Made with an aromatic and creamy tomato cashew base, this Paneer Curry recipe is a dinnertime delight! Unlike my Paneer Butter Masala, this sauce or curry base includes spicy green chili and sweet onions for a paneer masala you’re sure to love.
About Paneer Curry
While there are many delicious Indian Paneer Curries made with cottage cheese, this paneer masala recipe is one of my favorites. The addition of onion paste and the special spice blend make this curry recipe quite different from others I have posted on the blog.
You may have encountered a similar style of paneer curry in Indian restaurants; sometimes you’ll see it made with potatoes and peas in addition to paneer.
Whenever I make recipes that feature paneer, I make my own version of the beloved Indian cottage cheese at home; I’d choose Homemade Paneer over store bought every time!
Instead of paneer and cream, you can also use tofu and coconut cream to make this vegan. Just note that the coconut cream will leave a faint coconut flavor that isn’t present in the original.
If tomatoes are not in season, opt to use canned whole tomatoes instead. You do not want to use sour tomatoes, and canned are always picked at peak freshness. You can also substitute cherry tomatoes, which can be grown in greenhouses year round and will often taste better than other out of season varieties.
Paneer curry is best served with chapati, paratha or naan. You can also serve this cottage cheese curry with plain rice, cumin rice, ghee Rice or biryani rice.
How to make Paneer Curry
1. First, soak 12 to 15 cashews in hot water for 20 to 30 minutes.
2. When the cashews are soaking, roughly chop 2 large tomatoes, 1 large onion, 1 inch ginger and 6 to 7 small to medium garlic cloves. Crush the ginger and garlic to a paste in mortar-pestle.
3. Add the chopped onions to a blender or grinder jar.
4. Without adding any water, grind or blend to a smooth and fine paste. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
5. To the same grinder jar (no need to wash it), add chopped tomatoes and soaked cashews.
6. Again without adding any water, grind or blend tomatoes and cashews to a fine smooth paste. Keep the jar aside.
Make Masala For Paneer Curry
7. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a thick bottomed pan or kadai. Add the onion paste.
8. Sauté the onion paste over a low to medium-low heat, stirring often. Be careful while adding onion paste as it splutters.
9. Sauté till the onion paste begins to caramelize and become golden.
10. Add the crushed ginger-garlic paste. If using ready ginger-garlic paste, then add 1 teaspoon of it.
11. Stir and sauté for few seconds or till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away.
12. Now add the tomato-cashew paste. Be careful as the mixture can splutter.
13. Mix everything very well and begin to sauté the masala on a low heat.
14. While the masala is cooking, add 1.5 cups of water to the grinder or blender jar. Swirl the jar so that the tomato paste at the sides and at the bottom gets mixed with the water. Keep aside.
15. Continue sautéing and stirring the onion-tomato-cashew masala till you see some fat releasing from the sides and the sauce becomes glossy.
Make Paneer Curry
16. Then add the following ground spices:
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon red chilli powder or cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
17. Stir and mix in the spice powders very well.
18. Add 1 or 2 slit green chilies.
19. Add the water which you mixed with the leftover tomato+cashew paste from the grinder or blender jar.
20. Season with salt as required.
21. Add 1 tablespoon of chopped coriander leaves.
22. On a low to medium heat, simmer the gravy till it thickens a bit and you see oil specks on top.
23. Then add 200 grams paneer that has been cut into cubes or squares. Preferably use homemade soft paneer.
24. Add ½ teaspoon of crushed kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves). Mix well and switch off the heat.
25. Add 2 tablespoons low fat cream or light cream or 1 tablespoon whipping cream.
26. Mix in the cream until well incorporated. Switch off the heat. Taste the cottage cheese curry, adding more salt if required.
You can also add ¼ to ½ teaspoon sugar at this step if it tastes too tangy from the tomatoes, being sure to mix it in very well.
27. Serve paneer curry garnished with chopped coriander leaves accompanied with chapati, paratha, naan or tandoori roti or steamed rice or cumin rice.
Try adding in a small amount of sugar to balance out the acidity from the tomatoes. ¼ to ½ teaspoon should do.
I don’t suggest it, as both will lend a sour, tangy taste to the curry that would be out of place. Use either low fat cream or regular whipping cream with 35%+ milk fat for best results.
You can also opt to use milk powder, though this will lend a sweetness to the curry. Use discretion as you add it to ensure the curry doesn’t become too cloying; just note that the taste will not be the same as if you used cream.
Finally, you can opt to use khoya, mawa, cashew or almond paste.
Sure! Simply swap firm or extra firm tofu for the paneer and use cashew or almond paste or coconut cream instead of the low fat cream.
If you want a thicker paneer masala curry, try adding cashew or almond paste, or a few spoonfuls of cooked and mashed potatoes. Gram flour (besan) or makki ka atta (maize flour) can be also be added. Note that the adding these ingredients will bring a change to the taste and flavor of the paneer curry.
You can also let it continue cooking with the lid off to evaporate some of the excess moisture, with no major changes to the flavor profile. But don’t cook after adding paneer as then it will become hard or chewy.
Why, homemade of course! Try my garam masala powder recipe.
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Paneer Curry (Indian Cottage Cheese Curry)
For onion paste
- 105 grams onion or 1 large onion – roughly chopped
For cashew paste
- 175 grams tomato or 2 large tomatoes – roughly chopped
- 27 grams cashew or 12 to 15 cashews – soaked in ½ cup hot water
For ginger-garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon Ginger-Garlic Paste or 4 grams ginger or 1 inch ginger – roughly chopped + 4 grams garlic or 6 to 7 small to medium garlic cloves, roughly chopped – crushed to a paste in mortar-pestle
- 200 grams Paneer (Indian cottage cheese) – cut in cubes or squares
- 3 tablespoons oil
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon red chilli powder or add as per taste
- ½ teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
- 2 green chilies, slit
- 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves
- salt as required
- 1.5 cups water or add as required
- ½ teaspoon kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
- 2 tablespoon light cream or low fat cream or 1 tablespoon whipping cream
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon sugar (optional)
- 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves – for garnish
- First soak 12 to 15 cashews in hot water for 20 to 30 minutes.
- When the cashews are soaking, roughly chop 2 large tomatoes, 1 large onion, 1 inch ginger and 6 to 7 small to medium garlic cloves. Crush the ginger and garlic to a paste in mortar-pestle.
- In a blender jar or grinder jar, take the chopped onions. Without adding any water grind or blend to a smooth paste.
- Remove the onion paste in a bowl and keep aside.
- To the same grinder jar, add chopped tomatoes. Also add the soaked cashews.
- Again without adding any water, grind or blend both tomatoes and cashews to a smooth paste. Keep the jar aside.
- Heat tablespoons oil in a thick bottomed pan or kadai.
- Add the onion paste.
- On a low heat begin to sauté the onion paste. Keep on stirring often while sautéing the onion paste. Sauté till the onion paste becomes light golden or golden.
- Then add the crushed ginger-garlic paste. If using ready ginger-garlic paste, then add 1 teaspoon of it.
- Stir and saute for a few seconds or till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away.
- Now add the tomato+cashew paste. Be careful as the mixture can splutter.
- Mix everything very well and begin to saute the masala on a low flame.
- While the masala is getting sauteed, add 1.5 cups water in the grinder jar. Swirl the jar so that the tomato paste at the sides and at the bottom get mixed with the water. If you want you can even run the mixer once, so that everything gets mixed well. Keep aside.
- Saute the onion-tomato masala till you see some fat releasing from the sides. The masala will also become glossy.
Making paneer curry
- Then add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder and garam masala powder.
- Stir and mix the spice powders very well.
- Add 1 or 2 slit green chilies.
- Add the water which was mixed with the leftover tomato+cashew paste in grinder jar.
- Season with salt as required. Also add 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves.
- On a low to medium heat, simmer the cottage cheese curry till it thickens a bit and you see oil specks on top.
- Then add paneer cubes.
- Add ½ teaspoon kasuri methi, which has been crushed. Mix well and switch off the heat.
- Then add 2 tablespoons low fat cream or light cream or 1 tablespoon of whipping cream.
- Mix the cream very well with the rest of the cottage cheese curry. Switch off the heat.
- Serve paneer curry garnished with some coriander leaves accompanied with chapati, paratha, naan or steamed rice or cumin rice or saffron rice.
- You can add less or more of the spice powders, depending on your requirements.
- Less or more water can be added, depending on the gravy consistency you want. This recipe yields a medium consistency gravy.
- Cream can be skipped.
- To make vegan paneer curry, use tofu in place of paneer. Also use coconut cream or cashew cream or almond paste instead of low fat cream.
- Use tomatoes that are ripe with a sweet taste. Don’t use tomatoes that are very tangy or too sour. In case the gravy becomes sour then add ¼ to ½ sugar or more as needed.
Nutrition Info (Approximate values)
This Paneer Curry post from the archives (September 2016) has been updated and republished on 18 October 2021.