Hi there. Here I am again with a delicious surprise for all the vegetarians out there. Paneer or Indian cottage cheese is something that vegetarians think is magic. Paneer is the great source of protein for those who follow a strict vegetarian diet. But vegetarian does not have to mean boring. Like basmati rice, paneer is one ingredient that is meant for absorbing flavors from the spices that are added to it. The flavours team up excellently with the inherent creaminess of paneer.
Paneer Tikka Masala is yet another classic dish which has its origin in Punjab. It consists of grilled paneer and veggies cooked in rich and spicy sauce. Previously I shared the recipe of Paneer Butter Masala. I intend to share the recipe of Kadhai Paneer soon. You might have noticed that there are many ingredients that are common for the 3 recipes I just mentioned. However, each recipe turns out to be unique and equally stunning. The difference stems from the fact that each of the recipe has different dominant spices. Paneer Tikka Masala is all about the tang from chat masala, earthiness from garam masala and hotness from red chilies.
Some of us have often given the idea of making Paneer Tikka at home a pass, mainly because we do not have an oven. Well, I don’t have an oven at the moment. But I made perfect paneer tikkas laced with the characteristic smokey flavor. I used the tawa / griddle to roast the tikkas and then hovered them for a minute over the direct flame of the stove to get the char and smokiness. The tikkas then go into the gravy. Voila! You can now taste heaven on your plate!
Let us see how to make Paneer Tikka Masala. I would suggest you cut the paneer into big chunks. I coudn’t find the block of paneer. So I bought a pack of diced paneer. The dices were bite-size but still doable.
For the Paneer Tikkas
- Paneer / Cottage Cheese – 300 grams, diced
- Capsicum – 1 large, diced
- Onion – 1 large, diced
- Tomato – 1 large, deseeded and diced
- Oil – As required, for roasting
- Hung curd – 100 grams
- Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tbsp
- Oil – 1 tbsp
- Red chili powder – 1 tbsp
- Garam Masala – 1/2 tbsp
- Chat Masala – 1 tbsp
- Jeera Powder – 1 tbsp
- Turmeric Powder – 1/3 tbsp
- Coriander Powder – 1 tbsp
- Kasoori Methi – Lightly roasted and crushed, 1 tsp
- Lime Juice – 2 tbsp
- Salt – To taste
How to Make Paneer Tikkas
- Put the diced paneer in sufficient amount of warm water for 10 minutes. This will make the paneer very soft. Remove the paneer from water and transfer it onto a plate.
- While dicing the tomatoes, make sure you cut of the soft seedy part of its center. Otherwise, it will ooze out the juices and make the marinade watery.
- Prepare the smooth marinade by mixing well the ingredients mentioned under the ‘marinade’.
- Add the dices of paneer, onion, tomato and capsicum to the marinade and allow it to rest for 2 to 3 hours.
- After 2 to 3 hours of marination, the paneer and the veggies will have nicely absorbed the flavors of the spices.
- Take a satay stick and arrange the paneer and the veggies on it. I couldn’t find satay stick. So I used a makeshift food-grade stainless steel rod. Heat a non-stick tawa / griddle and drizzle some oil over it. You can also use a grill pan. Let the oil get really hot.
- Place the satay stick loaded with paneer and veggies on the tawa / grill pan and allow it to cook for 2 minutes till it gets a golden color. Turn it around and cook the other side of the tikkas as well. The paneer and the veggies must have an even golden color throughout.
- Now remove the tikkas from the tawa and hold it over direct flame of the gas stove for 30 to 60 seconds. Rotate it gently over the fire to get a nice char and smokiness. Keep the flame on medium. I couldn’t click the pictures of roasting the tikkas over direct flame because I was single-handed. But it is a really easy thing to do. Just try not to burn anything.
- Place the tikkas on a plate. Repeat the procedure with the remaining paneer and veggies.
- Melt-in-the-mouth paneer tikkas are ready.
- The marinade of the paneer tikka which is had as a starter also contains roasted gram flour. But since we are going to add the tikka to the gravy, we do not need to add any gram flour.
- If you are using the oven, grill the paneer and veggies at 180 degrees for 7 to 8 minutes.
- Reserve the leftover yogurt marinade. It adds the real zing to the gravy.
For Making the Gravy
- Onion – 2 large, finely chopped
- Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tbsp
- Tomato – 2 large, blanched and chopped
- Kashmiri chili powder – 1 tsp
- Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
- Coriander powder – 1 tsp
- Garam Masala – 1/2 tsp
- Salt – To taste
- Ginger – 1/2 inch, julienned
- Green chilies – 3, slit lengthwise
- Water – 100 ml
- Cashew nuts – 15
- Fresh cream – 4 tbsp (60 ml, add some more if you want)
- Kasoori methi – 1 tsp, lightly roasted and crushed
- Chopped cilantro – For garnish
- Lime juice – 1 tsp
- Oil – 3 tbsp
How to Make Paneer Tikka Masala Gravy
- We first need to prepare the tomatoes and cashew nut paste. Drop the tomatoes in boiling water for 3-4 minutes till their skin cracks. Remove the tomatoes onto a plate and allow them to cool off. Peel off the skin. Chop the tomatoes finely.
- Soak cashew nuts in some hot water for an hour. Grind them to a smooth paste with very little water. Keep aside.
- Heat oil in a pan or skillet. Drop in the chopped onions and fry them till they turn golden brown.
- Add in the ginger and garlic paste and sauté it for a minute till the raw smell goes away.
- Add in the blanched, chopped tomatoes and salt. Cook the tomatoes till they turn very mushy. Add in a spoonful of water and cover the skillet with a lid. This will help the tomato cook thoroughly, which will yield a nice texture for the gravy.
- Add the in dry spice powders, i.e., kashmiri chili powder, turmeric powder, garam masala and coriander powder. Mix well and sauté the spices for a minute.
- Add in the leftover yogurt marinade, slit green chilies and julienned ginger and sauté for 2 more minutes. Sautéing enhances the flavors. So, please be a little patient.
- Add in some water, around 100 ml and bring it to boil.
- Add in the cashew nut paste and combine everything well. Sauté the mixture so that the cashew nut paste gets nicely roasted and releases the flavors. The oil will now begin to separate from the gravy.
- It’s time to add cream. Now you will see how drastically the gravy changes. Adjust the salt at this stage.
- Toss in the grilled paneer and veggies and kasoori methi. Stir around everything very gently.
- We do not need to cook the paneer and veggies for long. Otherwise, the paneer will lose its softness and turn rubbery and the veggies will become soggy.
- Finish it off with a dash of lime and chopped cilantro. You can sprinkle a pinch of garam masala if you like.
Paneer tikka masala is ready to be served. Serve it steaming hot with naan, rotis or jeera rice. I am sure you will love this recipe to the core. It involves a bit of hard work. Not to brag but the moment you taste this delicious creamy paneer tikka masala, it will be like tasting heaven!
Tip : Grill the paneer and veggies simultaneously as you make the gravy, so that you can add them to the gravy as soon as possible. This will ensure the veggies stay crisp.