Paneer Masala recipe | Dhaba style Paneer Masala
Rustic, Delicious, and Flavorful Dhaba style Paneer Masala recipe with step-by-step pics. With tips and secrets in this recipe, you can bring the essence of Dhaba-style taste to your dining table.
I’m excited to share the recipe, as it is my first Dhaba-style recipe on the blog. I’ve already shared a few restaurant-style paneer recipes on the blog. Unlike those recipes, this paneer recipe is without cashews or cream.
Instead, the recipe has one special ingredient which is common in Dhaba-style dishes.
Make your meal outstanding with this lip-smacking Paneer Masala. Serve as a side dish with any Indian bread or rice variety.
Paneer is an absolute boon to vegetarians. It is the best alternative to vegetables. Packed with nutritional benefits, it is a superfood. It is a favorite of non-vegetarians too.
What is Paneer Masala?
Paneer Masala translates to Paneer cubes simmered in a thick masala. Paneer pieces are coated with aromatic, flavorful, and a finger-licking masala of onion-tomato and basic Indian spices.
This dish is popular in North India, Punjabi cuisine to be specific. As the dish is not loaded with cream and butter, it’s a lot lighter yet filling.
It is also one of the most loved dishes at a Dhaba – roadside eateries on the highway.
Difference between Paneer Masala and Paneer Butter Masala
Paneer Masala is made by simmering paneer cubes in an onion tomato masala along with basic Indian spices. Cashews and cream are not added to this dish.
Paneer Butter Masala is made by cooking paneer pieces in a rich and creamy onion, tomatoes, and cashews gravy/sauce. The dish is loaded with cream and butter.
Dhaba style Paneer Masala recipe
Making this dish at home is a piece of cake, but needs a bit of patience. time and patience. You just need a one-pot to cook. Check the pro tips, I’ve shared all the tips to make a perfect Dhaba style Paneer Masala.
You can make the paneer masala dish dry or gravy. Adjust the spices as per your preference from mild to medium to spicy.
The paneer sabji has a nice aroma from the garam masala powder and kasuri methi/dry fenugreek leaves. For me, this is an ideal recipe, whenever I crave to eat something different.
Reasons to try this recipe
Quick and Easy to make.
No fancy ingredients.
Can make this dish anytime, on weekdays or weekends.
Paneer is covered with a masaledar and aromatic gravy.
For non-vegetarians, this won’t even make you miss your meat.
Ingredients to make Paneer Masala
This paneer curry is super simple and quick to prepare with ingredients easily available in any Indian pantry.
Paneer: Homemade or store-bought. If the paneer is frozen, make sure to soak it in warm water until it’s completely soft (20-30 mins).
Oil, Ghee & Butter: The combination enhances the taste.
Whole spices: Bay leaf, Cumin seeds, Cloves, Cinnamon, Green Cardamoms.
Spice Powders: Turmeric powder, Red chili powder, Kashmiri Red Chili powder, Coriander powder, Kitchen King masala, and Garam Masala.
Onion & Tomato puree: For the base of the curry.
Besan/Chickpea flour: To thicken the gravy.
Kasuri methi/Dry Fenugreek leaves:
Curd: Fresh yogurt or curd.
Ginger Garlic paste: Homemade or store-bought.
Others: Coriander leaves, Salt, a pinch of Sugar.
How to make Paneer Masala
1.Heat oil and ghee in a pan or kadhai. When hot add the whole spices, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves, green cardamom, and cumin seeds. Fry them for a few seconds.
2. Add finely chopped onions. On medium flame fry till they turn light brown color.
3. Add ginger-garlic paste and fry till the raw smell goes away.
4. Turn the flame to low and add besan.
5. Next, add red chili powder, kashmiri red chili powder, coriander powder, kitchen king masala, besan, and salt. Fry for a min or two till aromatic.
6. Now add tomato puree.
7. On medium flame fry till water evaporated and oil separates on the sides.
8. Again, turn the flame to low and add whisked curd. Stir continuously till oil separates.
9. Turn the flame to high and add water. Mix well and let it come to a boil.
10. Add paneer pieces and mix well. Cover the pan and simmer on low flame for 5 minutes.
11. Check the consistency of the gravy and adjust accordingly. Check for salt and add more if required.
12. Add butter, garam masala, a pinch of sugar and kasuri methi (crush between palms). Give a good mix. Simmer again for 2 minutes
Paneer Masala is ready. Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot with rotis or naan or jeera rice.
Use ripe and red tomatoes: They give bright red color to the curry. Also, they are less sour compared to local tomatoes.
Roasting the onion-tomato masala or bhuno method: One of the secrets of Dhaba’s taste is cooking the onion-tomato masala very well. It is a time taking process, so do not skip this step. Because of besan, the masala may stick if the pan is not a nonstick. So, keep stiring the masala and if it sticks, add little water and continue cooking.
Roast the besan on low flame: If roasted on high flame, besan will burn.
Use fresh curd: Make sure curd is not sour, it will spoil the taste of the dish.
Whisk the curd and cook on low flame: If you add curd on high flame and mix, it will curdle.
Kashmiri red chili powder: It imparts nice red color to the dish. Also, is the best alternative to food color.
Do not skip kasuri methi: It is a key ingredient in dhaba and restaurant dishes which gives a delicious flavor. Always crush it between your palms before adding it to the curry.
A pinch of Sugar: It is added to balance the sourness of the tomatoes.
Do not simmer the paneer for a long time. It will make the texture hard.
More Vegetarian recipes
Let the paneer curry cool completely. Transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the fridge for 2-3 days.
How to reheat? The gravy will thicken when refrigerated. Add little water while reheating. Transfer the curry to a microwave-safe container and microwave until the curry is warm/hot. Stir occasionally so that the dish gets heated thoroughly.
You can also reheat the leftover on the stovetop. Transfer the curry to a pan, add little water, and heat on medium flame. Stir well and cook until the gravy starts to bubble from the sides. Turn off the flame and serve hot.
Can I freeze Paneer Masala?
Yes, you can. Instead, I will suggest a better option. Freeze the onion tomato masala gravy without paneer. The gravy stays good for 2-3 months in the freezer.
Whenever you want to make the dish, thaw the gravy on the kitchen counter for a few hours. Reheat the sauce, until you see bubbles on the sides of the pan and add paneer pieces to it.
How to serve Paneer Masala?
It is an incredibly versatile dish – you can eat it the traditional way with roti, phulkas, naan, parathas, or rice varieties like Vegetable Pulao, Jeera rice.
You can also enjoy it on a pizza, in a calzone, or as a stuffing for kathi roll and sandwich.
The onion-tomato based gravy is a multi-purpose gravy. So, you can use it to make any other vegetables or hard-boiled eggs, or even meat. Green peas can be added along with paneer to make Dhaba style Matar paneer.
Tried this authentic Paneer Masala? Let us know how it went in the comments below! You can also follow me on Instagram to see what’s latest in my kitchen!
Paneer Masala recipe | Dhaba style Paneer Masala
- 100 gms Paneer (homemade or store bought)
- 2 tpsn Oil
- 1 tbspn Ghee (Clarified butter)
- 2 medium Bay leaf (Tej Patta)
- 1 inch Cinnamon stick (Dalchini)
- 2-3 Cloves (Lavang)
- 2 Green Cardamom (Hari Elaichi)
- 1/2 Cumin seeds (Jeera)
- 2 medium Onions (finely chopped)
- 1 tbspn Ginger garlic paste
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
- 1 tsp Red chili powder
- 1 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
- 2 tsp Coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp Kitchen King masala (any brand)
- 1 tbspn Gram flour (Besan)
- 3 medium Tomatoes (puree)
- 2 tbspn Curd (fresh)
- 1 tsp Kasuri methi
- 1/2 tsp Garam masala
- 1 tbspn Butter
- Salt to taste
- Heat oil and ghee in a pan or kadhai.
- When hot add the whole spices, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves, green cardamom, and cumin seeds. Fry them for a few seconds.
- Add finely chopped onions. On medium flame fry till they turn light brown color.
- Add ginger-garlic paste and fry till the raw smell goes away.
- Turn the flame to low and add red chili powder, kashmiri red chili powder, coriander powder, kitchen king masala, besan, and salt. Fry for a min or two till aromatic.
- Now add tomato puree. On medium flame fry till water evaporated and oil separates on the sides.
- Again, turn the flame to low and add whisked curd. Stir continuously till oil separates.
- Now add water. Mix well and let it come to a boil.
- Add paneer pieces and mix well.
- Cover the pan and simmer on low flame for 5 minutes.
- Check for salt and add more if required.
- Add butter, garam masala, a pinch of sugar and kasuri methi (crush between palms). Give a good mix. Simmer again for 2 minutes
- Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot with rotis or naan.