Paneer Tikka Masala

This is no internet researched rehashed recipe. My grandmother did not hand me this recipe. She never made Paneer Tikka of course, she made adhirasam, urundai kuzhambu and kola uzhundai.   ‘Cos we’re hip-hop Tamizha. Still this Paneer tikka masala tastes absolutely fabulous and is as close as it can get to the Paneer Tikka that I’ve tasted in really good restaurants. I used Madhur Jafferey’s recipe for the marinade from her famous curry nation book. The gravy, I made up by myself and it’s not rocket science but I was thrilled to be able to replicate the restaurant style perfectly rounded, creamy gravy. You know how the restaurant gravies have that well rounded taste that’s ever so slightly sweet with no jagged spicy edges – well this paneer tikka masala fits that bill. It’s brilliant.

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I served this paneer tikka with poori (that’s because of a strange family handicap that makes poori ok, but roti/chappathi not okay) but it goes best with chappathi/phulka or pulav. Marinate the paneer for 4 hours or overnight for the best results. I just toasted the paneer pieces on a tawa before adding them to the gravy. You could grill them in an oven or in a barbecure if you wish.

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Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins
Marinating time: 4 hours or overnight
Serves: 4


Paneer/Cottage Cheese – 200 gm cut into cubes
Red chilli powder/Degi mirch powder – 1-1/2 tsp
Cumin powder – ½ tsp
Turmeric – ¼ tsp
Salt to taste
Garam Masala powder – ¾ tsp
Sugar – 1-1/2 tsp (adjust)
Cream – 2 tbsp (optional)
Oil – 3 tbsp

Ingredients – gravy

Onions – 2 large chopped roughly
Tomatoes – 2 large chopped roughly
Ginger – 1 inch piece chopped
Garlic – 6 large cloves
Cinnamon stick – 1 inch piece

Ingredients – Marinade

Fresh Cream – 3 tbsp
Ginger-Garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Turmeric – ¼ tsp
Garam Masala powder – ½ tsp
Cumin powder – ¾ tsp


1.      Whisk together all ingredients under marinade in a bowl. Drop in the paneer cubes and mix well so that the paneer pieces are nicely coated in the masala. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

2.      In a kadai/wok, heat 1 tbsp oil and when hot add the cinnamon stick. Then add the ingredients under “gravy” – ginger, garlic and roughly chopped onions. Fry till the onions turn translucent. Then add the tomatoes and cook till the tomatoes turn soft – about 5 minutes. The onions and garlic would start to colour. Switch off. Let cool slightly. Blend in a mixer to a smooth puree.

3.      Transfer the puree back to the wok. Add about half a cup of water. Add in the red chilli powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder and salt and mix well. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or till the oil separates.

4.      Meanwhile toast the marinated paneer pieces on a tawa/pan adding 2 tbsp oil to the tawa. Flip over after 1-2 minutes making sure the paneer pieces are nicely browned around the edges. Remove on to a plate.

5.      When the oil separates from the gravy, add in garam masala powder and sugar. Taste and adjust seasoning. Drop in the toasted paneer pieces and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Switch off. Stir in the fresh cream. Serve hot with roti, phulka, poori or pulav.


1.      While simmering the gravy, wait for the oil to separate. It’s important.

2.      Adding garam masala at the end just 2-3 minutes before switching off, keeps the aroma intact.

3.      I also like to stir in a small piece of butter (about a tsp) towards the end just before switching off. The butter gives the gravy a nice sheen and a lovely richness. It is totally optional.

4.      You can toast the paneer pieces on a tawa or grill in an oven for 10-12 minutes – just until it’s browned nicely.
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  1. Padmapriya Pugazhendhi says:

    Paneer is one of my all time favourites. Any time I order a curry or starter in restaurants, it will be 90% a paneer based dish. I love the color of your curry and the paneer in it seems to be so soft. Want to grab a piece from it 🙂

  2. nsangheetha says:

    I have done Panner Masala before but yesterday when I made it, I added water as you have suggested in Step3. It is a good tip,always I have stirred the masala without water and adding oil spoon after spoon reluctantly. Also it catches in the bottom. With water, it cooked well and I was able to go on with other chores. The gravy tasted better.

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