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!
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Paneer butter masala or paneer makhani is vegetarian variation of Butter Chicken. Made with paneer or Indian cottage cheese simmered in tomato puree, Indian spices, and finished with a touch of heavy cream.
- 10 oz. block of paneer cubed in 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or light olive oil
- 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste (1 inch ginger, 6 cloves garlic, pulsed/grated)
- 14 oz. (1 can) diced tomatoes or 3-4 ripe Roma tomatoes, pureed. (canned is better for this recipe)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon Red Chili Powder
- 2 teaspoons Smoked Paprika
- 2-3 teaspoons Garam Masala depending on your spice preferences
- 1 tablespoon Coriander Powder
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream OR, Full-Fat Coconut milk for dairy Free option
- 1 tablespoon Dried Fenugreek Leaves / Kasoori Methi (optional)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
Turn Instant pot on SAUTE. Turning saute will warm everything through while we assemble the recipe, and reduce the pressure building time. Add oil, ginger garlic paste, tomato sauce and spices. I puree diced tomatoes, but you can also use ripe tomatoes and puree them. Stir well. Close the lid. Cancel SAUTE. Pressure cook for 4 minutes on Manual/pressure Cook. Vent set to Sealing position.
Manually release the pressure by turning the vent to 'Venting' position (QR). Open the lid after the pin drops. Add paneer cubes, dried fenugreek leaves (Kasoori Methi), sugar and heavy whipping cream (or coconut milk), and turn on SAUTE. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, till paneer softens and sauce thickens to your liking. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates. If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.
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