You know the most famous Indian food in the world? It’s Chicken Tikka Masala, at least that’s what I have read. You talk to anyone in UK, USA even if they wouldn’t know much about Indian food they would definitely know about chicken tikka masala. I think the dish is synonyms with Indian food in the west. But why am I talking about chicken, I am a vegetarian and so this recipe is for paneer tikka masala and not chicken. But chicken lovers can just replace paneer with chicken in this recipe and follow rest of the steps as it is.
There are two parts to this recipe – the paneer tikka and the masala, which is the curry part of it. For making paneer tikka, we marinate the paneer pieces with yogurt and some spices and then pan roast them before putting them in the curry. Onions and tomatoes are cooked and then pureed for the masala. And finally the paneer pieces are added to the masala and served hot.
This particular recipe I saw on TV few years back while watching Masterchef India. I noted down the recipe but never got around making it, not until today. The recipe by Chef Vikas Khanna and Chef Kunal Kapoor was for chicken tikka masala but I made a vegetarian version of it. Also I tweaked the recipe a little based on the availability of ingredients in my kitchen. Like, the recipe called for 1 cup tomato puree + 1 chopped fresh tomato but I didn’t have tomato puree so I used 4 fresh tomatoes in stead.
If you want that bright orange color like the one you get in restaurants, you can add some food color. You can also add 1/2 teaspoon of paprika powder to the curry for a deep red/orange color.
So let’s see how to make this delicious paneer tikka masala.
Cut the paneer into small cubes or in any size you like. My hubby likes eating small paneer pieces so I chop them small : ) . Next add in the chopped ginger, garlic, coriander powder, garam masala powder, paprika powder, salt and red chilli powder. Add in the yogurt and mix till all the paneer pieces are well coated with the spices and yogurt. Cover and keep this marinated paneer in the refrigerator for 30-40 minutes. Ideally you should keep this marinated paneer in the fridge overnight but if that’s not possible than minimum of 30 minutes is must.
Use thick curd or preferably hung curd to marinate the paneer. To make hung curd, tie the curd in a muslin cloth and let it hand for 3-4 hours. Once all the water from the curd has dried out, your hung curd is ready.
So while the paneer pieces are in the refrigerator, we will make the curry for the paneer tikka. Heat 1 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of oil in a pan. Once hot add cinnamon stick and cumin seeds. Once the seeds crackle, add the chopped onions, crushed garlic pods and chopped ginger. Fry till onions turn golden brown in color.
Once onions are done, add the tomatoes and the curry powder and mix. Also add the the salt and sugar. Cook the tomatoes on medium flame till they are soft, around 6-7 minutes. You can use also store bought tomato puree here. Once the mixture is cooked, switch off the flame and allow it to cool a bit. Pour the mixture into a blender and puree it. Set aside.
Take out the marinated paneer and roast it on a pan, you can use little oil or roast as it is. In few minutes, the paneer pieces will turn brown in color, switch off the flame and set them aside.
In another pan pour the purred tomato-onion mixture and add a cup of water. You can adjust the amount of water you want to add here.
Add chopped coriander leaves and cream to the masala and let it cook for 4-5 minutes on medium-low flame. Then add the roasted paneer pieces. Give it a final stir, cover and cook for additional 2-3 minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves and switch off the flame.
Serve hot with butter naan or any bread of your choice.
* Use 1/2 teaspoon paprika powder in the curry for a deep red/orange color. I used paprika powder while marinating the paneer but forgot to add in the curry.
* For a vegan version, you can skip the butter and cream and use tofu in place of paneer.
* The quantity of butter and cream in the recipe depends on your taste and preference. The original recipe had an additional tablespoon of butter which I didn’t add.
* The paneer should ideally by grilled so in case you have a griller use that to make the tikka.
* You can also drizzle around 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice on the curry once it’s done.
* If you want you can strain the pureed mixture before putting it back in the pan. This will just make the curry totally smooth.
Paneer Tikka Masala
- 250 gms paneer
- 3 tablespoons yogurt, preferably hung curd or thick curd
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon paprika powder
- ¼ teaspoon red chili powder, or to taste
- salt, to taste
- 1 big onion, roughly chopped
- 3-4 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
- ½ inch ginger, cut into small pieces
- 1.5 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons cream
- 2 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves, some more to garnish
- 1 cup water or as required
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
- salt, to taste
- Cut the paneer into small cubes, add in the chopped ginger, garlic, coriander powder, garam masala powder, paprika powder, salt and red chilli powder.
- Add in the yogurt and mix till all the paneer pieces are well coated with the spices and yogurt.
- Cover and keep this marinated paneer in the refrigerator for 30-40 minutes.
- Heat 1 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of oil in a pan. Once hot add cinnamon stick and cumin seeds.
- Once the seeds crackle, add the chopped onions, crushed garlic pods and chopped ginger. Fry till onions turn golden brown in color.
- Once onions are done, add the tomatoes and the curry powder and mix. Also add the the salt and sugar.
- Cook the tomatoes on medium flame till they are soft, around 6-7 minutes.
- Once the mixture is cooked, switch off the flame and allow it to cool a bit. Pour the mixture into a blender and puree it. Set aside.
- Roast the marinated paneer till golden brown in color from both sides.
- Pour the pureed masala in a wok/kadhai and add water to it. Stir and add cream and chopped coriander leaves.
- Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes on medium-low flame.
- Add the roasted paneer pieces, let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Switch off the flame and garnish with chopped coriander leaves and cream.
- Serve hot with butter naan or any bread of your choice.
Paneer Tikka Masala