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Paneer Butter Masala

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Are you ready to embark on a culinary adventure that transcends the boundaries of vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare? Prepare to be dazzled by a flavor explosion that will leave even the most dedicated meat lovers begging for more. Introducing the delectable Paneer Butter Masala – a vegetarian delight that defies expectations and captivates taste buds like never before.

A white dish with paneer masala.
Butter Paneer Masala Recipe.

What is Paneer

The true star of Paneer Butter Masala, however, is the irresistible paneer itself. Paneer is a fresh, unripened cheese that originated in the Indian subcontinent, and it has been a beloved staple in Indian cuisine for centuries. Made by curdling milk with lemon juice or vinegar, paneer is then drained and pressed to create a firm yet tender cheese with a mild, slightly tangy taste.

Its versatility is one of the reasons paneer has gained such a wide fan base. It can be grilled, fried, or crumbled into dishes, taking on various textures and flavors depending on the cooking technique. Paneer also shines in its ability to absorb the flavors of the spices and sauces it is cooked with, making it a perfect partner for rich and complex curry dishes like Paneer Butter Masala.

Not only does paneer offer a delightful taste and texture experience, but it also brings along a range of nutritional benefits. Packed with protein and calcium, paneer is a great option for those looking to incorporate more vegetarian sources of these essential nutrients into their diet. Additionally, paneer is low in carbohydrates and contains healthy fats, making it a filling and satisfying ingredient that can help regulate blood sugar levels and promote overall health.

The versatility, taste, and nutritional benefits of paneer make it a perfect addition to any kitchen, whether you follow a vegetarian lifestyle or not. In the next section, we will dive deeper into the ingredients and substitutes used in Paneer Butter Masala, giving you the knowledge you need to recreate this vegetarian delight or explore variations that suit your taste preferences. So, get ready to uncover the secrets behind the mouthwatering flavors of this beloved dish and the magic of paneer itself.,

What is paneer butter masala?

Paneer Butter Masala is a dish that has captured the hearts and taste buds of countless food enthusiasts around the world. But what exactly is this delectable creation? Let’s take a closer look and unravel the secrets behind this vegetarian delight.

At its core, Paneer Butter Masala is a creamy and rich curry made with paneer, a type of fresh cheese commonly used in Indian cuisine. Paneer is known for its soft and crumbly texture, making it a perfect vehicle for soaking up the flavors of the fragrant tomato-based gravy that envelops it in this dish.

The gravy itself is the star of the show, providing the perfect balance of tanginess, sweetness, and spice. It is typically made by sautéing onions, garlic, and ginger until golden brown, then adding a blend of spices like garam masala, turmeric, and paprika. The addition of cashew or almond paste adds a touch of creaminess and richness to the sauce, providing a velvety smoothness that is hard to resist.

The combination of the tender and chewy paneer with the luscious, flavorful gravy is what makes Paneer Butter Masala a truly irresistible dish. It is a harmonious symphony of textures and flavors that come together to create a culinary masterpiece that satisfies both the senses and the stomach.

While Paneer Butter Masala is traditionally a vegetarian dish, its allure extends beyond the boundaries of vegetarian cuisine. The robust flavors and rich sauce make it a perfect accompaniment to a variety of meat dishes. The creamy curry acts as a versatile canvas, enhancing the flavors of meat and adding a touch of indulgence to any meal.

A skillet with Paneer Masala butter.
Butter Paneer Masala Recipe.

Ingredients and substitutes

  • One of the key ingredients in Paneer Butter Masala is tomatoes. They provide the foundation for the creamy sauce, lending a tangy and slightly sweet undertone to the dish. If you prefer a milder flavor, you can opt for ripe and juicy tomatoes. Conversely, if you prefer a more tangy and robust taste, you can use slightly underripe tomatoes. This simple modification allows you to tailor the flavor to your liking.
  • Onions, another essential component, add a subtle sweetness and depth to the sauce. While traditional recipes call for red or white onions, you can experiment with different types such as shallots or even spring onions to impart a unique twist to the dish. The choice of onions can bring out various flavors and nuances in the overall taste, allowing you to personalize the dish according to your preferences.
  • The perfect balance of spices is what sets recipe apart from other dishes. The combination of aromatic spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, and Kashmiri red chili powder creates a harmonious blend that elevates the flavors of the dish. If you don’t have all these spices readily available, worry not! You can use a pre-mixed curry powder or a spice blend that aligns with your taste preferences. Just remember to adjust the quantity accordingly so as not to overpower or underwhelm the final result.
  • Now that we have covered the main ingredients, let’s explore some substitutes you can consider. If you are lactose intolerant or simply prefer a dairy-free option, you can replace paneer with tofu. Though the taste and texture will differ slightly, tofu offers a similar protein-packed alternative that complements the creamy sauce of Paneer Butter Masala. Additionally, if you are seeking a vegan option, coconut milk can be used instead of dairy cream, providing a rich and luscious base for the sauce.
Butter Paneer served on the table with rice.
Butter Paneer Masala Recipe.

Tips for Success

  • Start with fresh paneer: Using fresh, homemade paneer or buying it from a trusted source ensures the best taste and texture. Look for a firm but not too hard paneer with a creamy white color.
  • Sauté the spices: To enhance the dish’s flavor, lightly toast the spices in the butter before adding other ingredients. This step allows the spices to release their aromatic oils, creating a more robust and fragrant sauce.
  • Slow-cook for richness: While it may be tempting to rush the cooking process, allowing the sauce to simmer on low heat for an extended period is essential. This slow-cooking method helps blend the flavors and allows the paneer to absorb the creamy sauce, resulting in a more flavorful and tender dish.
  • Adjust the seasoning: Taste the sauce as it simmers and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Add more salt or spices if needed, ensuring the flavors are well-balanced and to your liking.
  • Garnish with love: Before serving, sprinkle some fresh coriander leaves or chopped cilantro to add freshness and brightness to the dish. This final touch not only enhances the visual appeal but also adds a burst of flavor.

Pairing Paneer Butter Masala with Meat Dishes

  • One option for pairing Paneer Butter Masala with meat dishes is to serve it alongside a succulent chicken curry. The creamy texture and mild spices of Paneer Butter Masala provide a perfect contrast to the bold flavors of a spicy chicken curry. The combination of tender paneer cubes and chicken pieces creates a delightful medley of flavors and textures that will satisfy everyone at the table.
  • If you’re looking for a more indulgent pairing, consider serving Paneer Butter Masala with buttery and tender morsels of butter chicken. The richness of both dishes creates a symphony of flavors that is hard to resist. The creamy tomato-based gravy of Paneer Butter Masala harmonizes beautifully with the tangy and aromatic flavors of butter chicken, resulting in a truly mouthwatering combination.
  • Pairing Paneer Butter Masala with lamb curry is a fantastic choice for those who enjoy lamb flavors. The robust and earthy flavors of the lamb curry complement the creamy and slightly sweet notes of Paneer Butter Masala. Together, these dishes create a harmonious balance of flavors that will leave your taste buds craving for more.
  • Another option is to pair Paneer Butter Masala with a rich and flavorful beef curry. The tender paneer cubes add a delightful creaminess to the hearty and bold flavors of the beef curry. This combination creates a satisfying and well-rounded meal that will please even the most ardent meat lovers.

Frequently asked questions

Is Paneer Butter Masala only for vegetarians?

No, Paneer Butter Masala is traditionally a vegetarian dish as it uses paneer, which is a type of Indian cottage cheese. However, it can still be enjoyed by non-vegetarians as a side dish or as part of a meat-based meal. Its rich and creamy texture adds depth and flavor to any spread.

What is paneer and where can I find it?

Paneer is a fresh cheese common in Indian cuisine. It is made by curdling milk with lemon juice or vinegar, and then pressing the curds to remove the whey. Paneer has a mild and slightly tangy flavor, making it versatile for both savory and sweet dishes. You can find paneer in Indian grocery stores, specialty cheese shops, or even make it at home using readily available ingredients.

Can I make Paneer Butter Masala ahead of time?

Yes, you can make Paneer Butter Masala ahead of time and simply reheat it before serving. The flavors tend to develop and meld together when kept overnight, enhancing the taste. This makes it a convenient option for parties or gatherings where you want to minimize last-minute preparations.

Can I substitute paneer with another type of cheese?

While paneer is the ideal cheese for Paneer Butter Masala, you can try substituting it with firm tofu for a vegan version. However, keep in mind that the texture and taste will be different. Tofu has a softer texture and absorbs flavors differently than paneer, so the end result may vary slightly.

How spicy is Paneer Butter Masala?

The level of spiciness in Paneer Butter Masala can be adjusted according to personal preference. Traditional recipes use a combination of spices such as red chili powder, garam masala, and green chilies, which add a mild to moderate level of heat. Feel free to adjust the amount of chili powder or omit the green chilies altogether to suit your taste.

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Pinterest image for butter paneer masala.
Butter Paneer Masala Recipe.

A skillet with Paneer Masala butter.

Paneer Butter Masala

5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Calories: 475kcal
Adjust Servings Here: 4 servings
Are you ready to embark on a culinary adventure that transcends the boundaries of vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare? Prepare to be dazzled by a flavor explosion that will leave even the most dedicated meat lovers begging for more. Introducing the delectable Paneer Butter Masala – a vegetarian delight that defies expectations and captivates taste buds like never before.


  • 250 grams (8 oz) Paneer cubed
  • 4 large Tomatoes pureed
  • 2 tbsp Cooking oil
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 2 med Onions finely chopped
  • 4 large Garlic cloves minced
  • 1-inch piece Fresh ginger grated
  • 2 med Green chilies slit
  • 10-12 pieces Cashews soaked and ground into a paste
  • 1/2 cup Cooking Cream 15%+
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1 tbsp Kasuri Methi Dried Fenugreek Leaves, crushed
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Sugar optional
  • ½ – 1 cup Water as needed
  • ¼ cup For garnish: Cilantro


  • Saute – Heat oil and butter in a skillet. Sauté onions, ginger-garlic paste, and green chilies. Stir in tomato puree and cook until oil separates.
    2 tbsp Cooking oil, 2 tbsp Butter, 2 med Onions, 4 large Garlic cloves, 1-inch piece Fresh ginger, 2 med Green chilies, 4 large Tomatoes
  • Spices – Add turmeric, coriander, red chili powder, and salt. Add the cashew paste and cook until thick.
    10-12 pieces Cashews, 1 tsp Garam Masala, 1 tsp Kashmiri Red Chili Powder, 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder, 1 tsp Coriander Powder, ½ tsp Salt
  • Simmer – Pour water to desired consistency and boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes.
    ½ – 1 cup Water
  • Finish – Add paneer cubes and simmer until soft. Stir in cream, garam masala, kasuri methi, and sugar.
    250 grams Paneer, 1/2 cup Cooking Cream, 1 tbsp Kasuri Methi, 1 tsp Sugar
  • Garnishing – Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with naan or rice.
    ¼ cup For garnish: Cilantro

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Nutrition Information
Calories: 475kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 90mg | Sodium: 388mg | Potassium: 600mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 2278IU | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 366mg | Iron: 1mg

The nutrition information and metric conversion are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee its accuracy. If this data is important to you please verify with your trusted nutrition calculator. Thank you

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