paneer butter masala recipe with video and step by step photos. an easy, quick and delicious recipe of paneer butter masala. within minutes you can prepare this restaurant style paneer butter masala at home. paneer butter masala is also called as butter paneer or butter paneer masala or paneer makhani.
this is a tried and tested foolproof recipe and is one of most popular paneer recipe on the blog. this recipe is made and loved by hundreds of readers. you can read the comments at the end of the recipe post, which has a lot of positive feedback and tips from readers as well as myself. if you are familiar with paneer butter masala and indian cuisine then you can directly jump to recipe.
what is paneer butter masala
paneer butter masala is a rich, creamy, tomato and paneer based gravy dish. it is one of the most famous paneer dishes along with palak paneer, kadai paneer, malai kofta, paneer tikka masala and matar paneer. paneer butter masala is served in almost all indian restaurants.
tomatoes are a key ingredient in paneer butter masala recipe. the creaminess comes from the addition of cashews or cream – though adding cream can be skipped for a less rich version if you have used cashews. butter is also added which makes the curry rich and buttery. the taste of paneer butter masala is slightly sweet with some tang coming from the tomatoes. the gravy has a creamy and velvety feel to it.
what is the difference between paneer butter masala and paneer makhani
- basically paneer butter masala is paneer cubes cooked in a makhani gravy. according to me both paneer butter masala and paneer makhani are same. paneer butter masala recipe is made with makhani gravy. the word ‘makhani’ means buttery and is derived from the word ‘makhan’ which means butter.
- makhani gravy is made with butter, tomato puree, cashews or cream and a few herbs & spices. a few variations can be done in either paneer butter masala or paneer makhani by addition of more spices etc. do note that onions are not added in a makhani gravy. so there is absolutely no need to add onions to this recipe. in most authentic punjabi restaurants onions are never added in a paneer butter masala recipe.
how to make vegan paneer butter masala
1. to make a vegan paneer butter masala, use tofu instead of paneer.
2. add a neutral tasting oil or vegan butter instead of butter and skip cream altogether.
3. you can even use coconut cream, but with coconut cream the flavors of coconut will be felt in the final dish.
tips to make the best paneer butter masala
1. since tomatoes are the key ingredient, make sure to use ripe, red and firm tomatoes with a slightly sweet taste. the tomatoes should not be very sour or tangy.
2. always use homemade paneer if possible or a good quality store brought fresh paneer. its best to make paneer at home and does not take much time. for paneer recipes, i always make paneer at home. you can check the method of making paneer here – how to make paneer.
3. do make a really smooth puree from the tomatoes. if you want you can strain the tomato puree also.
4. the tomato puree has to be sautéed and cooked really well. oil or butter should leave sides of the tomato paste. if the tomato paste is not sautéed well, the raw flavor of tomatoes will be felt in the dish.
5. if the butter paneer masala gravy tastes tangy or sour, then to balance the sour taste you can add a bit of sugar or cream. but do not add too much sugar as then the gravy becomes too sweet. also, do note if you add cream in the recipe then you might have to add less sugar in the butter paneer gravy.
6. use good quality butter. you can use both unsalted or salted butter in paneer butter masala recipe.
7. to grind cashews to a fine consistency, it is better to soak them in hot water for 30 minutes.
8. if you don’t have cashews then the best alternative is almonds. soak the almonds in hot water for 30 minutes. then peel them and make a paste of almonds with little water.
9. you can fry the paneer cubes if you want and then add in the paneer butter masala recipe.
10. to get the bright orangish red color in the paneer butter masala, its best to use kashmiri red chilli powder or deghi mirch instead of artificial food colors. using deep red colored tomatoes also contribute to a lovely orange color in paneer butter masala recipe.
this recipe of paneer butter masala is similar to the way i would make butter chicken many years back. for the first time i had learnt how to make butter chicken during my home science days. later i used to use the same recipe for making butter paneer masala. some adaptations and improvisations have happened throughout the years.
paneer butter masala has a slightly sweet taste and very mildly spiced. thus making it an excellent gravy with chapatis for kids.
generally in butter chicken or butter paneer, cream is added. in this paneer butter masala recipe to give a creamy consistency and a sweet tinge, i have added both cashew paste and some cream. though you can skip cream too.
i never use any coloring agents in the food i make at home. what you see in the pics, is the way the butter paneer masala gravy actually looked. the organic tomatoes had such a beautiful red color and the final curry had beautiful tones of orangish red.
serve paneer butter masala with naan or tandoori rotis or chapatis or pudina paratha or lachha paratha. it also goes well with steamed basmati rice or jeera rice.
paneer butter masala
INGREDIENTS FOR paneer butter masala
for preparing cashew paste
- 18 to 20 whole cashews
- ⅓ cup hot water for soaking cashews
for preparing tomato puree
- 4 to 5 medium size tomatoes OR 300 grams tomatoes OR 2 cups of diced tomatoes - pureed
for making paneer butter masala
- 2 tablespoons butter OR 1 tablespoon oil + 1 or 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tej patta (indian bay leaf)
- 1 inch ginger (adrak) and 3 to 4 garlic (lahsun) - crushed or ground in a mortar and pestle
- ½ to 1 teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder OR deghi mirch - if using any other chilli powder you can add ¼ to ½ teaspoon
- 1.5 cups water OR add as required
- 1 inch ginger (adrak) - julienned, reserve a few for garnishing
- 1 or 2 green chili (hari mirch) - slit (reserve a few for garnishing)
- 200 to 250 grams paneer (cottage cheese) - cubed or diced
- 1 teaspoon kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves) - optional
- ½ to 1 teaspoon garam masala OR tandoori masala
- 2 to 3 tablespoons low fat cream or 1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream - optional
- ¼ to 1 teaspoon sugar - optional, add as required depending on the sourness of the tomatoes
- salt as required - check notes below for adding sugar
garnish for paneer butter masala
- 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves (cilantro leaves or dhania patta) for garnishing - optional
- a few ginger julienne
- 1 to 2 tablespoons low fat cream - optional
- 1 to 2 teaspoons butter - optional
HOW TO MAKE paneer butter masala
preparation for paneer butter masala
- soak 18 to 20 cashews in a hot water for 20 to 30 minutes. when the cashews are soaking, you can prep the other ingredients like chopping tomatoes, preparing ginger-garlic paste, slicing paneer etc.
- then drain and add the soaked cashews in a blender or grinder.
- add 2 to 3 tablespoons water and grind to a smooth paste without any tiny bits or pieces of cashews.
- in the same blender add 2 cups of diced or roughly chopped tomatoes. no need to blanch the tomatoes before blending.
- blend to a smooth tomato puree. keep aside. don’t add any water while blending the tomatoes.
making makhani gravy for paneer butter masala
- melt butter in a pan on a low flame. add bay leaf and fry for 2 to 3 seconds or till the oil become fragrant.
- add ginger-garlic paste and saute for some seconds till the raw aroma disappears.
- add the tomato puree and stir well. cook for 5 to 6 minutes. then add kashmiri red chili powder and stir again. continue to saute till the oil starts to leave the sides of the tomato paste. the tomato paste will thicken considerably and will start coming together as one whole lump.
- then add cashew paste and stir well. saute the cashew paste for a few minutes till the oil begins to leave the sides of the masala paste.
- the cashew paste will begin to cook fast. approx 3 to 4 minutes on a low flame. so keep stirring non-stop.
making paneer butter masala
- add water and mix very well. simmer on a low flame.
- the curry will come to a boil.
- after 2 to 3 minutes of boiling, add ginger julienne. reserve a few for garnishing. the curry will also begin to thicken.
- add julienned ginger and green chillies, salt and sugar and simmer till the curry begins to thicken.
- after 3 to 4 minutes, add 1 or 2 slit green chillies. also add salt as per taste and ½ to 1 teaspoon sugar (optional).
- you can add sugar from ¼ tsp to 1 teaspoon or more depending on the sourness of the tomatoes. sugar is optional and you can skip it too. if you add cream, then you will need to add less sugar.
- mix very well and simmer for a minute.
- after the gravy thickens to your desired consistency, then add the paneer cubes and stir gently. i keep the gravy of paneer butter masala to a medium consistency.
- after that add crushed kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves), garam masala and cream. gently mix and then switch off the flame.
serving paneer butter masala
- garnish paneer butter masala with coriander leaves and ginger julienne.
- you can even dot the paneer makhani gravy with some butter or drizzle some cream.
- serve paneer butter masala hot with plain naan, garlic naan, roti, paratha or steamed basmati or jeera rice or even peas pulao.
- side accompaniments to paneer butter masala can be an onion-cucumber salad or some pickle. also serve some lemon wedges by the side.
- addition of sugar depends upon your taste as well as the tanginess present in the tomatoes. if you add cream in the recipe then you might have to add less sugar.
- for this recipe, its best to use fresh, ripe red tomatoes.
- best to use homemade soft paneer.
- the amount of cream can be adjusted as per your taste.
- if you don't have cashews then the alternative is almonds. blanch the almonds. peel them and then make a paste of almonds with little water.
preparation for paneer butter masala
1. soak 18 to 20 cashews in ⅓ cup hot water for 20 to 30 minutes.
2. when the cashews are soaking, you can prep the other ingredients like chopping tomatoes, chopping and preparing the ginger-garlic paste, slicing paneer etc.
3. crush 1-inch ginger + 3 to 4 medium-sized garlic to a paste in a mortar-pestle to a semi fine or fine paste. keep aside. don’t add any water while crushing ginger & garlic.
4. after 20 to 30 minutes, drain the water and add the soaked cashews in a blender or grinder. also add 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh water or as required.
5. grind to a smooth paste without any tiny bits or pieces of cashews.
6. remove the cashew paste in a bowl and keep aside.
7. in the same blender add 2 cups of diced or roughly chopped tomatoes. no need to blanch the tomatoes before blending.
8. blend to a smooth tomato puree. keep aside. don’t add any water while blending the tomatoes.
making makhani gravy for paneer butter masala
9. heat a thick bottomed pan or a heavy pan. keep the flame to a low or medium-low. add 2 tablespoons butter OR 1 tablespoon oil + 1 or 2 tbsp butter in a pan. adding oil prevents the butter from browning too quickly.
10. if using only butter, then keep the pan on a low flame so that the butter does not melt. you can even add 3 to 4 tablespoons butter for a rich buttery version of paneer butter masala. both salted or unsalted butter can be added.
10. keep the flame to a low. add 1 medium sized tej patta (indian bay leaf).
11. fry for 2 to 3 seconds or till the oil becomes fragrant from the aroma of the tej patta.
12. add the prepared crushed ginger-garlic or 1 teaspoon ready ginger-garlic paste.
13. fry for some seconds till the raw aroma of the ginger-garlic disappears.
14. pour the prepared tomato puree. be careful while adding the puree as it may splutter.
15. mix it very well with the butter.
16. begin to cook the tomato puree on a low to medium-low flame. stir at intervals.
17. the tomato puree mixture will start simmering.
18. in case the tomato puree splutters too much while cooking then cover the pan partly with a lid or cover fully with a splatter lid (channi lid). the tomato puree might splutter if there is more water content in the tomatoes.
19. do stir at intervals.
20. simmer the puree for 5 to 6 minutes.
21. then add 1 teaspoon kashmiri red chilli powder or deghi mirch. you can even add ½ teaspoon kashmiri red chilli powder.
22. mix well and continue to stir and saute the tomato puree.
23. saute till the butter starts leaving the sides of the pan and the entire tomato puree mixture comes together as a whole. this entire cooking and sauteing of the tomato puree takes about 14 to 17 minutes on a low flame to medium-low flame. time will vary depending on the thickness of pan, size, intensity of flame etc.
24. now add the prepare cashew paste.
25. mix the cashew paste very well with the cooked tomato puree and continue to stir and saute on a low to medium-low flame. stir non-stop after adding cashew paste.
26. saute till the cashew paste is cooked and again the oil will start to leave the sides of the masala. the cashew will begin to cook fast. approx 3 to 4 minutes on a low flame. so keep on stirring non-stop.
27. next add 1.5 cups water.
making paneer butter masala
28. mix the water very well with the tomato-cashew makhani masala. if there are lumps of the tomato-cashew masala, then break with a spoon. you can even use a wired whisk for mixing.
29. let the curry simmer and come to a boil. stir occasionally.
30. after 2 to 3 mins, add ginger julienne (about 1-inch ginger – cut in julienne (thin matchstick-like strips). reserve a few for garnishing. the curry will also begin to thicken.
31. after 3 to 4 minutes, add 1 or 2 slit green chillies.
32. also add salt as per taste and ½ to 1 teaspoon sugar (optional). you can add sugar from ¼ tsp to 1 teaspoon or more depending on the sourness of the tomatoes. sugar is optional and you can skip it too. if you add cream, then you will need to add less sugar.
33. mix very well and simmer for a minute.
34. after the gravy thickens to your desired consistency, then add the paneer cubes (200 or 250 grams). keep in mind the consistency you want before you add paneer as you will be cooking the paneer for some seconds. you can also fry the paneer and then add the paneer once the gravy has become creamy. i keep the gravy of paneer butter masala to a medium consistency gravy.
35. stir and mix the paneer cubes gently in the paneer makhani gravy.
36. now add 1 teaspoon kasuri methi leaves (crushed) and 1 teaspoon garam masala in the paneer butter masala gravy. addition of crushed kasuri methi gives a restaurant flavor. kasuri methi is optional and can be skipped.
37. next add 2 to 3 tablespoons of low-fat cream or 1 to 2 tablespoons of whipping cream.
38. stir gently but well and switch off the flame.
39. serve paneer butter masala hot garnished with 1 to 2 tablespoons of chopped coriander leaves, the remaining ginger julienne. you can also drizzle some cream or dot with butter while serving paneer butter masala gravy. good combo for paneer butter masala is naan or butter naan or tandoori rotis or plain paratha or roomali roti or malabar paratha.
paneer butter masala also goes well with steamed basmati rice or jeera rice or biryani rice. i served with whole wheat roti accompanied with onion-cucumber salad. also, do serve some lemon wedges by the side.