Paneer Makhani | Pan fried paneer in a fragrant, smooth and creamy tomato and cashew gravy.
Paneer Makhani, also known as Paneer Butter Masala, Paneer Makahanwala and Butter Paneer is one dish that you’ll find on almost every Indian restaurant menu.
Paneer Makhani is a richly fragrant sauce made with spices, cream, onion, tomato and served with Indian cheese, paneer. It’s a dish often served at weddings, parties and restaurants. Contrary to popular belief, heavy, butter laden dishes are not the norm for everyday Indian food. In fact, growing up my Mom made these creamy dishes only once in a while.
Similarly, I made this dish for the first time when my parents came to visit me after I got married. It was a huge deal for me and the first time I would be cooking for them, so I wanted to wow them. I researched some recipes, tinkered with proportions until I got something I was pleased with. When I served the dish to my dad, he was so impressed. He went as far as to tell me it was the best paneer dish he’s had. MAJOR compliment coming from him as he’s known in our family to be the toughest critic when it comes to food and restaurants. Since then, this dish has been a hit every time I make it.
The gravy in this dish is rich and aromatic with the perfect balance of spice and hint of sweetness from the paneer and cream. I like to serve this with tandoori rotis, pickled onions and a simple raita. The cashew paste adds a richness to the dish. The amount of spices might differ from one household to another but tomatoes, cream and cashews are always used. Some like to fry and brown the paneer, while some use it raw. I like to pan fry mine as it prevents the cheese from crumbling in the sauce without making them stiff from deep frying.
Because of it’s richness and vibrant colors, this was the dish I chose to make a few weeks ago when I was interviewed about living and working in Jersey City. You can see the full video here or check out the video below!
- 2 cup Paneer, pan fried cubes
- 3-4 Green cardamom
- 2 cup Onion, chopped
- 2 cup Tomato, chopped
- ¼ cup Heavy Cream
- 4 tablespoon Butter
- 2 tablespoon Oil
- 12-14 Cashews
- 1 tablespoon Ginger Garlic paste
- 1 tablespoon Kasoori Methi/Dried Fenugreek
- 1 teaspoon Jeera/Cumin seeds
- 1 Cinnamon stick
- 3 Cloves
- ½ teaspoon Haldi/Turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon Lal Mirch/Red Chili powder
- 2 teaspoon Tandoori Masala
- ½ teaspoon Coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon Sugar
- 3 teaspoon Salt; adjust to taste
- For Garnish: Garam Masala & Fresh Cilantro
- In a small bowl, soak the cashews in one cup of hot water. Set aside.
- On medium high, heat the oil in a deep frying pan. Add in the onions and sauté until translucent. Add in the chopped tomato and cook until the oil starts separating. Remove from heat and let cool.
- In a blender or a food processor, purée the onion and tomato until smooth.
- Heat the butter in the same pan and add the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, cloves and cumin seeds. Once they start sputtering add in the ginger garlic paste and onion tomato purée.
- Meanwhile, using the same blender, purée the the cashews and the water they were soaking in. You should have a thick milky consistency. Set aside.
- In the pan once the oils start separating from the with the edges add in the turmeric powder, red chili powder, tandoori masala, kasoori methi, coriander powder, sugar and salt. Mix well, taste for salt / adjust as needed. Mix well, cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Lower heat to medium low add the cashew milk and paneer, stirring well. Let bubble and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add in heavy cream, mix together and turn off the heat.
- Garnish with a sprinkle of garam masala and fresh cilantro.
This recipe can be made up to two days ahead of time and refrigerated. Just reheat when ready to serve. I think it tastes better the next day, as the flavors have a chance to marinate the paneer.