Learn how to make your favorite take-out curry – Restaurant-style Paneer Butter Masala or Paneer Makhani at home in less than 40 minutes!
Restaurant style Paneer Makhani consists of Paneer (cottage cheese cubes) cooked in a buttery, rich and creamy tomato-cashew sauce. In this recipe, Makhani refers to the smooth and silky curry as well as the generous amount of butter used in the recipe.
Also, known as Paneer Makhanwala or Paneer Butter Masala, this north Indian dish is one of the most popular dishes in Indian restaurants and rightfully so as it is extremely flavorful and well balanced as far as the spices are concerned. It goes best with hot rotis or naan as well as jeera rice.
Here are some frequently asked questions about this dish. Hope this helps!
Can I skip the honey? Hmm, yes and no. You can skip the honey but you will need to substitute it with sugar. A lot of tomatoes are used in this dish and you need something sweet to counteract the sourness of the tomatoes. Also, pick ripe tomatoes for this dish, they tend to be a little less sour.
Can I substitute cream with milk? Sure! Make sure it is whole milk and also, add it once you have taken the gravy off the heat or else the milk will curdle.
What if I don’t have Kasoori methi or dried fenugreek leaves? Kasoori methi is very aromatic and is used as a flavor enhancer in this dish, but if you don’t have it, it is okay to skip it. I don’t think there is a good substitution. Note: If using dried fenugreek leaves, roast it for a few seconds before adding it to the dish to get the best results. Also, use in moderation – like all dried versions of herbs, the flavor is very strong even in small quantities.
Why should I sieve the gravy? To give this Paneer gravy a smooth texture. I use the soup setting in my Blendtec Blender and that usually grinds the puree to a very fine paste and I don’t have to sieve it. If you are not using a high-performance blender, please do sieve the gravy, if the texture matters to you.
How is Paneer tikka masala different? In a Paneer tikka masala recipe, the paneer cubes are marinated and grilled before being added to a spicy tomato-onion gravy. The recipe would be much like this Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe.
Can this gravy be used as a base for Butter Chicken? Absolutely! Saute the chicken in butter till it is almost fully cooked and then add it to this gravy. Simmer the gravy for 10-15 minutes and your Butter chicken is ready.
Are there other names for this Paneer Butter Masala recipe? Other than Paneer Makhani or Makhanwala, you will also find this dish mentioned in restaurant menus as Shahi Paneer or Butter Paneer.
Note: If you are in a restaurant and you notice that the menu lists Shahi Paneer and Butter Paneer (or any of the other names listed above) as two separate menu items, make sure to ask the server the difference between the two, if it is not stated in the menu explicitly. My hunch is that they will say one dish (most likely Shahi Paneer) uses cashew in the gravy and the other one doesn’t. I would assume they would do this so they can cater to an audience who would like a nut-free Paneer gravy.
Read this before you start – The cottage cheese or Paneer should be soft and spongy. If it is not, microwave it for 30 seconds at first and then in 10-second increments till they soften. It is no fun if your Paneer is not soft enough to melt in your mouth at your first bite. I usually use store-bought Paneer and the Haldiram brand has worked well for me.
Any other questions? Leave me a comment below and I would be happy to answer them.
If you love Paneer, check out this Palak Paneer recipe which is made by simmering Paneer in a spinach gravy sauce.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1- inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
- 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced to a fine paste
- 1 cup finely chopped onions
- salt to taste
- 4 cups finely chopped tomatoes
- 1/4 cup unsalted cashews
- 500 g 18 oz paneer or cottage cheese diced into cubes
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder, finely ground
- 1-2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/4 -1/2 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste
- 1/4 cup whole milk or heavy cream, optional
- 1/2 teaspoon dried and roasted fenugreek leaves, kasoori methi for garnishing
- Heat a wok or kadhai on medium heat and add butter. Once the butter melts, add onions and fry them till they are translucent and soft.
- Add crushed ginger and garlic. Fry them along with the onions for 30 seconds or so and then add cashews and tomatoes. Continue cooking the gravy till the tomatoes turn soft and mushy. Take it off heat and let this gravy cool for at least 10-15 minutes.
- Once it has cooled down, grind them to a fine puree. For a smooth and silky texture, pass this puree through a sieve. [Note: I used the soup setting on my Blendtec Blender and I didn't have to sieve it]
- Add the sieved puree to the wok or kadhai and add water as needed to get the consistency you desire. Bring this mixture to boil. Do a taste check and add more salt (if needed).
- Add honey, cardamom powder,chilli powder and garam masala to this gravy and mix well. Gently fold in the cut paneer pieces. Let the gravy simmer for 5-10 minutes. Switch off heat and add 1/4 cup whole milk or cream to give it a creamy texture.
- Powder the kasoori methi by rubbing it between your fingers. Garnish the gravy with kasoori methi and mix well before serving.
- Serve hot with rotis or naan.
Disclaimer: Approximate Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.
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