Easy Butter Paneer Masala
What is Butter Paneer?
Mmmm… paneer butter masala. Is there a more simple, classic and comforting Indian dish?
Butter Paneer Masala, also often called Shahi Paneer or Paneer Makhani, is simply the vegetarian version of India’s cult classic Butter Chicken. Most Indian restaurants even use the same rich, creamy tomato-y sauce for both dishes (Butter Paneer and Butter Chicken). This easy butter paneer recipe is seriously one of the best and truly a favourite in our home.
Paneer is simply a fresh Indian cheese kinda sorta similar to cottage cheese, feta or halloumi.
It is chewy, milky, a little “bounce-y”, and super addictive.
Is it obvious? I adore paneer to an extent that borders on irrational.
In Butter Paneer, paneer is quickly simmered in an insanely delicious sauce made with tomatoes, cream and rich spices. It sucks up the rich, buttery sauce and makes the world a better place.
My Butter Paneer recipe includes ground almonds, which imparts richness and flavour (and even a pleasant texture, if your blender is not super high-powered). Serve it with naan or hot basmati rice, and make more than you think you’ll need 😉
I have a Vitamix which is why my sauce is super-smooth and paler orange in colour – pureeing tomatoes in it lightens the hue more than it would with a lower-power blender, because more air is whipped in.
Where to Find Paneer
Paneer is quite easy to make at home – it’s made simply by adding lemon juice to boiled milk, then straining and pressing.
If you want to DIY, you can hop on over to my homemade paneer recipe here – How to Make Paneer at Home: My Foolproof Step-by-Step Guide.
If you’re looking for a quicker option, not to worry – it’s pretty easily accessible in most well-stocked grocery stores, and definitely any Indian grocer.
If not making it myself, I look for a package with minimal additives (like carrageenan, guar gum, etc.).
How to Make Butter Paneer
Making homemade butter paneer really only requires a few simple steps.
Here’s how to make easy butter paneer:
- Caramelize onions in a saucepan or dutch oven. This is where an important part of the flavour is developed, so take your time.
- Stir in garlic, ginger and some Indian spices. Warming the spices gently for a few moments develops them more deeply and makes them more fragrant.
- Add diced tomatoes and almonds and simmer. This step allows them to soften and the flavours to meld.
- Add cream and blend the mixture. Puréeing the sauce creates a creamy, dreamy smooth and rich gravy.
- Add sauce back to pan to simmer and add paneer. It only takes a few minutes to simmer gently and before you know it, the paneer will be full of creamy rich flavour.
If you haven’t noticed, love vegetarian Indian food. You know this already if you’ve been hanging around here for a while (and if you have, thank you! I <3 you!). My hubby is Indian, so exploring India and Indian food has been a long-time passion. To that end, here’s a few more of my love-filled, and flavour-packed creations I think you may like.
More Vegetarian Indian Recipes
- 4 tbsp butter
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
- 1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 tbsp garam masala
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp coarse salt
- 2 cups diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup blanched almonds plus more for topping
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 400 grams paneer cut in cubes
- Chopped cilantro and sliced optional, for garnish
- Heat butter over medium heat in a large saucepan or dutch oven. Add onions and slowly cook until golden, about 20 minutes, reducing heat if they are getting crispy or browning quickly. This is an important flavour-building step, don't rush it!
- Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in garam masala, paprika, cinnamon and salt; cook 1 minute more. Add tomatoes and almonds; cook 2 minutes, then add cream and carefully puree using an immersion blender (or standing blender, but do it in batches or the steam will blow the top off).
- Return sauce to saucepan and bring to a simmer. Gently stir in paneer and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Top with cilantro and additional almonds, if desired.