This Paneer Makhanwala has soft paneer cubes (Indian cottage cheese) in a buttery, creamy, tangy, lightly sweet gravy or sauce made with onion, tomato, cashews, herbs and spices. This delicious paneer makhanwala has restaurant style flavors, taste and gets done under 45 minutes. If you like a creamy buttery taste in a paneer dish then this recipe is for you.
About This Paneer Makhanwala
Wondering what is a Makhani gravy? It is tangy and mildly sweet tasting gravy that features butter (or makhan in Hindi language), tomatoes (usually pureed), spices, cashew paste and cream.
Some people say that paneer makhani and paneer makhanwala are the same dishes with different names and some say paneer makhani and paneer butter masala are the same. All this confusion is because of the similar gravy and the butter (makhan) which goes in the preparation of these recipes.
I won’t go into this discussion because at the end what matters is the taste and flavor. Basically all these dishes using the makhani gravy as a base taste awesome.
Generally, the makhani gravy does not have onions. However, in this recipe, I have added onions together with a few whole spices.
The method that I prefer to make paneer makhanwala is similar to my Shahi Paneer recipe except for the ingredients used. This is a rich curry and so is very filling. Together with the butter and cream I have also added cashews.
Swap paneer with tofu if you are not fond of paneer. Basically it is this makhanwala gravy that is the hero here. It is so flavorful. So you can opt to add vegetables, tofu, button mushrooms to the gravy.
This is a rich and great paneer dish to make when you have guests at home or during a festival or celebration.
Paneer Makhanwala and Veg Makhanwala is often seen in many of the Indian restaurant menus. Many years back this dish along with Chilli Paneer would be mine and my sister’s choice of paneer dish in any restaurant.
Paneer Makhanwala is best served with Naan or tandoori roti. The next best is to serve with chapati, roti or phulka.
How to make Paneer Makhanwala
Make Makhani Paste
1. First take the following listed ingredients in a medium saucepan.
- ¾ cup roughly chopped onions
- 1.5 cups roughly chopped tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon chopped ginger
- ½ teaspoon chopped garlic
- 10 to 12 whole cashews
- 2 thin single strands of mace
- 1 inch cinnamon
- 2 to 3 cloves
- 2 to 3 green cardamom
- 1 cup water
You can rinse the cashews with water if you prefer.
2. Stir to mix and combine. Cook these ingredients without a lid until the tomatoes and onions soften completely.
Allow this mixture to cool. Cook for a total of 14 to 15 minutes on a medium heat.
3. When warm or cooled, add all of the cooked and softened ingredients including the stock (the water in which they were cooked) in a good blender or grinder. Blend or grind to a smooth and fine paste.
Remember there should be no small pieces of chunks of cashews or the spices. Add water if needed while blending. But it is better to avoid adding water, if possible. Because if you add water, then while sautéing the masala paste splutters.
4. Heat 2 to 2.5 tablespoons butter in the same pan or another pan. Make sure the pan is dry before you add the butter. Add 1 tej patta (Indian bay leaf).
I have used fresh tejpatta. Sauté for a few seconds.
5. Add the ground makhani paste and mix with the melted butter. Take care while adding the paste as the mixture can splutter.
6. Add 1 to 1.5 teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder. I recommend to use Kashmiri red chili powder as it gives a deep orange color and is not pungent or hot.
You can also use sweet paprika or deghi mirch instead.
7. Stir well and sauté the masala on a medium heat. If the mixture starts spluttering, then keep a lid half covered on the pan. Let the moisture reduce and the spluttering will stop. But do stir often while cooking the masala paste.
8. Keep on stirring often. You have to sauté the masala till you see the butter leaving the sides. It has to be sautéed so well. This takes time but patience is the key.
You have to stir often. The masala would start clumping together and begin to reduce slowly. It will thicken and look glossy.
9. Here is how the masala should look like with the fat oozing from the sides. This sautéing took me about 20 minutes on a medium to medium-high heat.
The correct sautéing of the masala is very important to get the right notes of flavor and taste in the paneer makhanwala.
Make Paneer Makhanwala
10. Now add 1 green chili that has been sliced or slit, salt as required and 1.5 cups water or as required. For a slightly spicier version, you can add 2 green chilies.
11. Again mix very well and bring the gravy to a gentle simmer for about 4 to 5 minutes or until the curry or gravy has thickened slightly.
12. Add ½ teaspoon sugar and again stir to mix. Add the paneer cubes. Stir gently and switch off the heat. Preferable use Homemade Paneer.
13. Add ¼ cup light cream (cooking cream of low-fat cream), ¾ teaspoon dry fenugreek leaves that are crushed (kasuri methi) and ¼ teaspoon garam masala powder.
If using heavy whipping cream then add 1 to 2 tablespoons.
14. Stir to combine evenly. Check the taste of the gravy and add more salt or sugar if required.
15. Serve paneer makhanwala topped with 1 tablespoon of light cream and 1 to 2 tablespoons of grated paneer. Garnish with a few ginger julienne and 1 to 2 tablespoons of chopped coriander leaves (cilantro).
Enjoy the curry hot or warm with naan or roti. You can also serve it with jeera rice or ghee rice.
I recommend to finish the dish the same day and do not keep any leftovers. As on reheating the paneer cubes may get overcooked and become chewy.
More Paneer Recipes
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This Paneer Makhanwala has soft paneer cubes (Indian cottage cheese) in a buttery, creamy, tangy, lightly sweet gravy or sauce made with onion, tomato, cashews, herbs and spices.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 45 mins
For makhani paste
Making makhani paste
First mix chopped onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, cashews, mace, cinnamon, cloves and cardamoms with 1 cup water in a medium saucepan.
Cook everything without a lid till the tomatoes and onions soften. Cook for about 14 to 15 minutes on a medium flame. Allow this mixture to cool.
When the ingredients are warm or cool, add everything including the stock (the water in which the ingredients were cooked) in a good blender or grinder. Grind to a smooth and fine paste.
Remember there should be no small pieces of cashews or spices. Everything should be ground very well till fine and smooth.
Making paneer makhanwala
Heat butter in the same pan or another pan. Make sure the pan is dry when you add the butter. Add tejpatta (Indian bay leaf) and sauté for a few seconds.
Add the ground makhani paste. Stir well to mix with the butter
Add kashmiri red chili powder which gives a good color and is less spicy. You can also use deghi mirch or sweet paprika
Stir well and saute the masala on a medium heat.
Keep stirring often. You have to sauté the masala till you see the butter leaving the sides. It has to sautéed really well. This takes time but patience is the key.
Sauteing the masala paste takes about 20 to 22 mins on a medium to medium-high heat. Check the step by step photos (picture number 9) for the consistency of how the masala paste should be before you proceed to the next step.
Add slit green chilies, salt and water. Again stir very well to make an even curry mixture. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes.
Then add sugar and again stir. If you want to add honey instead of sugar then kindly check the notes section below.
Add the paneer cubes. Mix gently and switch off the heat.
Lastly add the light cream, crushed kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves) and garam masala powder.
Mix very well and switch off the heat. Check the taste of gravy and add more salt or sugar as needed.
Serve paneer makhanwala garnished with cream, grated paneer, ginger julienne, and cilantro leaves, hot or warm with naan or roti.
- I would not suggest to add honey in place of sugar. As per Ayurveda, honey should not be added to hot drinks or anything hot or heated above 40 degrees C/104 degrees F. When heated the honey becomes toxic. If you do want to add honey in this recipe, then let the gravy cool down a bit and then add honey.
- Use tomatoes that are ripe, red and sweet. Do not use sour tomatoes as the gravy becomes too tangy and it is not easy to balance this sourness.
- Instead of cashews, use blanched and peeled almonds to make the paste.
- To make a slightly thicker gravy add less water. But do not make the gravy thin.
- For a vegan version, use a neutral flavored oil or vegan butter. Swap paneer with tofu and cream with coconut cream. You can also opt to skip the cream. With coconut cream the flavors and taste will change.
- The recipe can be scaled to make a smaller or a larger serving.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 338 Calories from Fat 252
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 16g100%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Vitamin A 917IU18%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin B12 1µg17%
Vitamin C 11mg13%
Vitamin D 1µg7%
Vitamin E 1mg7%
Vitamin K 8µg8%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 17µg4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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