Paneer Butter Masala @ Paneer Makhni - Cottage cheese coated and dunked in a rich tomato onion gravy cooked to perfection with a medley of spices, herbs, nut paste and cream. That more or less defines the recipe.
PBM is one of the most exotic and commonly ordered dishes in any Indian restaurant (globally). It is said to have been invented, by accident, in a restaurant's kitchen in New Delhi in the early 60's and has since then been a mandatory dish in most of the restaurants/ wedding buffet menu/ parties etc (Source Wiki).
Coming to my cooking experience, this was the first recipe that I attempted as a teen. Over the years, the recipe has evolved with many trials and improvisations and this is my to-go version. To point out, I have included healthy options like Greek yoghurt, almonds and honey in the recipe. Besides being healthy inclusions they don't compromise on the taste and richness of the recipe. I play by the availability of ingredients but I recommend using all these for a holistic outcome.
Preparation time: 25 min
Cooking time: 10 -12min
Category: Side dish
Cuisine: Punjabi cuisine
Spice level: Medium
|Amount Per Serving|
|% Daily Value *|
|Total Fat 32 g||50 %|
|Saturated Fat 17 g||83 %|
|Monounsaturated Fat 5 g|
|Polyunsaturated Fat 2 g|
|Trans Fat 0 g|
|Cholesterol 76 mg||25 %|
|Sodium 201 mg||8 %|
|Potassium 358 mg||10 %|
|Total Carbohydrate 19 g||6 %|
|Dietary Fiber 4 g||15 %|
|Sugars 10 g|
|Protein 16 g||32 %|
|Vitamin A||29 %|
|Vitamin C||26 %|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
- 300 gm fresh Paneer
- 3 big onions diced
- 3 big tomatoes diced
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp peanut oil
- 15-20 cashew nuts or blanched almonds or both
- 3 tbsp Greek yogurt + 2 tbsp thickened cream
- 1 small piece of beetroot for colour ( tip share - Amudha Siva)
- few sprigs of fresh coriander (optional)
- 2 green chillies
- 2 red chillies ( use Kashmiri chillies for a less pungent version)
- 1 inch piece ginger
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp red chilli powder ( skip for a milder version)
- 1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp Garam Masala powder
- 1/2 tsp Kitchen king Masala powder
- 1 inch piece cinnamon
- 2 bay leaves
- 2-3 cloves
- Himalayan pink salt ( to taste)
- 1 tbsp raw sugar or 1.5 tbsp raw honey ( I used honey)
- 1 tbsp tomato sauce ( optional)
- 1 tsp Kasoori Methi( crushed)
- Saffron strands and cardamom powder ( absolutely optional)
- Mise en place - Arrange all the ingredients first.This helps you finish the dish on time not missing out on any ingredient or step.The list of ingredients may seem long but trust me, when everything is in order this is one of the easiest recipes to prepare.
- In a large pan/ Kadai heat butter. Saute onion, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, green chillies, red chillies, beetroot, coriander. Add a dash of salt to fasten the cooking.
- When the vegetables soften turn the heat off and set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, soak cashews in hot water. If using almonds, blanch them and peel off the skin. Grind in a mixer to a very smooth paste using the soaked water and set aside.
- Whisk yogurt, cream and sugar/ honey into a lump free smooth paste and place it in the refrigerator until use. You could also add the saffron strands to this mixture to infuse.
- Cut Paneer into cubes and keep the pieces immersed in warm water until use.
- Once the sauteed vegetables are cool, add all the spice powders and grind to a smooth paste. Add 1/4 cup of water to the mixer, rinse well and reserve for later use.
- Heat 1/2 tbsp butter ( reserve other 1/2 tbsp) and 1 tbsp oil in the same pan. When hot add the whole spices - bay leaves, cloves and cinnamon. When a nice aroma wafts, add the reserved gravy water and lower the flame. When it bubbles, add the ground paste and mix well.
- Add salt, sugar and tomato sauce. Mix well.Bring the whisked cream and yogurt mixture out of the refrigerator and in one swift motion add it into the gravy and stir quickly immediately followed by the cashew almond paste. Check for salt, sweetness quotient and spice level and add whatever is required.
- Turn off the flame and add Kasoori Methi. Stir well. The gravy thickens at this stage.
- Drain the Paneer pieces and gently add it to the bubbling gravy. Gently stir to coat.
- Garnish with crushed Kasoori methi, a pinch of masala powder of choice, cardamom powder, red chilli powder, chopped coriander, cream and lastly the 1/2 tbsp of reserved butter.
- Serve with Naan, Roti, Kulcha, Pulao or plain Basmathi rice.
- For a vegan version, replace Paneer with Tofu. Skip the cream, yogurt and honey and increase the quantity of cashew and almonds to 15 each to make a smooth paste.
- Some of them saute the Paneer in butter or oil before adding it to the gravy. I feel that it makes the texture rubbery and always prefer adding the bubbling hot gravy on top of Paneer cubes assembled in a serving dish. Because Paneer is kept immersed in water it will easily soak up in the hot gravy and also prevents it from disintegrating while stirring.
- Adjust chillies according to your family's preferences. If you do not prefer green chillies use only the red variety to saute but add red chilli powder along with spice powders.
- I have added beetroot for a natural deep orange colour. You can choose to use food colour if you prefer.
- There is no hard and fast rule while making this recipe. Originally, the recipe doesn't call for saffron strands, yoghurt mixture or cardamom. I do so because of the subtle sweet taste and flavour.