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I believe that salt is to food, what food is to life. In right proportions, it can heighten the taste of what you eat..and in the wrong - destroy! Even the most delicious sweets come added with some salt...to taste!

As for me, I've never enjoyed cooking. And as contrary to my owning a food-blog as it may sound, I always think about daily, routine cooking as a chore. But my tryst with the pots and pans began when I got a kitchen all to myself...I began experimenting and exploring new worlds in my own home. Some outcomes were excellent and some plain disasters. Then sprouted the need to keep track of all those good ones...and hence this blog!

Here, I share those experiments that pleased more than one palate!

September 6, 2011

Paneer Butter Masala

Siri Pulipaka decided this months theme for us, Free-Spirit Bloggers. To say she took us down memory lane is one thing, but here's what she did. She left us there to wander about all those memories and the restaurants we'd visit as children. And, the most important thing she made us do: Re-live the moments in that restaurant eating the one dish that always made its way to the waiter's order note-pad. 

For me it's always been Paneer Butter Masala. The moment we'd grab our seats in any restaurant, the one thing we knew we were going to order was this. Everything else did not even matter. I still remember us driving up to the Karnataka State Billiards Association (KSBA) on weekends for Bingo Nights. I was very young to understand the game. So I'd sit there munching on appetizers, trying to understand the game, telling Dad and Mom  I see the number on their sheets, knowing well what followed for dinner.

While I spent all of my childhood and teenage years, gorging down this North Indian delicacy, things changed after I stepped into wed-lock. Once I learnt the basics around the kitchen, I wanted to, for certain, learn to make this favourite. I still remember the very first time I made it (a pretty home-y version sans cashews and cream) and was super excited. Almost as if I had created a new being or something. Then on, I explored various ways of making paneer butter masala - From recipe books, magazines and the internet. I've come down to one recipe, a combination of a little bit of everything I've read. And, this one works every time and gets me the results I'm looking for.

Mildly spiced, creamy cashew sauce with succulent paneer cubes. What wouldn't go with it? Roti - Yes! Naan - Yes! Kulcha - Yes! Plain white/brown bread - Yes! Rice - Yes. In fact, I could down bowls of Paneer Butter Masala all by itself!!

10 to 12 oz. Fresh paneer, cubed (Use as much as you like, really!)
2 Cups (approx. 1.5 medium sized) tomatoes, cubed
3 Cups (approx 2 medium sized) onions, cubed
1/2 Cup Tomato puree
1.5 cups Cashew nuts
1 inch Cinnamon stick
3 Dried red chillies
4-5 cloves of Garlic, peeled
1 tbsp Kasuri Methi/ Dried fenugreek leaves
1.5 tsp. Garam masala powder
1 tbsp Coriander/Dhania powder
1/2 tbsp Cumin/Jeera powder
1/2 tsp. Haldi/Turmeric powder
2 tbsp Heavy Cream (optional)
1 sprig of fresh Coriander, for garnishing
1 tbsp Butter (Use more if you like)
2 tbsp Oil
And, of course, some salt to taste!

- Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a wide saucepan and add garlic and red chilles, stirring for a few seconds
- Toss in the cashew nuts and stir until they turn slightly brown on the outsides
- Add onions, fry until translucent
- Add tomatoes, fry until all the moisture content evaporates
- Throw in the kasuri methi and stir fry this mixture for about 5 minutes
- Set aside and allow to cool
- Place paneer cubes in a bowl of warm water for about 10 minutes. This allows them to soften and retain softness in the gravy. I do not normally fry paneer cubes before I add them to any dish. You could opt to do so by shallow frying the paneer in butter and setting aside
- Grind the cooled cashew-onion-tomato mixture to a smooth paste and set aside
- Heat the butter in a non-stick saucepan and add garam masala powder, coriander powder and cumin powder and stir
- Add the ground cashew-onion-tomato and the tomato puree to thin its consistency
- Add salt and stir on a low-medium flame for about 2 minutes
- Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the mixture cooks
- Add water until desired consistency is reached
- Drain water off the paneer and toss in the paneer cubes and stir
- Cover and simmer for another 3 minutes. You could add some cream to thicken the gravy at this point, before covering
- Pour in serving bowl and garnish with cream and a sprig of coriander. I haven't added the cream in my recipe/garnish

Serves 4-6

Looking for more restaurant favourites? Look no further. The other FSB-ites - Madhuri, Siri, Nags, Lataji, Anu and Mittu - have the best of the best up for you. Hop on to each of their blogs and grab the recipes!


  1. Hi Deepti,
    Yummy ! Not a big fan of Paneer though. I liked your Nan. Did u make Nan too. Plz post your Nan recipe in your blog sometime.

  2. So tempting paneer butter masala,quite inviting..

  3. This is one of my favorite restaurant recipe too. When I think I made peace with this recipe, I find another interesting variation to try. Yumm.

  4. Looks perfect n delicious ...with those naan is just so yum

  5. Looks wonderful , one of my all time favorites !!!

  6. wow my fav food too,love to have it with nan,luks too gud and perfect...

  7. I think I have also been ordering paneer butter masala more times than any side dish to go with butter naan at restaurants. The dish looks rich and creamy that I am hoping to follow this recipe and try making at home.

  8. Looks so yummy, always a perfect accompaniment to my roti. I love paneer in any form.