How To Make Punjabi-Style Paneer Butter Masala For Lunch

Paneer Butter Masala is a quintessential Punjabi dish that has gained immense popularity not only in India but worldwide.

This rich, creamy, and aromatic curry made with soft paneer cubes (Indian cottage cheese) simmered in a luscious tomato-based gravy is a favorite among vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. It’s a perfect dish for lunch, bringing a touch of Punjabi flair to your dining table. Let’s explore how to make this delectable Paneer Butter Masala step by step.


For the Paneer Marinade:

  • 250 grams paneer, cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • Salt to taste

For the Gravy:

  • 3 large tomatoes, pureed
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1/2 cup cashew nuts, soaked in warm water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2-3 green cardamom pods
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 cup fresh cream
  • 1 tablespoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh coriander leaves for garnish

Preparation Steps

Marinating the Paneer

  1. Prepare the Marinade: In a bowl, combine yogurt, red chili powder, turmeric powder, garam masala, and salt. Mix well to form a smooth marinade.
  2. Marinate the Paneer: Add the paneer cubes to the marinade and coat them evenly. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to penetrate the paneer.

Preparing the Gravy

  1. Blend Cashews: Drain the soaked cashews and blend them into a smooth paste with a little water. Set aside.
  2. Cook the Aromatics: In a large pan, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add cumin seeds, green cardamom pods, and bay leaf. Sauté until fragrant.
  3. Add Onions and Ginger-Garlic Paste: Add finely chopped onions and cook until they turn golden brown. Add ginger-garlic paste and sauté until the raw smell disappears.
  4. Tomato Puree: Add the tomato puree and cook until the oil starts to separate from the mixture.
  5. Spices and Cashew Paste: Add red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, and salt. Mix well. Add the cashew paste and cook for a few minutes until the gravy thickens and the raw taste of cashew disappears.
  6. Simmer: Add water to adjust the consistency of the gravy. Bring it to a gentle boil and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes on low heat.

3. Combining Paneer and Gravy:

  1. Cook the Paneer: In a separate pan, lightly sauté the marinated paneer cubes until they are golden brown. This step is optional, but it adds a nice texture to the paneer.
  2. Add Paneer to Gravy: Gently add the sautéed paneer cubes to the gravy. Mix well to ensure the paneer is well-coated with the gravy.
  3. Finishing Touches: Add garam masala, fresh cream, and crushed kasuri methi. Mix well and let it simmer for another 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning if needed.

Serving Paneer Butter Masala

Paneer Butter Masala is best served hot, garnished with fresh coriander leaves. It pairs beautifully with a variety of Indian breads such as naan, roti, or paratha. It can also be enjoyed with a side of steamed basmati rice or jeera rice.

Tips for Making Perfect Paneer Butter Masala

  • Fresh Ingredients: Use fresh tomatoes, good quality paneer, and fresh cream for the best taste.
  • Homemade Paneer: If possible, make paneer at home. Homemade paneer is fresher and softer compared to store-bought ones.
  • Balancing Flavors: The sweetness of the tomatoes and cream balances the spices. Adjust the spice levels according to your preference.
  • Soaking Cashews: Soaking the cashews in warm water helps in making a smooth paste, which is essential for the creamy texture of the gravy.
  • Kasuri Methi: Adding kasuri methi enhances the flavor and adds an authentic touch to the dish.

Health Benefits of Paneer Butter Masala

  1. Rich in Protein: Paneer is an excellent source of protein, making this dish a great option for vegetarians to meet their protein needs.
  2. Calcium and Phosphorus: Paneer is also rich in calcium and phosphorus, which are essential for strong bones and teeth.
  3. Good Fats: The use of butter and cream adds healthy fats to the dish, which are important for overall health in moderation.

Variations of Paneer Butter Masala

  1. Tofu Butter Masala: Substitute paneer with tofu for a vegan version of this dish. Use coconut cream or cashew cream instead of dairy cream.
  2. Paneer Makhani: For a slightly different flavor, you can make Paneer Makhani by adding a little sugar to the gravy and using more cream.
  3. Spicy Paneer Butter Masala: If you prefer a spicier version, increase the amount of red chili powder and add some green chilies to the gravy.


Paneer Butter Masala is a beloved dish that brings the rich and hearty flavors of Punjabi cuisine to your table. Its creamy texture, aromatic spices, and tender paneer cubes make it a crowd-pleaser.

Whether you’re cooking for a special occasion or a regular lunch, this dish is sure to impress. Follow this recipe to create an authentic Punjabi-style Paneer Butter Masala that will transport your taste buds to the vibrant land of Punjab.

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