Paneer Tikka Masala

Paneer Tikka Masala is a popular Indian curry where marinated pieces of paneer are simmered in a tomato based creamy curry. This dish goes extremely well with naan or paratha!

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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.

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How to Make Paneer Tikka Masala

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.

For the masala, onions and tomatoes are cooked and then pureed.

The paneer pieces are finally added to the masala and served hot! This Paneer Tikka Masala is so creamy & so good!

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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.

Tip: 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.

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Method

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.

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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 until the onions turn golden brown in color.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Serve hot with butter naan or any bread of your choice.

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Paneer Tikka Masala

Manali
Paneer Tikka Masala - Spiced paneer (Indian cottage cheese) tikka in onion and tomato based curry.
4.95 from 19 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 17 mins
Total Time 47 mins
Course Entree
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories 325 kcal

Ingredients
  

Paneer Tikka

  • 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

Masala/Curry

  • 1 large onion roughly chopped
  • 3-4 medium tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3-4 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1/2 inch ginger cut into small pieces
  • 1.5 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 2 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves and some more to garnish
  • 1 cup water or as required
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • salt to taste

Instructions
 

Paneer Tikka

  • 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.

Masala/Curry

  • 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.

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. For a vegan version, you can skip the butter and cream and use tofu in place of paneer.
  3. 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.
  4. The paneer should ideally by grilled so in case you have a griller use that to make the tikka.
  5. You can also drizzle around 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice on the curry once it's done.
  6. If you want, you can strain the pureed mixture before putting it back in the pan. This will just make the curry totally smooth.

Nutrition

Calories: 325kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 11gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 61mgSodium: 63mgPotassium: 302mgFiber: 2gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 1155IUVitamin C: 15.8mgCalcium: 355mgIron: 0.8mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @cookwithmanali or tag #cookwithmanali!

 Paneer Tikka Masala

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83 thoughts on “Paneer Tikka Masala

  1. Hi manali..whan can i use instead of tomatoes or tomato puree..coz tomatoes are restricted to my husband…can i use dry mango powder instead..

  2. It was really delicious. However I did use the puree and 1 can of chopped tomatoes. Also–what do you mean by “roast” the paneer? I ended up doing it in a frying pan and it did turn out fine but perhaps there is a better method?? Thanks for a great recipe.

  3. I am a novice in the kitchen. You made this look easy with your instructions – gave it a try and it worked out great! Thank you.

  4. I used Tofu instead of Paneer and guess what it turned out awesome! My family loved it especially my girls who are 5 and 2.5 years, so yes a definite thumbs up to to your recipe.
    Bless You!

      1. what do you use to blend all your spices and onions/tomatoes, etc to make it so smooth? Do you have a particular blender that you use? My kitchen appliances always leave chunks of ginger or whatever I’m blended and never as smooth looking as yours.

  5. Marvelous! Made our paneer yesterday from fresh goat milk and the Tikka Masala tonite. 21 year old son and 10 year old dtr both loved it. Thank you! Pam

  6. 5 stars
    I have made this 6 times and also for my daughter ( who has a new baby) who needed a showstopper meal for a dinner party…it was a hit with the vegetarians and the non-vegetarians! Made a separate meal with cubed chicken ( marinated and roasted the same way) and equally as good. Tonight I am trying coconut milk…It’s almost ready!! Thank you for a perfectly described recipe!

  7. 5 stars
    So delicious every time. My family can never have enough curry bad this is just the most perfect side dish or even main course. Absolutely love it.

  8. 5 stars
    Made this this evening. Was amazing. Very tasty and yummy. My boyfriend gave it 11/10. I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out spectacular. Thank you!!!

  9. I am planning to make this over the weekend. I have yet to make an even decent tikka masala recipe but the comments give me hope. Only question, is this very spicy? I love the flavors but we like quite a bit of spice. Suggestions?

    1. It is not spicy but very flavorful! If you like a lot of heat add more of red chili powder/cayenne pepper while marinating the paneer..maybe 1 teaspoon in place of 1/4? Also you can red chili powder to the curry as well. It’s totally up to you. Hope this helps!

  10. 5 stars
    Hi Manali
    I made this tonight….it was delicious! Thanks for sharing! I wasn’t sure about whether to puree the cinnamon stick with the rest of the masala (I was worried it might leave a bitter taste) so I took it out. And I wasn’t sure about what you meant by roasting the paneer so I grilled it….it ended up with some, er, “well done” bits as the yoghurt marinade caught a bit – but I think that just added to the taste and looked very authentic! My husband (who is a confirmed carnivore) raved about it and said he would choose this over a chicken tikka masala any day as it had a fantastic depth to the flavours and great texture. 😊 x

    1. so glad you all enjoyed it Justine and if a carnivore says that he would pick this over chicken tikka masala, then that’s a huge compliment! Thank you 🙂

  11. 5 stars
    This is absolutely delicious.

    I never write reviews for recipes, but I am making an exception for this one.

    We doubled the recipe (tripling the amount of paneer) and have been eating it for a few days, and the longer it sits the better it tastes. It was super simple and flavorful. You can heat up leftovers in the microwave. We didn’t have cumin seeds, so we used the powder. We used greek yogurt for the tikka (a single-serve cup of plain store brand for like 80 cents). We also added cilantro paste during the onion sauteeing step. We didn’t measure anything and just eyeballed amounts based on the pictures. I think we paid around $20 for the ingredients including rice and naan bread (we already had all of the spices and the paneer was the most expensive at $10.98 for 2 packages), and got 5 days worth of dinner.

    We will be making it again.

  12. 5 stars
    This recipe is unbelievably delicious. I didn’t use any cream and just blended a few soaked cashews with the tomato and onions and it was phenomenal. Better than restaurant. I’ll make this again and again. Easy. Fast. And super delicious. Thank you so much for this terrific recipe!!!

  13. 5 stars
    Just made this… Absolutely gorgeous 👌.. So glad I found this recipe.. Super easy will be another to add to favourite dinner list

  14. 5 stars
    We have an indian restaurant near us that we get Tikka from often, tried making this one last night and the whole family thought it was delicious! Thanks!

  15. 4 stars
    The recipe sounded reasonable so we tripled it!
    My son is home from college and loved it. We added more butter and cream and fresh cilantro at the end. Next time we will add more paneer and more spices. Thank you for a great basic recipe that’s easy to customize and turn vegan when my daughter comes home!

  16. I’m a uni student and would like to make this to freeze for during busy times of the semester- does this recipe freeze well or do you have any tips on doing so? I’m really excited to try your recipe!

  17. 5 stars
    Made this recipe for the first time a few weeks ago, my boyfriend loves it so much he insists I make it every week. Now I am teaching him how to cook it. It’s delicious!

  18. 5 stars
    Here I am in Lancashire, UK. I made this yesterday and we really enjoyed it. I’ve never cooked with paneer before. I think next time I’ll try marinading overnight to see if the flavours develop more. Also I interpreted the ‘roast’ instruction as ‘grill’. I grilled on a high temperature and it worked well.

  19. 5 stars
    We just spent a two weeks holiday in Sri Lanka and the paneer tikka masala at Mango’s in Jaffna was a favorite. So once back home I rushed to the internet to find something similar. Glad I found your recipe. It is very easy to make – although I used halloumi cheese instead of paneer – and worked out perfectly.

  20. 5 stars
    Good recipe, good outcome , Long tiring way of writing and explaining it ! If it’s precise and short would be great ! Thanks again

  21. This was very good ! Thank you for the recipe . I didn’t have any yogurt so I used Cocunut cream. I did not have Garam masala , so I looked up how to make it . Didn’t make it, but used some of the ingredients like a pinch of nutmeg cloves , cumin, coriander and turmeric. I also used canned chopped tomatoes. I made it close to the recipe, going mild on the hot things . It turned out very flavorable and mild to my liking. My husband of course added some hot sauce of his choice. I plan to make this again.

  22. 5 stars
    Excellent Recipe, very tasty. I added tomato puree to sauce too plus some red colouring. Just wondering, does the paneer need to be softened in hot water before youghurt marinade, or is it not necassary. I was told always soften paneer in hot water, which I did before I did this recipe and the paneer was too soft and crumbled? Thank you

    1. store bought paneer yes should be softened in hot water for 15-20 minutes. Homemade paneer no, it’s quite soft to begin with. If your paneer was too soft then you don’t need to soak it. The one I get here at Indian stores always needs soaking, it’s hard otherwise.

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