breads like roti or paratha.
Sometimes I toast bread slices and top it with paneer bhurji. You can even make paneer bhurji sandwiches. Place the paneer bhurji filling topped with thinly sliced raw onions, tomatoes or cucumber between two bread slices. Serve as is or toast or grill further.
In North India paneer bhurji is often served with roti or bread. You can also serve it as a side dish with North Indian mains.
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Paneer Bhurji (Punjabi Style Recipe)
- 3 tablespoons oil or ghee, butter or white butter
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ cup onions (finely chopped) or 1 medium sized
- 3 to 4 small garlic cloves + 1 inch ginger peeled, made to a paste in mortar-pestle or 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
- 1 or 2 green chillies – finely chopped or slit
- 1 cup tomatoes (tightly packed, finely chopped) or 2 medium sized to large tomatoes
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
- ½ teaspoon red chilli powder or ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon Coriander Powder (ground coriander)
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon Garam Masala
- 200 to 250 grams Paneer (Indian cottage cheese)
- salt as required
- 3 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)
- Crumble the paneer and set aside. You do not need to make a fine crumble. A coarse crumble with some chunks of paneer is fine.
- Finely chop the onions, tomatoes and green chillies. Keep aside.
- Crush the ginger and garlic to a paste in a mortar pestle and keep aside.
- Also remove the spice powders and keep aside.
Making Paneer Bhurji
- Heat oil or ghee or butter in a pan. Let the oil become hot on a medium-low or medium flame.
- Add cumin seeds. Let them crackle and change color. Once they get browned, add onions.
- Mix well and sauté the onions. When the onions become translucent, add ginger-garlic paste and chopped green chilies.
- Sauté for some seconds till the raw aroma of the ginger-garlic goes away.
- Then add tomatoes and sauté on medium-low heat till they become soft. You can add a pinch of salt so that the tomatoes get cooked faster.
- Now add all the dry spice powders – turmeric, red chili powder, coriander powder and garam masala powder.
- Mix the spice powders very well and sauté for 5 to 6 seconds.
- Then, add the crumbled paneer. Mix throughly and cook for 1 minute on low heat.
- Don’t cook the paneer for a long time as they harden and loose their softness.
- Lastly add the chopped coriander leaves and mix.
- Serve Paneer Bhurji hot with bread toast. You can also serve it with roti, plain paratha or as a stuffing in burrito or wraps.
- Paneer: For best results used homemade paneer. If using packaged paneer or frozen paneer, then follow the instructions mentioned on the pack before using.
- Tomatoes: The tangy taste in paneer bhurji comes from the tomatoes. So do use tomatoes which are ripe and with a sweet-tangy taste. Avoid adding tomatoes which are too sour.
- Spicing: You can reduce or increase the amount of green chillies, red chilli powder or cayenne pepper as per your preferences. Do not add more garam masala than what is mentioned in the recipe. If the garam masala is very strong, then just add ¼ teaspoon of it.
- Herbs: Always fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) are added in the dish. But you can use fresh mint leaves too. Just add 1 to 2 tablespoons of chopped mint leaves.
- Fat: For the fat you can use oil or butter or ghee. Note that the type of fat used does change the taste of the dish.
- Vegan Option: Use firm tofu in place of paneer. Do not use silken tofu or soft tofu.
Nutrition Info (Approximate values)
This Paneer Bhurji recipe post from the archives first published in June 2013 has been republished and updated on November 2022.