Paneer Butter Masala or Paneer Makhani, literally means paneer cooked in a buttery rich sauce. Paneer is Indian cottage cheese. It’s a vegetarian variation of the popular north-Indian dish called Butter Chicken. I use fresh or store bought paneer (Indian cottage cheese), and simmer it in tomato puree, seasoned with toasted and ground garam masala. A touch of heavy cream brings this dish to life. The original dish was created in the 1950s by the chef of a super popular restaurant in New Delhi, called ‘Moti Mahal Delux’.
Traditional Recipe versus Quick & Easy Recipe
The traditional recipe for Paneer Butter Masala/Paneer Makhani involves one extra step. I marinate the paneer in yogurt and garam masala, grill it, and then simmer it in a tomato-cream sauce. But in this recipe I have skipped that step and made it a one-pot recipe using my Instant Pot, with the same incredible taste. The key is cutting paneer into small, bite-size cubes so that they absorb the flavors of the sauce, and, a little extra garam masala to compensate for the flavors lost in skipping marination. This is one of the tastiest, and most requested Indian vegetarian recipes by my kids.
Is Paneer Makhani the same as Paneer Tikka Masala?
Paneer Butter Masala/Paneer Makhani is the most popular vegetarian entree at any Indian restaurant. It’s very similar to Paneer Tikka Masala, which was a variation of this recipe, created in the UK. Everyone has their take on both these recipes, but to me, the big difference is the use of onion. To make the Tikka Masala curry I start by sautéing onions with tomatoes and aromatics. Whereas, I skip the onion when making the Butter Masala or the Makhani curry. I also add more garam masala in the Tikka Masala curry. That makes it a bit more spicier than the Makhani Curry.
Serving Suggestion for Paneer Butter Masala/Paneer Makhani
Paneer Butter Masala/Paneer Makhani goes great with naan, roti and any preparation of basmati rice. I like to pair this rich and creamy curry with Spinach Rice. The buttery soft spinach and aromatic basmati rice compliment this Paneer Butter Masala really well. It feels like a restaurant style Indian meal, in the comfort of my home. I also pair it with Cumin Rice sometimes and the combination is simply delicious!