Paneer Butter Masala Recipe

Paneer Butter Masala Recipe Recipe

Paneer butter masala probably isn't the healthiest vegetarian dish out there, but it is surely delicious. Pretty much anything with butter in the title is a recipe for success. I remember a restaurant reviewer once saying that given enough butter and cream, sand can taste great. That may be a bit of a stretch, but when you layer this sauce over gently fried Indian cheese, it’s impossible to resist.

The sauce consists of a blend of butter, heavy cream, tomato sauce, lime juice, almond flour and a few other Indian spices. To that, fried cubes of paneer (Indian cheese) are added and simmered. You could always substitute fried tofu for the paneer, but I think it's better to go all out in the calorie department if you’re going to make this dish!


Yields: 6 servings

16 ounces paneer (Indian cheese), cubed
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste (see tips)
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder, freshly ground
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
1 tablespoon sour cream (optional)
1-½ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (14.5-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 medium-sized tomatoes, coarsely diced
2 to 3 tablespoons almond flour (see tips)
2 yellow onions
1 jalapeño green pepper (to taste)
3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
2 teaspoons smoked paprika powder
¼ teaspoon red chili powder
1 tablespoon fresh dill, coarsely chopped
1 lime, freshly squeezed


Prepping the chile: Using a paring knife, create a 2-inch incision in the whole chile pepper. Remove the seeds if you like the dish less spicy. Note: Remember not to rub your eyes after touching jalapeño pepper seeds.

For the paneer: Heat the canola oil in a pan and fry the cubes of paneer until they are golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel, leaving as much oil as possible in the pan. Set the paneer aside.

For the masala sauce: In a large deep saucepan, heat the canola oil. Fry the onion in the oil, stirring frequently to prevent it from burning, until the color is evenly golden brown. Add the coriander and cinnamon. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, then add the remaining yogurt, stirring frequently. Transfer to a mini-blender and blend until the sauce is smooth. Add the heavy cream. Set aside.

Assembly time:

In the same saucepan, add 2 tablespoons of ghee. Add ginger garlic paste, cumin seeds, jalapeño pepper and red chili powder. Cook until fragrant. Add the coarsely diced fresh tomatoes, turmeric powder, the masala sauce and about 1-½ cups of water. Bring to a full boil then lower the heat to medium-high. Cover with a dome-shaped lid to enable the steam to fall back in the saucepan. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the tomato paste and the tomato sauce. Season with salt. Add the fried paneer. Cook for another 8-10 minutes. Thicken the sauce with almond flour for a thick texture.

Adjust seasoning. The sauce should be slightly sweet (from the caramelized onions). Bring back to a full boil. Add the sour cream (if used, you could also add more heavy cream) and finish with lime juice. Stir well.

In a small pan, melt the remaining ghee. As soon as the ghee is melted, add the smoked paprika. Transfer the paprika-flavored butter to the masala dish.

Serve with steamed basmati rice, naan or roti (flat Indian wheat bread). You can decorate with a few sprigs of fresh dill if you like.

Bon appétit!


You can make your own paneer or buy it at your local Indian market.

Indian cuisine always calls for ginger garlic paste. It tastes great and is very healthy for you as well. Just clean the ginger and remove any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife, then finely chop it. Place the chopped ginger and 5 cloves of garlic in a blender, add about 2 tablespoons (or more) of water for a smooth flow. Transfer to a small jar and store in the refrigerator. You can keep this paste for at least a week in the refrigerator.

Little reminder on how to make almond flour: You can either buy ready-made finely ground almonds or make it yourself. Grind the roasted almonds in a food processor or blender. Make sure you stop before it turns into nut butter.

You can use the same base for the sauce and make this dish with any meat.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on June 10, 2011.


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