Paneer Lababdar

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Paneer Lababdar is an easy-to-prepare, restaurant-style dish of paneer (cottage cheese cubes) in a creamy, mildly tangy and faintly sweet gravy. Onions, tomatoes, cashews and spices make this a rich, flavorful and delicious recipe. This vegetarian Paneer Lababdar recipe is also naturally gluten-free.

paneer lababdar in a black bowl with ginger julienne on top

About this recipe

Paneer lababdar is a popular paneer gravy dish and can be found on the menu of many Indian restaurants.

My paneer lababdar recipe is more Punjabi style than Mughlai style with the addition of onions, tomatoes, cashews and spices. It does not rely heavily on the usage of plenty of nuts, dry fruits or seeds. Cashews are the only nuts added in the recipe.

Paneer lababdar is truly a dish that you will always love to make for special days or festival days. Its richness, creaminess and deliciousness will wow you every time. Perfectly apt to make for festive or special occasions.

What is paneer lababdar made of?

Paneer lababdar gravy is made from a spiced tomato and cashew paste that is then sautéed with onions, more spices and herbs, has a lovely tang to it and is full of flavor. The addition of sugar and cream give the dish a creamy and faintly sweet taste.  

You need your regular Indian pantry staple ingredients to make this restaurant style paneer lababdar recipe.

  • Paneer (Indian cottage cheese): This is the main ingredient in the dish and it is important to use a good quality paneer. In fact, as with all my paneer recipes, I recommend using Homemade Paneer. This ensures freshness and avoids any hidden ingredients and preservatives found in store-bought paneer.
  • Tomatoes: Giving the dish a bit of tang, tomatoes are an important ingredient in the gravy. Be sure to choose tomatoes that aren’t too tangy or sour.
  • Cashews: The creamy consistency in paneer lababdar comes from cashews. The cashews are ground to a paste with the tomatoes. Cashews also add a lovely sweetness to the dish.
  • Cream: Adding cream also adds to the sweetness and richness in the paneer lababdar gravy making it a restaurant style dish.
  • Onions: In the curry, onions are not pureed, but chopped and lightly caramelized. Thus they add some sweetness and a slight sharp flavor to the curry.
  • Spices and Herbs: Most of the spices and herbs used in this recipe are common and you probably already have them in your kitchen. The garam masala powder can be purchased, but is also a great spice to make from scratch and have on hand. Here I share the recipe for making Garam Masala Powder.
Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Paneer Lababdar

Preparation

1. Add 1.5 cups chopped tomatoes, 10 to 12 cashews, 1 inch chopped ginger, 2 to 3 chopped garlic cloves ((medium-sized), 1 green cardamom, 2 cloves and ½ cup water to a small pan. Use tomatoes which are not too tangy or sour.

chopped tomatoes, spices and cashews and water in a pan

2. Switch on the flame and simmer this mixture on a low flame.

tomatoes and cashews being simmered in water

3. Cook until the tomatoes are softened. If the water dries up and the tomatoes are not softened, then add about 2 to 3 tablespoons water and continue to cook. When I cooked it, almost all the water was evaporated.

tomatoes have softened

4. Allow this mixture to become warm or cool completely and add to a grinder or blender jar.

softened tomatoes ,cashews added in a blender

5. Grind to a smooth paste. There should not be any cashews or tomato chunks in the paste. You may add some water if required while grinding. Set this ground tomato-cashew-spices paste aside.

tomato-cashew paste ready to make paneer lababdar recipe

Sautéing onions and tomato paste

6. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a pan, kadai or wok. You can also use ghee (clarified butter) or oil.

butter being melted in a pan

7. Add 1 tej patta (Indian bay leaf) and saute for a couple of seconds.

tej patta added in the melted butter

8. Add ½ cup finely chopped onions.

finely chopped onions added

9. Stir well.

onions being sautéed

10. Then continue to saute as well as stir and cook until the onions become light golden or golden.

onions have turned to a light golden

11. Then add the tomato-cashew-spices paste. The mixture will splutter if there is water in it, so be careful.

tomato-cashew paste added to make paneer lababdar

12. Mix very well.

tomato cashew paste mixed with the sautéed onions

13. Add ½ teaspoon cumin powder, ½ teaspoon coriander powder (ground coriander) and ½ teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne pepper.

spice powders added

14. Stir and saute this masala. You will see the masala clumping and gathering around itself.

spice powders mixed

15. Sauté until you see fat leaving the sides of the masala paste. The masala will also glossy and shiny.

sautéing the masala paste with oil being released at the sides

Making Paneer Lababdar

16. Then add 1 cup water.

water added

17. Mix very well.

water mixed

18. Add 1 or 2 slit green chilies.

slit green chilies added

19. Stir and allow the gravy to come to a simmer.

simmering the gravy

20. Then season with salt.

salt being added with a measuring spoon

21. Add sugar. I added ½ teaspoon of sugar but you can add as per your taste.

sugar being added with a measuring spoon

21. Add 200 grams paneer which has been cut into cubes or squares. Also add 2 tablespoons grated paneer.

Here I used fresh homemade paneer. If using frozen paneer, then keep it in warm water for some minutes and then slice as well as grate.

grated paneer and paneer cubes added to make paneer lababdar

22. Gently mix.

paneer mixed with the gravy

23. Then sprinkle 1 teaspoon kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves) which has been crushed along with ¼ teaspoon garam masala powder. Mix very well again.

kasuri methi and garam masala powder added in the paneer lababdar gravy

24. Add ¼ cup low fat cream or 1 to 2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream.

cream added to paneer lababdar gravy

25. Switch off the heat and mix very well. You can also add 1 tablespoon butter at this step or dot the gravy with butter while serving. This is optional.

cream mixed and paneer lababdar is ready to be served

26. Garnish paneer lababdar with chopped coriander leaves (cilantro) and ginger julienne.

paneer lababdar served in a black bowl with ginger julienne on top

Serving Suggestions

Paneer labadar goes very well with Indian flatbreads, including roti, naan, or pudina paratha. Also, this creamy gravy can be served with jeera rice or vegetable pulao. 

Tips

Tips + FAQs

Can i use canned tomatoes or tomato puree?

Yes definitely. Add 1.5 cups of canned tomatoes while blending cashews. You do not need to cook the canned tomatoes with cashews. For tomato puree, add ¾ cup of it directly when sautéing with the cashew paste. You just need to make the cashew and spices paste if you use tomato puree.

What can I use instead of kasuri methi?

Kasuri methi are dried fenugreek leaves. If you don’t have them, just skip them.

Can I make paneer lababdar without onion and garlic?

Yes of course! To get the mild flavors of onion and garlic without actually using them in the recipe, add 1 pinch of asafetida or hing (that is if you have it) when sautéing the tomato-cashew paste.

Can I skip cream?

Yes you can easily skip adding cream.

Can i use malai?

Malai which is the clotted cream that collects on the top of boiled milk has to be whipped to a smooth flowing consistency before you add it to the gravy.

What can I replace cashews with?

Add almonds which have been blanched in hot water for 30 minutes with their peels removed.

Can I do the dhungar method to this paneer lababdar?

Yes sure you can do that. Dhungar method will make your paneer lababdar have truly smoky restaurant style flavors.

How do I make a vegan recipe of paneer lababdar?

Replace firm tofu, seitan, tempeh with paneer. Skip adding cream altogether or replace it with coconut cream. Add a neutral tasting oil instead of butter.

Can I make a large batch and freeze it

Yes you can definitely do that. My recipe can be easily scaled. If freezing, paneer lababdar gravy stays well for about a month. In the refrigerator, it stays good for a couple of days.

More Restaurant Style Paneer Gravies!

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paneer lababdar recipe

Paneer Lababdar

4.82 from 97 votes
Paneer Lababdar is an easy-to-prepare, restaurant-style curry of paneer (cottage cheese cubes) in a creamy, mildly tangy and faintly sweet gravy. This vegetarian Paneer Lababdar recipe is also naturally gluten-free.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 40 mins

Cuisine North Indian, Punjabi
Course: Main Course
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Difficulty Level: Easy

Servings 4
Units

Ingredients

For tomato-cashew paste

  • 1.5 cups chopped tomatoes (ripe and red), 250 grams
  • 10 to 12 cashews
  • 1 inch ginger – chopped
  • 2 to 3 garlic (medium-sized) – chopped
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 green cardamom
  • 2 cloves

More ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tej patta (Indian bay leaf)
  • ½ cup finely chopped onions – 100 grams
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder (ground cumin)
  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder (ground coriander)
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder or kashmiri red chili powder or cayenne pepper
  • 1 or 1.25 cups water or add as required
  • 1 or 2 green chilies or serrano peppers – slit
  • salt as required
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon sugar or add as required
  • 200 grams Paneer (cottage cheese)
  • 2 tablespoon grated paneer
  • ¼ teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
  • 1 teaspoon kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves) – crushed
  • ¼ cup low-fat cream or 1 to 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter added later – (optional)

For garnish

  • 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves (cilantro leaves)
  • 1 inch ginger – julienne

Instructions

Preparing tomato-cashew paste

  • Take chopped tomatoes, cashews, chopped ginger and garlic, green cardamom, cloves and water in a small pan. Use tomatoes which are not too tangy or sour.
  • Switch on the flame and simmer this mixture on a low flame.
  • Cook until the tomatoes are softened. If the water dries up and the tomatoes are not softened, then add about 2 to 3 tablespoons water and continue to cook.
  • Allow this mixture to become warm or cool completely and add to a grinder or blender jar.
  • Grind to a smooth paste without any cahsews or tomato chunks or pieces. You may add some water if required while grinding. Keep this ground tomato-cashew-spices paste aside.

Sautéing onions and tomato-cashew paste

  • Heat butter in pan or kadai or wok. Add the tej patta and sauté for a couple of seconds.
  • Add finely chopped onions. Stir well.
  • Then continue to saute as well as stir and cook till the onions become light golden or golden.
  • Then add the tomato-cashew-spices paste. The mixture will splutter if there is water in it, so be careful. Stir very well.
  • Add cumin powder, coriander powder and red chili powder.
  • Stir and saute this masala. You will see the masala clumping and gathering around itself.
  • Saute till you see fat leaving the sides of the masala paste.

Making paneer lababdar

  • Then add water. Mix very well.
  • Add the slit green chilies.
  • Stir and allow the gravy to come to a simmer. Then season with salt and sugar.
  • Add paneer cubes and grated paneer.
  • Gently mix and combine.
  • Then sprinkle kasuri methi which has been crushed with the garam masala powder. Stir very well again.
  • Lastly add the low-fat cream or heavy whipping cream. Switch off the heat & combine very well. You can also add 1 tablespoon butter at this step. This is optional.
  • Garnish paneer lababdar with chopped coriander leaves and ginger julienne. Serve with chapati, tandoori roti or naan. It also goes well with cumin rice or veg pulao.

Video

Notes

Ingredient Swaps

  • Tomatoes: In place of fresh tomatoes, use 1.5 cups of canned tomatoes while blending cashews. You do not need to cook the canned tomatoes with cashews. You can also use ¾ cup tomato puree and add it when sautéing with the cashew paste. You only need to make the cashew and spices paste if you are going to use tomato puree.
  • Kasuri Methi: Skip dried fenugreek leaves if you do not have them.
  • Paneer: Use extra firm or firm tofu in place of paneer.
  • Cream: You can skip cream or use coconut cream. Malai which is the clotted cream that collects on the top of boiled milk can also be added after it has been whipped to a smooth flowing consistency.
  • Without onion and garlic: Add 1 pinch of asafetida or hing (if you have it) as a substitute when sautéing the tomato-cashew paste.

Cooking Notes

  • Dhungar Method: Giving dhungar will make the paneer lababdar have a truly smoky restaurant style flavor.
  • Make ahead and storage: You can easily scale my paneer lababdar recipe. In the freezer, it keeps well for about a month. In the refrigerator, it stays good for a couple of days.
  • Vegan options: Add a neutral tasting oil instead of butter. Replace firm tofu, seitan, tempeh with paneer. Skip adding cream altogether or replace it with coconut cream.

Nutrition Info Approximate values

Nutrition Facts
Paneer Lababdar
Amount Per Serving
Calories 353 Calories from Fat 270
% Daily Value*
Fat 30g46%
Saturated Fat 18g113%
Cholesterol 81mg27%
Sodium 442mg19%
Potassium 205mg6%
Carbohydrates 12g4%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 10g20%
Vitamin A 1021IU20%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin B12 1µg17%
Vitamin C 14mg17%
Vitamin D 1µg7%
Vitamin E 1mg7%
Vitamin K 7µg7%
Calcium 303mg30%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 13µg3%
Iron 1mg6%
Magnesium 23mg6%
Phosphorus 52mg5%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Dassana Amit

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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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229 Comments

  1. I tried this today and it was delicious. Thank you for the recipe. My question is that in some recipe I have seen dry Kashmiri chili added to make the paste. Does adding this change the flavor of the dish and only makes it more spicy? Thank you.

    1. Thanks for the feedback on my recipe and glad to know. Kashmiri chillies will change the taste and flavor of the dish but it will it give a nice red or orange color. The spiciness will depend on how many Kashmiri chillies are added in these recipes.

      1. Thank you for your feedback! Looking forward to trying many more of your recipes. So far I have tried your dal Bukhara and tomato and coconut chutney and all were excellent.

        1. Welcome. Sure, do try more recipes and I hope you like them as well. Thanks for the feedback on the recipes you have made.

  2. Hi Ma’am
    I have tried many of your recipes and they come out really delicious.
    I tried paneer lababdar today. It was too good!
    This is one site which I can trust for every recipe.

    Thank you and much love.5 stars

    1. hi shilpi, thank you very much. it feels good to read your feedback. thanks for the trust.

      hugs and regards
      dassana

  3. Sab recipes aapki main try karti . Aur sab recipes wow and delicious hoti hai
    Thank you so much.5 stars

    1. dhanyawad anju. aapka comment padke achcha laga. most welcome and happy cooking.

  4. The dish turned out to be very tasteful.
    I made it on my husbands demand and he was very happy after having it.
    Thank you so much.5 stars

  5. Hi I really like your recepies. This is my favorite site from where I can follow recipes without any second thought. You deserve all the five stars in a row.

    1. thank you much tanya. felt good to read your comment. it definitely encourages me. thanks again.

    2. Hi mam good morning. Your recipes are really great. My
      Family really loves it when I refer your recipes and do.

      1. Hi Meghana, thank you for sharing your feedback and experience. Glad to read.

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