Paneer Tikka Masala

Paneer Tikka Masala

Prep Time : 1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time : 30 mins
Total Time : 2 hrs


For marination

  • 250 to 300 grams Paneer (cottage cheese) – cut into cubes or squares
  • 1 medium bell pepper or capsicum – diced (green, red, yellow)
  • 1 medium onion – halved and the layers removed
  • 6 tablespoons Hung Curd or greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger Garlic Paste – or 3 to 4 small to medium garlic cloves and 1 inch ginger crushed to a smooth paste in mortar-pestle
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice or lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder or deghi mirch or red chili powder or cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon Coriander Powder – optional
  • ½ teaspoon Garam Masala or tandoori masala powder
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 to 3 pinches nutmeg powder or grated nutmeg
  • 1 generous pinch crushed saffron or saffron powder – optional
  • 1 tablespoon gram flour (besan) or corn-starch
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons oil for brushing – only if grilling or baking
  • ½ teaspoon salt or as required
  • 4 tablespoons oil for pan frying

For blanching

  • water as required – for blanching
  • 1 pinch salt for blanching
  • 2 medium onions or 1 large onion or 100 grams onion – peeled and halved
  • 3 medium tomatoes or 200 grams tomatoes

Other ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon Ginger Garlic Paste or 3 to 4 small to medium garlic cloves + 1 inch ginger crushed in a mortar-pestle to a paste
  • 2 to 2.5 tablespoons fresh full fat curd (yogurt) – whisked well till smooth
  • 2 tablespoon oil or 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander Powder (ground coriander)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder – optional
  • ½ teaspoon Garam Masala
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder or kashmiri red chili powder or deghi mirch
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon crushed kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
  • ½ cup water or add as required
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons low fat cream – 25% to 35% low fat or 1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • salt as required
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • few coriander leaves (cilantro leaves) – for garnish


Marinating paneer

  • Whisk the hung curd or greek yogurt till smooth in a large bowl. You can also use a really thick curd instead of hung curd.
  • Add all the ginger-garlic paste, spice powders, lemon juice, corn starch or gram flour & salt. Mix well.
  • Add the paneer cubes, onions, bell pepper.
  • Gently mix again so that the marination coats the paneer, onions and bell peppers evenly. Cover the bowl & marinate for a minimum of 1 hour or overnight in the refrigerator.

Oven method

  • Line a baking tray or pan with aluminum foil. This method makes its easier to clean the pan later.
  • Thread the paneer cubes on a bamboo or metal skewers and place them on the prepared pan. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (390 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least 10 minutes before you grill the paneer cubes. 
  • For a regular oven, keep only the top heating element on and keep the pan in the top rack. For a microwave oven use the convection mode and preheat at 180 degrees celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Brush about 1 to 2 teaspoons oil evenly on the paneer and bell pepper cubes.
  • Grill the skewered paneer cubes & veggies in a preheated oven at 200 degrees Celsius (390 degrees Fahrenheit) for a total of 15 to 20 minutes (depending on the oven temperatures). While grilling remove halfway, turn over and then continue to grill.
  • Just keep an eye when the paneer is getting grilled in the oven. For a microwave oven in the convection mode, use 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit).

Pan frying method

  • Heat about 1 to 2 tablespoons oil in a pan. Place the threaded paneer cubes and veggies with the skewers on the pan.
  • Gently rotate the skewers, when one side is crisp and browned. Keep on rotating till all the sides are browned. Add more oil if required, while frying. Keep the fried paneer cubes and veggies aside.

Blanching and making puree

  • Boil water with a pinch of salt. Add halved onions and tomatoes to the boiling water. Cook for one or two minutes. Switch off. Cover and keep aside for 15 to 20 minutes. 
  • You can also add cashews to the hot water. Adding cashews gives a creamier consistency with a nice sweetness. Later drain and chop the onions and tomatoes roughly. Its not necessary to blanch, but blanching reduces the cooking time later.
  • Later chop the onions roughly and make a smooth fine paste in a grinder or blender.
  • Peel and roughly chop the tomatoes. Make a smooth puree of the tomatoes in the grinder or blender. Keep both the onion & tomato puree aside.
  • Whisk or beat the yogurt till smooth and keep aside. There should be no lumps in the yogurt and it should be beaten well.

Making gravy or sauce

  • In the same pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil and then add the onion paste.
  • Stir often and saute till the onions paste turns golden.
  • Add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for some seconds till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away.
  • Add the tomato puree. Stir well and saute till you see fat leaving sides of the masala.
  • Now add all the dry spice powders – turmeric, red chili powder, coriander powder and garam masala or tandoori masala.
  • Stir well so that the spices are incorporated in the masala paste evenly.
  • Now remove the pan from the fire. Add beaten fresh curd (yogurt). Removing the pan from fire, won’t allow the yogurt to curdle. Use full fat and fresh curd.
  • Stir well. Add water and salt. Stir again.
  • Simmer for 5 to 6 minutes or till the gravy thickens and you see fat floating on the top. You can keep the consistency from medium to slightly thick. The consistency can be altered by adding more or less water.
  • Add cream and kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves). Stir well and simmer on a low flame for a minute. Check the taste and add more salt or cream if you prefer. You can also about ½ to 1 tsp of sugar for a light sweet taste.
  • Then add the grilled or pan-fried paneer and veggies cubes. Switch off the heat and mix well.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves & serve Paneer Tikka Masala with some naan, roti or jeera rice.

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