The Best Restaurant style Paneer Butter Masala Recipe
Last Updated on May 30, 2023 by Santosh Allada
Want an easy recipe to replicate Restaurant style Paneer Butter Masala at home? If yes then here is a recipe that you can quickly cook up on weekdays or weekends. Soft paneer pieces simmered in a luscious, rich, silky smooth, and creamy tomato-based gravy.
It has been a while since I posted restaurant-style curries. For me, it gives a immense pleasure to recreate restaurant-style texture and color at home. I like to simplify restaurant recipes and you might have noticed the same in my previous posts.
Today I decided to dig out my recipe collection and share the most amazing Paneer Butter Masala recipe restaurant style.
What is Paneer Butter Masala?
Paneer Butter Masala is a scrumptious restaurant-style paneer curry dish with rich, creamy, buttery, and super flavorful onion-tomato gravy. It is a rich and luxurious main course dish, perfect for special occasions family dinners, or guest dinners.
This famous cottage cheese curry is a signature dish of the North Indian vegetarian main course. This vegetarian counterpart is an adaptation of the renowned butter chicken and is a delicious treat for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
Paneer butter masala curry is not spicy. So, the color of the gravy is not bright red. Instead, the signature color of this dish is bright orange.
Difference between Panner Butter and Paneer Butter Masala?
Paneer Butter Masala is available in most of the dhabas and North Indian restaurants across the country with different names such as Paneer Makhani, Butter Paneer, or Paneer Makhanwala. But, there is a difference;
Paneer Butter aka, Paneer Makhani or Paneer Makhanwala literally translates to paneer that is cooked in butter. But, these are not the only two ingredients used to make the dish. Paneer is cooked in a thick and rich buttery (makhani) gravy made with tomatoes, heavy cream, cashews, and tons of aromatic spices.
While there is a similarity between the ingredients, the main difference is Paneer Butter Masala undergoes second tempering of onion tomato while Paneer Makhani doesn’t!!
About Restaurant style Paneer Butter Masala Recipe
This restaurant style paneer butter masala recipe is a no-brainer and does not require culinary expertise.
In restaurants, paneer butter masala is made by combining OTM (onion and tomato masala), makhani gravy (aka tomato cashew gravy) along with whole spices, powdered spices, kasuri methi, butter, and a finishing touch of cream.
If I share the same process, it will include preparing multiple gravies that will increase your work and cooking time. Instead, I’m sharing an easier version where everything is cooked in one pot.
I usually cook the masala first with whole spices, onion, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, green chili, and cashews. Then I grind (smooth) 80% of the onion tomato masala in the blender to make a rich, thick, silky smooth, and delightfully fragrant sauce.
I bring back the sauce to the pan and cook it along with powdered spices, butter, and simmer paneer pieces until they absorb all the flavors. Lastly, I finish it with a splash of cream.
The flavors of this restaurant-style dish mainly come from fresh tomatoes, cashews, ginger, garlic, kasuri methi, butter, and cream!
I often get asked how my curries always look so vibrantly red and bright orange. If you have visited my previous posts, you would know the secret. And, if you are new to my blog, the secret is a mix of good quality red chili powder and kashmiri red chili powder. Also, the other key ingredient is ripe and juicy Bangalore tomatoes.
Try this easy recipe once and I am sure you will never order it from a restaurant.
Reasons to make
Authentic restaurant-style recipe
Mildy spiced makes it suitable for all family members
Rich and aromatic gravy
Delightful treat for vegetarians
Crowd pleaser in a party or get together
One of the secrets to making the best restaurant style paneer butter masala at home is to be patient and not hurry with the cooking process. In the restaurants, gravies are cooked for hours on a slow flame. The ingredients need to be slow-cooked to bring out the flavor in foods.
If using a store-bought paneer packet, wash the paneer slab after taking it out from the packet to get rid of the slimy layer on top. Next, soak it in hot water for 20-30 minutes before adding it to the gravy.
If you are using frozen paneer, boil it for 1-2 minutes or until it softens. Drain and use.
The gravy texture has to be silky smooth. So grind the cooked onion tomato masala to a fine puree. If you do not have a powerful blender or mixer grinder then pass the puree through a strainer.
This dish is low on spice, so use minimal spices. In this recipe, I have added a little red chili powder and kashmiri red chili powder mainly for color.
Before adding kasoori methi to the gravy, crush it between your palm before adding. It will release its flavor.
Sometimes because of moisture, you will not be able to crush it into powder. In that case, dry roast in a pan on the stovetop or toast it in the microwave for 30-34 seconds. Let it cool and then crush.
This is an indulgent dish, so do not cut down the butter and cream amount. It will give that authentic restaurant style buttery and creamy flavor. You can add more to make it super rich or while making it for your guests.
Do not simmer paneer pieces for a long time. They will lose their moisture and become chewy.
After adding cream, avoid cooking the curry for a long time. It will split and turn into ghee.
The list of ingredients can be intimidating but each ingredient is important to make a fantastic Paneer Butter Masala Restaurant style. These ingredients are easily available in any Indian supermarket.
Paneer: For convenience, I used store-bought paneer in this recipe. You can use homemade panner.
Onions & Tomatoes: Indian curries are incomplete without these two ingredients in the base masala. However, the ratio varies depending on the dish. In this recipe the quantity of tomatoes is almost 5 to 6 times of onions, which means for 1 onion, we need 5 to 6 tomatoes.
When it comes to making restaurant-style curries at home I highly recommend using ripe and juicy Bangalore tomatoes, plum tomatoes, or Roma tomatoes. Do not use local, unripe, beefsteaks, or wine-ripe tomatoes. They will make the gravy sour.
Whole spices: Add bay leaf, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon in the initial tempering to flavor the onion-tomato masala.
Fats: Paneer Butter Masala is a rich and creamy delicacy. Oil, butter, and cream are the three fats that go into making this dish.
This dish does not need oodles of oil, butter, and cream. Adding these does not make the dish heavy. These three ingredients are important for the luscious and creamy gravy.
Ginger & garlic: For the best flavors, I use fresh ginger garlic. You can substitute it with homemade ginger-garlic paste or store-bought readymade paste (make sure to use a fresh pack).
Spice powders: Turmeric powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, coriander powder, garam masala, and kitchen king masala.
Kitchen king masala is a key ingredient in most of the curries made in restaurants and dhabas.
Dried Kashmiri Red Chillies: This is a key ingredient for the gravy color. You can substitute it with degi mirch powder or with any mild chili powder or paprika.
Dried Fenugreek leaves: Also known as kasuri methi. This is one ingredient that you should not omit. It adds an earthy, mildly bitter taste that nicely balances out the tang from the tomatoes. Sadly, there is no substitute for it.
Cashews: It acts as a thickener. Apart from thickening the gravy, they add richness and creaminess.
Seasonings and Herbs: Salt and coriander leaves.
How to make Paneer Butter Masala
1. Heat oil in a pan over medium flame. When hot, add whole spices – bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves, green cardamom, and cumin seeds.
2. Add chopped onions and saute until they are soft.
3. Add garlic cloves, ginger, and cashews. Saute for a minute.
4. Add turmeric powder and red chili powder. Saute for 5-10 seconds.
5. Add chopped tomatoes and saute for 1 minute.
6. Add salt and continue to saute until they turn soft.
7. Add 1/4 cup of water and cook until the water reduces and oil separates on the sides of the pan. Turn off the heat.
8. Pick out the whole spices.
9. Transfer 80% of the onion tomato masala along with cashews, garlic, and ginger to the mixer jar.
10. Add a few paneer pieces and let the mixture cool completely. To speed up the process, you can use ice-cold water to blend. Blend this mixture to a smooth puree by adding water. If your blender is not powerful enough to blend to a smooth puree, then strain the puree through a strainer. Keep aside.
11. Reheat the onion tomato masala and add coriander powder and kitchen king masala. Saute for a few seconds over low flame.
12. Add the ground puree. Give a good stir and cook on medium flame until the moisture reduces and the gravy thickens. Stir frequently to prevent any sticking at the bottom of the pan. This will take 5-10 minutes depending on the consistency of the ground puree.
Be careful as the curry will splatter. To avoid any skin burn, cover the pan and cook on low flame. Stir in between.
13. Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of hot water (adjust as per desired consistency), mix well and bring to a boil.
14. Turn the flame to low and add sugar or honey, garam masala, and butter. Cook until the butter completely melts in the sauce. Check for seasonings and adjust now.
15. Add paneer pieces and give a good mix. Simmer for 2-3 minutes so that the paneer absorbs the flavors.
16. Add cream and mix well.
17. Add crushed kasuri methi and coriander leaves. Mix well and turn off the flame.
18. Restaurant style Paneer Butter Masala is ready. Serve hot or warm with flatbread or rice. Garnish the curry with cream, butter, and kasuri methi or coriander leaves.
I like to serve this delicious Creamy Paneer Butter Masala with plain basmati rice, veg pulao, jeera rice, or Indian flatbread like plain paratha, rumali roti, butter naan, lachha paratha, tandoori roti, naan, etc along with onion slices and lemon wedges on the side.
You can store the leftover in the fridge for 2-3 days. Make sure to store it in an airtight container. Reheat it in the microwave or in a pan on the stovetop until nicely warm. The gravy thickens as it cools, add little water while reheating and adjust the consistency.
If you have guests, a party, or get together, you can make the gravy without adding paneer and cream a day ahead and store it in the refrigerator. This gravy refrigerates well for about 3 to 5 days. Before serving, reheat the gravy, add in the paneer pieces and cook on low flame for a few minutes. Finish it with cream.
To store for longer, you can freeze the gravy. Cool the gravy completely and transfer it to a freezer-safe container or bag and freeze for 2-3 months. This is not a fresh option but it is the quickest way to prepare paneer butter masala.
Whenever you want to make the dish, take the base gravy container out of the freezer and thaw it on the countertop for a few hours. Heat in a pan on the stovetop and add paneer pieces and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Lastly add cream and give a mix.
Tomato sauce/ketchup: You may feel this ingredient odd but trust me it works magic in this recipe. It has a chatpata taste (a balance of sweet, tangy, and mildly spiced). It is also a secret ingredient that professional chefs add to paneer butter masala or butter chicken. Add it at the end.
Veg Butter Masala: Deep fry, grill, or parboil your favorite vegetables and cook them in the sauce.
Spicy Paneer Butter Masala: Add green chilies while making the onion tomato masala.
No onion no garlic version: Skip both the ingredients and follow rest of the recipe.
More Restaurant style Recipes
If you’ve tried this authentic Restaurant style Paneer Butter Masala Recipe, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! Feedback and suggestions are highly appreciated. Also, please share the recipes with your friends and family members.
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The Best Restaurant style Paneer Butter Masala Recipe
- 200 gms Paneer (homemade or store bought)
- 2-3 tbsp Oil
- 1 Bay leaf
- 3-4 numbers Cloves
- 1 inch Cinnamon stick
- 3-4 numbers Green Cardamom (elaichi)
- 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
- 5 cloves Garlic
- 1 inch Ginger
- 10 whole Cashews
- 1 big Onion
- 5 medium Tomatoes
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
- 1/2 tbsp Kashmiri red chili powder
- 1 tsp Coriander powder
- 1 tsp Kitchen king masala
- 1/2 tsp Garam masala
- 1/2-1 tbsp Dried Fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
- 1/4 tsp Sugar (or 1/2 tbsp honey)
- 2-3 tbsp Cream
- 1-2 tbsp Butter
- 1-2 tbsp Coriander leaves
- Salt to taste
- Soak paneer pieces in hot water for 10-15 minutes. If it is frozen, boil for 1-2 minutes.
- Heat oil in a pan over medium flame. When hot, add whole spices – bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves, green cardamom, and cumin seeds.
- Add chopped onions and saute until they are soft.
- Add garlic cloves, ginger, and cashews. Saute for a minute.
- Add turmeric powder and red chili powder. Saute for 5-10 seconds.
- Add chopped tomatoes and saute for 1 minute.
- Add salt and continue to saute until they turn soft.
- Add 1/4 cup of water and cook until the water reduces and oil separates on the sides of the pan. Turn off the heat
- Pick out the whole spices. Transfer 80% of the onion tomato masala along with cashews, garlic, and ginger to the mixer jar.
- Add a few paneer pieces and let the mixture cool completely. To speed up the process, you can use ice-cold water to blend. Blend this mixture to a smooth puree by adding water. If your blender is not powerful enough to blend to a smooth puree, then strain the puree through a strainer. Keep aside.
- Reheat the onion tomato masala and add coriander powder and kitchen king masala. Saute for a few seconds over low flame.
- Add the ground puree. Give a good stir and cook on medium flame until the moisture reduces and the gravy thickens. Stir frequently to prevent any sticking at the bottom of the pan. This will take 5-10 minutes depending on the consistency of the ground puree.
- Be careful as the curry will splatter. To avoid any skin burn, cover the pan and cook on low flame. Stir in between.
- Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of hot water (adjust as per desired consistency), mix well and bring to a boil.
- Turn the flame to low and add sugar or honey, garam masala, and butter. Cook until the butter completely melts in the sauce. Check for seasonings and adjust now.
- Add paneer pieces and give a good mix. Simmer for 2-3 minutes so that the paneer absorbs the flavors.
- Add cream and mix well.
- Add crushed kasuri methi and coriander leaves. Mix well and turn off the flame.
- Restaurant style Paneer Butter Masala is ready. Serve hot or warm with flatbread or rice. Garnish the curry with cream, butter, and kasuri methi or coriander leaves.
Is Paneer Butter Masala spicy?
Typically, it has a mild to medium level of spiciness, but you can increase or decrease the amount of chili powder or green chilies to suit your taste.
Can Paneer Butter Masala be made without onion and garlic?
Yes, Paneer Butter Masala can be made without onion and garlic. You can omit these ingredients and adjust