Must-Read Article on What Is Paneer Makhani

If you like traditional Indian food and like to try new dishes, you’ve come to the right place. This article discusses one of the best traditional Indian dishes that can become your next favorite. So, let’s discuss what is Paneer Makhani in detail without beating around the bush.

What is Paneer Makhani?

Paneer Makhani is a delicate traditional Indian dish that’s made with Paneer cubes in a creasy and rich butter-tomato sauce. Paneer translates to “Indian Cottage Cheese” and the word Makhani is derived from “Makhan”, which means “butter”.

It’s one of the most delicious foods that belong to Indian cuisine, and it’s made of simple yet healthy ingredients. Of course, different people make this delightful dish differently, but the ingredients almost always remain the same.

A Brief History of Paneer Makhani

The spectacular Paneer Makhani curry is adapted from butter chicken, which is also known as Murgh Makhani. The butter chicken (Indian chicken curry) was invented by chef Kundan Lal Gujral in Delhi in Moti Mahal Restaurant back in 1948.

He accidentally mixed leftover dry chicken tandoori with curry to reuse it, and he ended up with a delicious curry, which is now known as Paneer Makhani. It’s now commonly served in almost all north Indian restaurants.

While the makhani gravy is used to make countless types of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, the Paneer Makhani recipe is one of the most popular vegetarian versions. We hope this helps you understand “what is Paneer Makhani”.

Paneer Makhani

How Paneer Makhani is Made?

Now that you understand what is Paneer Makhani, let’s discuss how this delicious dish is made. Traditionally, Paneer Makhani is made with Indian cheese, butter, cream, spices, cashews, almonds, and tomatoes. The average cooking time of this recipe is about 25 to 30 minutes.

You can also make this makhani gravy without using cashew or almonds if you want to keep things simple. However, if you’re going to go with the vegan version, you’ll need to use vegan cream and use firm tofu instead of paneer to enjoy almost the same taste. Pregnant women may also wonder: “is paneer cheese pasteurized?”.

Each ingredient in the recipe offers its own unique taste. The following are the essential ingredients in Paneer Makhani along with the reasons why they’re used.


Ripe tomatoes are used in Paneer Makhani, and they make the gravy sour and tangy. In order to achieve the best taste, it’s advisable to use Roma tomatoes. Using wine-ripe or beefsteak tomatoes make the recipe too sour. 


As mentioned, Makhan which is also known as white butter is used to make traditional Paneer Makhani. However, you can also use other butter types such as Irish butter. If you’re vegetarian, you can also use vegan butter for this recipe. Butter provides Paneer Makhani with a rich and creamy texture. 

Cashew and Almonds

Most people use cashew and almonds to make Paneer Makhani, but you can also skip these ingredients if you want. Both cashew and almonds add extra thickness and richness to the gravy of this recipe. 


Usually, fresh dairy cream or “Malai” is used in Paneer Makhani. However, you can use any type of cream to enjoy extra creamy consistency. 

Kashmiri Red Chili Powder

Using Kashmiri red chili powder along with regular red chili powder provides Paneer Makhani with bright and delicious red color. When the Kashmiri red chili powder gets mixed with other ingredients such as butter and cream, the gravy becomes orangy-red and doesn’t feel too spicy. 


Paneer or Indian cottage cheese is the main ingredient of this recipe that you can easily buy from the frozen section of pretty much any grocery store. There are multiple brands that offer paneer, and many people even use their own homemade paneer to make this recipe.

Paneer Makhani has become a staple food of Indian celebrations. You’ll find it in anniversaries, marriages, birthday parties, and so on. Better yet, you’ll find it on the menus of almost all the Indian vegetarian restaurants.

  • It’s extremely delicious food that triggers the taste buds of both non-vegetarian and vegetarian people alike.
  • It uses minimal ingredients and it’s very easy to make.
  • It’s an incredibly versatile dish that can be served with Indian flatbreads or basmati rice.
  • It offers a unique and irresistible aroma and taste.
  • It doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients.
  • Unlike other Indian dishes, it’s not spicy food.

What Is in Paneer Makhani?

The main ingredients of Paneer Makhani are tomatoes, butter, spices, and cream. Other than that, most people use the following ingredients to make this delicious Indian dish.

  • Onions
  • Garlic ginger paste
  • Cashew
  • Almonds
  • Red chilli powder
  • Bay leaf (Tej Patta)
  • Kashmiri red chili powder
  • Salt
  • Fenugreek leaves

What Is the Difference between Paneer Tikka Masala and Paneer Makhani?

Both Paneer Tikka Masala and Paneer Makhani have tomato-based gravy that contains a lot of butter. However, Paneer Makhani offers a mildly sweet taste whereas the Paneer Tikka Masala is a more robust dish made in a spicier tomato-onion gravy and paneer cubes marinated in grilled yogurt.

Is Paneer Makhani Gluten Free?

Generally, the Paneer Makhani is a gluten-free recipe, but it depends on your ingredients. You’ll need to make sure that you use gluten-free ingredients, including oil and butter. Instead of serving it with naan, paratha, or Indian flatbreads, you can serve it with steamed basmati rice or jeera rice to keep everything gluten-free.

How to Make Masala for Paneer Makhani?

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Oil: 2 teaspoons
  • Cinnamon stick: 1 inch
  • Bay leaf (Tej Patta): 1
  • Ginger: 1 inch
  • Garlic cloves: 6 – 7
  • White onion: 1 – 2
  • Water: 1.5 cup
  • Cashew: 10 -15
  • Almonds: 10 – 15
  • Ripe tomatoes: 3 – 4
  • Butter: 2 tablespoons
  • Kashmiri chilli powder: ½ teaspoon
  • Red chilli powder: ½ teaspoon
  • Garam masala powder: ½ teaspoon
  • Cardamom powder: ¼ teaspoon
  • Sugar: 1 teaspoon
  • A pinch of salt
  • Cream: 3 – 4 tablespoons
  • Paneer: 250 grams
  • Crushed Kasuri methi: 2 teaspoons

Instructions to Follow:

  1. Soak 10 to 15 cashews and the same quantity of almonds in a hot water cup for 25 to 30 minutes. As these nuts are soaking, prepare other ingredients like ginger garlic paste, and chopping tomatoes.
  2. Crush 6-7 garlic cloves and 1-inch ginger to make a paste and set it aside.
  3. After 25 to 30 minutes add a couple of teaspoons to your blender and grind soaked cashews and almonds to make a smooth paste.
  4. Add 3 to 4 ripe tomatoes (chopped) in the same blender and make tomato puree.
  5. Add 1 teaspoon of oil of your choice to a pan and cook it on medium heat. Add cinnamon stick and bay leaf (Tej Patta) once the oil is hot.
  6. Then add onions and ginger-garlic paste to the pan and Saute the mixture for 3-4 minutes.
  7. Now add cashews, almonds, and tomato puree and stir the mixture gently.
  8. Note: You’ll need to soak cashews and almonds in a hot water cup for about 25 minutes. So, do that before starting the process. Instead of tomato puree, you can also use fresh tomatoes if you want.
  9. Add 1 – 1.5 cups of water and cook the mixture for 15 minutes by covering the pan.
  10. Remove the pan from heat, remove the bay leaf (Tej Patta), and let the mixture cool. Then add it to your blender and grind it to make a smooth paste.
  11. Now add 1 teaspoon oil and 2 tablespoons butter to the same pan and cook it on medium heat.
  12. Add the Kashmiri red chili powder and regular chili powder once the butter melts.
  13. Add ½ teaspoon garam masala powder, a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, and cardamom, and stir the mixture.
  14. Cook it for about 3-4 minutes and add heavy cream or fresh cream.
  15. Stir the mixture gently so that the cream gets distributed evenly.

Your Paneer Makhani Masala is ready.

How to Make Paneer Makhani with Cottage Cheese?

You already know how to make Paneer Makhani Masala. All you need to add is to perform the following steps to make Paneer Makhani with cottage cheese.

  1. Add cottage cheese to the hot Paneer Makhani Masala and cook the mixture for 2-3 minutes and then add Kasuri methi or Fenugreek Leaves.
  2. Transfer the Paneer Makhani to a bowl and garnish it with coriander leaves and cream.

How to Make Onion Puree for Paneer Makhani?

Use the following method to make onion puree

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Medium size white onions: 5 – 6
  • Freshwater to boil the onions

Step by Step Instructions

  1. Wash the white onions in warm water after peeling.
  2. Add water along with onions to a big pot.
  3. Boil onions until they look soft.
  4. Drain the excess water and store it in a bowl (don’t discard it).
  5. Add boiled onions along with half a cup of water that you drained in a separate pot to the blender.
  6. Blend the mixture well to make a smooth puree.
  7. Add a pinch of salt and your onion puree is ready.

Is Paneer Makhani Spicy?

No, Paneer Makhani is not a spicy dish because of tomatoes, butter, paneer, and cream. However, it can offer a subtle sweet taste if you add white onions and sugar. 

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