Paneer Makhani

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This simple, easy to make paneer makhani recipe features succulently cooked cottage cheese cubes in a smooth tomato cream sauce that is lightly spiced with a hint of tang and sweetness. Learn how to make this delicious, buttery paneer dish with my easy step-by-step instructions!

paneer makhani recipe

About This Recipe

Paneer Makhani is a delectable, traditional Indian dish made with cubes of cheese cooked in a rich and creamy tomato based sauce.

The word makhani means “buttery,” and is derived from the word makhan which means “homemade butter.” This dish is the vegetarian version of Murgh Makhani, which is commonly known outside of India as “Butter Chicken.”

Butter Chicken was invented by Mr Kundan Lal Gujral in his Moti Mahal Restaurant in Delhi and has since become one of the most beloved Indian dishes across the globe. Turning the original recipe into one suitable for vegetarians by swapping in paneer, mushrooms or lentils is very common practice.

This creamy, tangy homestyle gravy is made mostly with tomatoes, cream and spices. While very similar to my Paneer Butter Masala and Paneer Makhanwala, this tasty recipe has a slightly different proportion of spices. I also believe that a traditional makhani gravy should be made without onions, which is how I make mine.

I should also note that in this recipe, I have avoided the use of cashew paste. While makhani gravies often include cashew paste (which gives these gravies a lovely consistency), I have received many requests to make traditional Punjab dishes without using expensive ingredients. This paneer makhani recipe is a result of those requests!

The recipe is easy enough to make on a weeknight and tasty enough to be made for a small party or get together. You can opt to use ready-made tomato purée and paneer to shorten the cook time. (That said, I always prefer to make paneer at home.)

Now let’s get cooking, shall we??

Step-by-Step Guide

How to Make Paneer Makhani

Preparation

1. First rinse and chop the tomatoes (250 grams or 4-5 medium ripe red tomatoes).

tomatoes on a white cutting board after being diced for making paneer makhani recipe

2. In a blender or grinder make a smooth puree of the chopped tomatoes. No need to add any water while blending the tomatoes.

TIP: To make this easy dish even faster, simply use store bought tomato purée. But try to buy tomato puree without preservatives or make your own tomato puree.

tomato puree in spice grinder

3. In a mortar-pestle, crush the ginger & garlic to a paste (1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste, or ½ inch ginger + 3-4 small garlic cloves).

ginger garlic paste in a silver mortar and pestle for paneer makhani recipe

Make Makhani Gravy

4. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a pan. Add 1 tej patta (Indian bay leaf) and then the crushed ginger-garlic. Sauté for some seconds or till the raw aroma of the crushed ginger-garlic goes away.

pan frying ginger garlic paste in oil with tej petta

5. Add the prepared tomato purée.

tomato purée added to aromatics for making paneer makhani gravy recipe

6. Stir well and add ½ tsp red chili powder (or cayenne pepper or paprika). Keep on sautéing till the fat leaves the sides of the tomato paste.

paneer makhani masala with chili spices added

7. Meanwhile chop 200 grams cottage cheese into bitesized cubes, squares or triangles.

paneer cubes in a bowl

8. After 15 minutes on a low flame, the tomatoes and spices have sautéed well and the fat leaving the sides of the mixture is clearly seen. The masala will look glossy, will leave the sides of the pan and will come together.

paneer makhani tomato-ginger masala paste in pan

9. Now add 1.5 cups water.

water added to makhani gravy paste

10. Stir very well and let the gravy/sauce come to a gentle simmer.

makhani gravy after adding water

11. Simmer the gravy till it reduces and thickens a bit.

preparing paneer makhani recipe by reducing gravy prior to adding cream

12. Add ½ to 1 inch ginger julienne and 1 to 2 slivered green chilies. Simmer for a minute.

adding ginger and chilis to makhani gravy

Assemble

13. Stir and then add salt as required, ½ teaspoon crushed kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves) and ½ to 1 teaspoon sugar. Also add the paneer cubes. Mix gently and switch off the heat.

No need to cook the paneer cubes as sometimes they become hard or chewy even after cooking for 1 to 2 minutes.

paneer cubes added to makhani gravy recipe

14. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons cream. NOTE: I used Indian brand of amul cream, but any will do with 25 to 35% fat.

You can reduce the proportion of cream if you want.

cream being added to paneer makhani recipe

15. Stir gently but thoroughly, so that the cream is mixed uniformly with the gravy without breaking the paneer cubes. Switch off the flame.

NOTE: Some of my paneer cubes broke while stirring because I used homemade paneer whose milk I cooked for too long. Oh, well! If a few of your paneer cubes break, rest assured that it will still taste absolutely delicious.

simmering makhani sauce with cubes of paneer

16. Lastly sprinkle ¼ teaspoon garam masala and again stir gently. Check the seasonings and add more salt or sugar if required.

garam masala added to paneer makhani in pan

18. Serve paneer makhani hot with roti, paratha or naan, or with steamed rice or jeera rice if you’re avoiding gluten. Enjoy!

overhead shot of paneer makhani in a white bowl with a silver spoon and grey and white napkin

Tips + FAQs

How should I serve paneer makhani?

I happen to believe that paneer makhani is best served with roti, paratha or with naan. I served with naan and a side veggie salad. You can also serve paneer makhani with jeera rice or steamed basmati rice if you’re avoiding gluten.

Is paneer makhani nut free?

While many recipes of paneer makhani use cashew paste in the gravy, mine does not. I use cream instead, making this a safe recipe for nut allergies!

What can I substitute for the cream?

For this recipe, I used amul (low fat) cream that is a light cream. Heavy cream or double cream can also be used. If you have neither on hand, you can opt to use curd, or swap in ½ to 1 tablespoon milk powder to replicate some of the creaminess.

Just be sure to taste as you add milk powder – it can sometimes make the gravy overly sweet. I also caution against adding milk as it can curdle from the acidity of the tomatoes.

Can I make a vegan version of this recipe?

Paneer can be swapped for firm tofu and you can use coconut cream in place of the dairy cream. Just note that the flavor will be a bit affected.

Want more Paneer Recipes?

Check out some of my other favorites:

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paneer makhani recipe

Paneer Makhani

Paneer makhani is succulently cooked cottage cheese cubes in a smooth sauce of tomatoes and cream, which is lightly spiced with a hint of tang and sweetness.
4.83 from 46 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Cuisine North Indian
Course Main Course
Diet Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Difficulty Level Moderate
Servings 3
Units

Ingredients

  • 200 grams Paneer (Indian cottage cheese)
  • 250 grams tomatoes or 4 to 5 medium-sized
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons light cream (low fat 25%) or whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons Butter
  • 1 tej patta (Indian bay leaf)
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger Garlic Paste or ½ inch ginger + 3 to 4 small garlic crushed to paste in a mortar
  • ½ teaspoon red chilli powder or kashmiri red chilli powder or cayenne pepper or paprika
  • 1 to 2 green chillies slit or sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon Garam Masala or tandoori masala powder
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon sugar – add as required* check notes
  • ½ to 1 inch ginger – julienned
  • ½ teaspoon dry fenugreek leaves – kasuri methi, crushed
  • 1.5 cups water
  • salt as required

Instructions
 

Making tomato puree

  • First rinse and chop the tomatoes. Use the tomatoes that are ripe with a sweet tangy taste and not overly sour.
  • In a blender or grinder make a smooth puree of the chopped tomatoes. No need to add any water while blending the tomatoes.
  • Keep the tomato puree aside.

Making paneer makhani

  • Melt butter in a pan. First add the tej patta (Indian bay leaf) and saute for a few seconds till aromatic.
  • Then add the crushed ginger-garlic paste and saute for a few seconds or till the raw aroma of the ginger-garlic goes away.
  • Add the tomato puree and stir well.
  • Now add the red chili powder and saute this mixture till the fat begins to leave the side of the tomato paste. Takes about 14 to 15 on a low heat. Keep on stirring often.
  • When you see the tomato mixture clumping together and the fat leaving the sides, then add water.
  • Stir and simmer till the gravy or sauce thickens a bit. Takes about 7 to 8 minutes on a low flame.
  • Then add the slit green chilies and ginger julienne. Stir and simmer for a minute.
  • Add sugar, salt as required and crushed kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves).
  • Stir and then add the paneer cubes. 
  • Mix gently and switch off the heat. No need to cook the paneer as then they can get hard or chewy and won't taste good.
  • Lastly add cream and gently stir. Switch off the flame and then sprinkle with garam masala. Give a gentle stir again.
  • Serve the paneer makhani with roti, naan, paratha or jeera rice or saffron rice or biryani rice or plain steamed basmati rice.

Notes

  • * Addition of sugar depends upon your taste as well as the tanginess present in the tomatoes. Add more if required.
  • The recipe can be doubled or tripled.
  • Use tomatoes that are not sour. The tomatoes should be fresh, ripe and with a slightly sweet taste.
  • You can use whipping cream or heavy cream in place of light cream. But add as needed according to your taste preferences.

Nutrition Info (Approximate values)

Nutrition Facts
Paneer Makhani
Amount Per Serving
Calories 314 Calories from Fat 252
% Daily Value*
Fat 28g43%
Saturated Fat 17g106%
Trans Fat 1g
Cholesterol 75mg25%
Sodium 475mg21%
Potassium 221mg6%
Carbohydrates 7g2%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 10g20%
Vitamin A 1130IU23%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin B12 1µg17%
Vitamin C 13mg16%
Vitamin D 1µg7%
Vitamin E 1mg7%
Vitamin K 8µg8%
Calcium 343mg34%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 13µg3%
Iron 1mg6%
Magnesium 12mg3%
Phosphorus 30mg3%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Paneer Makhani Recipe from the blog archives (March 2014) has been republished and updated on 29 May 2021.

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Meet Dassana

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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124 Comments

  1. Tried exactly like you had mentioned and it was JUST AMAZING!! Thank you for this wonderful recipe!5 stars

    1. Great to know Aditi and thank you for this super feedback and the rating.

  2. I like to make vegetarian Indian meals for our friends. This dish is always the star of the show. It is easy to make and so tasty.

  3. Absolutely delicious! I highly recommend, and very easy to prepare. Excellent recipe 🙂5 stars

  4. Dassana thank you so much. Tried this recipe today and it turned out to be delicious. The best part is the ease in the process of making it. All the ingredients are easily available and your pictures helped me to gauge that i don’t go wrong.5 stars

  5. Dassana

    Can i keep tomato-ginger-garlic paste in the freezer and use for recipes that ask for little or no onion?

    Thanks
    Sharmila

    1. avoid tomato. just make ginger-garlic paste. tomatoes can spoil. any paste or puree made with tomatoes stays good for a few days only. if preservatives are added, then these can be preserved for months too. for ginger-garlic paste, you can add some oil, a bit of salt and some turmeric, to preserve it for more than a month. you can check the post on ginger-garlic paste, i have already shared on website.

      1. Thanks so much Dassana!! I read somewhere that onion-tomato paste (which will have ginger-garlic too) can be kept in the freezer. I understand now i cannot do this either?? 🙁 What do you recommend? I am a working mother, so need some things readily available so cooking gets done in a jiffy

        1. sharmila, for onion paste, you can fry onions in bulk. make a paste and refrigerate. in any dish, when you add this paste, it tastes good. for ease of frying onions, what you do is thinly slice the onions. then sundry it for a few hours. then fry it. this way the onions will get browned quickly. avoid tomato paste or tomato puree. preservatives have to be added in these for a longer shelf time. for coconut, you can grate 1 coconut in your free time and then freeze it. you can also make onion-tomato gravy paste. just brown onions, tomato, ginger, garlic in some oil and then grind it. this can then be freezer in ice cube tray and you can use whenever you want. i somehow forgot to mention this to you.

          hope this helps.

  6. Hi,will try this paneer recipe today as my son loves paneer but is allergic to cashews.. Was looking for a paneer recipe without cashews..4 stars

  7. Beautiful. Absolutely delicious. Thank you so much for sharing this and so many other recipes. You make cooking so much easier and something to look forward to instead of something that I used to run away from.

  8. Dear Dassana
    Am a great fan of yours and have been following you after making your atta bread . But my query today is another tough one . We have just found that my husband is allergic to tomatoes , milk and milk products and a couple of other things . My problem is how to substitute tomatoes in our punjabi curries also in rajmah etc . Any suggestions please . If I use mango powder how will I get the right colour and the taste would also go for a toss . Help please .
    Renu

    1. renu, difficult as usually curd is used instead of tomatoes. so here you cannot even use curd. there is no substitute as such for tomatoes. to give volume in the gravy, you can add onion paste. even onion based gravies taste good. but you need to saute the onion paste till its golden. then you can add a bit of amchur powder for sourness. even with fried onion paste (where sliced onions are fried till golden brown and then made into a paste) any gravy tastes good. a totally different option is to add grated coconut paste or coconut milk like its done in the konkan, goan and south indian cuisine. even rajma in a coconut based paste or coconut milk tastes good. hope this helps.

  9. Thank you so much for the recipe! 🙂 I have never cooked a paneer dish before, infact I hardly cook 😀 Your recipe turned out amazing and everyone just loved it !! 🙂5 stars

    1. welcome swathi 🙂 thanks for positive views. glad your family liked the paneer makhani recipe.

  10. Thanks so much for sharing this nut free recipe. My daughter loves paneer but can’t eat the usual butter masala recipes as she is allergic to cashew nuts. This has been very well received! I regularly try your recipes, with much success, as being a British born Bengali, I like to try dishes from different regions and need help cooking authentic Indian recipes. Keep up the good work!

    1. very pleased to know this. thanks shanta for your good wishes and positive views, god bless you.

  11. Hey!
    I can’t thank you enough for the recipe. Paneer is my husband’s favourite but I am not a pro at cooking. I simply followed your recipe and it turned out absolutely brilliant. Very similar to the restaurant quality we get in Delhi. Being a north Indian, I can vouch that it tastes very authentic.
    Would have loved to upload a pic but don’t know how.

    1. thank you nidhi. glad to know. also thanks for the feedback on the paneer makhani recipe. i used to share pics on fb first, but stopped now due to lack of time. if you want you can send me the pics at vegrecipesofindia@gmail.com

  12. Lovely dish dear. My family polished off in minutes ? !! Keep posting such wonderful dishes..4 stars

  13. Awesome easy n wonderful recipe…my family loved it…:) A big thank you…5 stars

    1. welcome saloni, glad your family loved the paneer makhani recipe. thanks for positive feedback.

  14. Hey Dassana, I’m a big fan of your
    recipes.
    Thanks a lot!!
    i have no cream …. so what should I add to skip cream….

    1. thanks. you can add milk powder, just add 1/2 to 1 tablespoon as milk powder can sweeten the gravy too much.

  15. I don’t generally leave behind comments on blogs. Just get the info I want and dash off. But this was too good to not let you know and appreciate. It was super simple and my daughters really loved it. Thank you Dassana for the wonderful veg recipes.

  16. I tried it last week and it was really good….I kinda of reduced the sauce a little too much, but it ended up being really good anyways….Next time I make it I will triple the recipe:D…..Thank you so much for the recipe:D5 stars

    1. jill, you can add them. it will taste good. however taste varies from person to person.

      1. Thank you. I finally made it . I only added half an onion. It was excellent. Got polished off 🙂
        I did do one more thing I would like to share- I soaked the paneer in hot water for 5 minutes and drained. It was soft and nicer. This trick works when paneer was bought few days ago and is in the fridge.
        Thank you for the easy recipe.5 stars

        1. thankyou jill for your tips and kind words and you are always welcome 🙂

  17. I tried this recipe today and it turned out amazing, thank you for all your recipes.

  18. THANKS for the wonderful step by step instructions with pictures!! I can’t wait to get brave enough to try this!!!! I have been wanting to for quite some time and I am no cook!!! So the fact that you were able to inspire me to want to cook is even more amazing!!

    1. very pleased to know this dacelle all the best in your cooking endeavors glad you were inspired by our blog. thankyou for your kind gesture and encouraging words.

  19. Loved this recipe.made this for dinner yesterday.the step by step pictures r a great help.thankyou so much for the wonderful blog.

    1. pleased to know this sowmia thankyou for your kind words wish you a happy holi and you are welcome.

  20. Thank you so much for your sweet recipes, everyone in my family loves it.. U are so awesome.. Keep up your work…I love the way u cook..so simple but taste fabulous.5 stars

    1. pleased to know this ramya 🙂 thankyou for your kind and positive words god bless you.

  21. Great recipe! I have made it several times. Fabulous, always impresses my guests.

  22. This is a super easy , super delicious recipe …made it tonight …it was so good . Less ingredients and good taste .

  23. Hi,

    I’ve been following your blog and pretty much learned cooking from it. Thank you!
    Can I substitute the cream with anything else? Like yogurt or cashew paste?

    I saw suggestion of milk in a comment but I almost always curdle it. I would love to use yogurt if possible as I always have it and is healthy!4 stars

    1. welcome keya. yogurt will give a slight sour taste. you can use milk powder/dairy whitener or you can use cashew paste.

  24. can i use store bought tomato puree in instead of fresh tomato, will the taste vary a lot.

    1. there will be some difference in the taste. you can use ready made tomato puree.

  25. Hi, it was yummy as always!… 🙂
    please tel me what to add instead of cream. As low fat amul cream we buy is 200 ml and has to be consumed within 2 days. So, lots of cream is wasted.

    So what other options do we have which are:
    healthier, tastier and can b easily prepared at home.

    Also how to reduce the tanginess due to tomato?5 stars

    1. thanks ravi. cream is required. you can use left over cream to make mousse. you can use milk instead of cream but it can curdle. add sugar to reduce the tanginess or add more cream.

  26. This recipe was so good! I cooked it tonight for my husband and he was very happy. Thank you for posting it!5 stars

  27. Hi Dassana, tried this today…..turned out awesome!!! The step by step helped much……I am hooked 🙂 thanks heaps, dhanya.

  28. Hi Dassana,

    I tried your receipe.. It came out beautiful… Really yummy.. I tried cooking Paneed Makhani for the first time.. I am really glad that i tried your receipe.. Also you have written it in a very easy way with pictures. Great jobs.. Keep up the good work…Thanks for sharing..

    Rajni5 stars

    1. thanks rajni for sharing positive feedback on paneer makhani recipe and its presentation. do try some more recipes.

  29. Thank you for the wonderful recipe, I have made it twice now, and both times it turned out delicious. We do not have any Indian restaurants where I live, and have been missing the food terribley, this has been such a delight.5 stars

    1. welcome opal. glad to know that you liked the recipe. do try some more recipes.

  30. Hi dassana
    I made this paneer makhani first time and it turn out very good. Tough the taste was a bit saucy (i think thats because of tomatoes) but not as good as paneer butter masala.
    I made paneer at home using full cream milk. The paneer was soft, fresh & awesome.
    Thank you your amazing website.
    I’ve messaged u a pic of this on facebook.

    1. thanks gurpal. got the pic on fb. the gravy is less thicker than paneer butter masala due as no cashew paste is added. but otherwise the gravy has a good taste.

  31. Thank u so much for this wonderful recipe the pictures made it so easy to understand and make this yummy dish …. Thanks a lot.5 stars

  32. Yum! Will definitely be making this again. Having very clear written instructions and photos to go by made the “making” so easy!5 stars

  33. Hey Hello

    I have tried your recipe …very easy and tasty too..everyone loved it ….will try out your recipes one by one. Your pic illustration is really good. Thanks and keep going .

    Best Rgds
    Shanza4 stars

  34. Hi dassana,

    Tried and tested ! 5 stars once again
    Thank you.

    I omitted the cream and used soaked kajus to make it creamy like some of your other recipes.

    Regards5 stars

  35. I love your receipes. They are easy to prepare. I made this Paneer and turned out so delicious.

    Thank you.5 stars

  36. Mine turned out very watery, the cream didn’t seem to mix with the sauce, what type of cream do you suggest?

    1. i added cream which is 25% low fat. basically light cream having. 20% to 35% fat will also be fine.

  37. Wonderful recipe. Thanks Dassana. I tried this with tofu instead of paneer and everyone loved it.

  38. Tried it when guests came over. They loved it and my family loved it too. Excellent and easy recipe. I am little lazy in cooking so i look for easy and tasty recipes and this worked for me .Thank u so much and keep it up.5 stars

  39. I followed diligently this recipe (had the tablet in the kitchen!) and at every stage it looked almost identical to your picture! It was delicious. I also made the naan without yeast. Oddly while it didn’t quite look like yours I was pleasantly surprised when it tasted quite good.

    Great work here; many thanks. Now I am here to stay, 🙂

    Anitha5 stars

    1. welcome anitha. nice to read that you followed the recipe and it came out delicious.

  40. Really like this recipe..I live in Spain and cannot get Fenugreek/Kasuri methi without trying outside Spain…Please is there a substitute we can use..Thank you and keep up the good work

    1. you can also use fenugreek seeds powder if its available. just a pinch would be fine. otherwise just skip the fenugreek leaves.

      1. Brilliant recipe..we followed really well but used extra ginger and more chilli as we have a serious addiction to these spices..Keep up the good work and i,m going to look into next cooking mission on you great website

        1. thanks pedro. more ginger and more chilies must have nicely spiced up the paneer makhani 🙂

  41. Hi,

    made this over the weekend and loved it. Just omitted adding sugar as I love the natural tanginess of the tomatoes.
    Thanks Dassana4 stars

  42. Tried it today came out nice….didn’t have cream….but I so badly wanted to make it that I added a tsp of veg mayo…ha ha

  43. whatever u cook with paneer would be delicious.Surely i will give a try .

    1. Amita mai ye jaanna chahti hu ki hame apni dish mai tomato ki kaun si variety use krni chahiye.ye desi hone chahiye ya bombay wala tamatr. Mai bohot confuse rehti hu, mere husband ko sbji ka sour taste bilkul psnd nhi or bombay wala tomato delhi mai bolte hain ki salad ke liye use hota hai. Plz reply me soon. Gud job.

      1. tripti, aap ju tamatar use/prayog karen recipe main, woh khatte/sour nahi hone chayiyee. tamatar main thoda sa mithas/sweetness hona chahiyee. aap mumbai ke tamatar use/prayog kar sakte hain. khatte/sour tamatar se gravy khatti hu jati hain aur aacha sawad/taste nahi aata. es liye un ke prayog na karen.

        1. OMG!!!! Amazing recipe…..it tasted totally dhabba like…..Fantastic…. I even tried your chole recipe some time back…awesome!!!!… I am now going to make chicken in the same way as the paneer recipe…
          Thank you sooooo much.5 stars

        2. welcome ashwini. glad to know that you liked the recipes. do try some more recipes.

        3. Hey yesterday was the first time I cooked a sabzi. It was delicious, but the gravy amount was little as compared to paneer. How do I increase the gravy amount?? Just more tomatoes is it??5 stars