Paneer Tikka Masala Recipe (Restaurant Style)

  • on 11 September 2020
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The best homemade paneer tikka masala recipe you’ll ever taste! It’s one of the popular restaurant style paneer recipes.

Here smokey, charred paneer tikka are added into the creamy, silky-smooth, rich and delicious onion-tomato gravy. Enjoy it with naan bread or basmati rice.

Close up of paneer tikka masala in a bowl with 2 tikka skewers rested on the bowl

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❤️About This Recipe

Paneer tikka is made with marinated paneer cubes, onions, and colorful peppers. After soaking up the flavors of the marinade, they are skewered and baked into the oven or grilled on the stovetop. 

Let’s go one step further and make delicious, flavorful, creamy Punjabi gravy masala. Then grilled tikka are added into the gravy and the dish called paneer tikka masala.

The recipe itself is very easy to make but it is a little lengthy and has many steps. But no to worry I have broken down into steps (with pics) for you to make it easy. 

Time-saving tip: Instead of arranging the paneer and veggie pieces in the skewers, just pan-fry them in a single layer. I have shared that method as well in the pics below.

🧾Ingredients

Here is the pic of the ingredients used in making paneer tikka. Plus, you’ll need cooking oil spray and skewers (if baking into the oven). For cooking on the stovetop, you don’t need them.

Ingredients used in paneer tikka includes greek yogurt, paneer, onion, peppers, ginger garlic paste, salt, spices, mustard oil and besan.

Greek yogurt: Traditionally the hung curd (where regular yogurt is tied into the muslin cloth and rested for 3-4 hours so excess whey has dripped down) is used. But let’s take a shortcut and use already thick greek yogurt.

Onions, Peppers: Cut them to the same size so they cook evenly and at the same time.

Mustard oil: It is added into the marinade which adds a nice smokey, pungent flavor. Here in the USA, mustard oil is banned. So what you find in the Indian grocery store has labeled ‘external use only’ but that is safe to consume, trust me. I have been using it for more than 10 years.

Now here is another pic of the ingredients which are used in making gravy for paneer tikka masala. All the ingredients are basic for restaurant style Punjabi red gravy.

  • Red onions: Please use red onions (Yellow or white won’t add that nice flavor).
  • Tomatoes: Always use ripe tomatoes. Unripe tomatoes make the gravy sour. 
  • Cashews and Heavy cream: These two make the gravy rich and creamy.
Ingredients used in the gravy includes onion, tomato, ginger, garlic, whole spices, cashews, oil, butter, salt, spice powders and cream

👩‍🍳Step By Step Photo Instructions 

Making paneer tikka masala is divided into two steps: 

  1. Make paneer tikka: Preparing marinade, let the paneer marinate for a few hours and then grill in the oven or cook on the stovetop. 
    TIP: Marinate the paneer a day before and keep in the refrigerator overnight. So the next day it’s quick and easy.
  2. Make the gravy: The gravy ingredients are cooked and made into a smooth paste. Then simmered with spices, added grilled paneer and it’s ready.

Marinating Paneer:

1) Take greek yogurt, mustard oil, besan, ginger and garlic in a large bowl. 

2) Whisk really well and make sure that there are no lumps of besan.

3) Now add all the spice powders and salt.

4) Mix everything well.

5) Add paneer, onion and pepper cubes.

6) Mix well so the marinade is coated to every piece. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for 1 hour to 4 hours or even overnight (if prepping ahead of time).

Collage of 6 steps showing greek yogurt, besan, oil in a bowl, mixed, added spices, mixed, added paneer and veggies, mixed

Grilling The Tikka (Oven):

Preheat the oven to 450°F (or 230°C) for at least 10 minutes. Prepare the baking tray with a rack on top. You can line the bottom tray with parchment paper or aluminum foil. If using wooden skewers, please soak in the water for 30 minutes.

1) Arrange the paneer and veggies on the skewer.

2) Arrange the ready skewers on the prepared rack.

3) Spray generously with the cooking oil spray. Turn the skewers and spray again, so all the sides are coated with the oil.

4) Roast in the oven (in the middle rack) for 10 minutes. Then turn the broiler on, transfer the tray on top rack and grill for 3-4 minutes or until it gets charred flavor. During the broiling process, halfway through remove the tray, flip the skewers and broil. So it gets charred from all sides.

Collage of 4 steps showing arranging tikka on skewers, arrange on the baking tray, spraying with oil, cooked paneer tikka

OR Pan-frying (On Stovetop):

1) Heat the nonstick pan on medium heat and add a generous amount of oil. Oil should coat the bottom of the pan. Once hot add marinated cubes in a single layer. You may need to do it in batches.

2) When paneer gets light golden color flip them and cook another side. Cook the veggies till they are 80% cooked. Remove them to a plate and keep it aside.

Making Gravy:

1) Heat the butter in a pan on medium heat. Once hot add whole spices (cloves, cardamoms and cinnamon stick). Saute for 30-40 seconds or until you feel a nice aroma of the spices.

2) Then add ginger and garlic. Saute for a minute.

3) Add chopped onion and sprinkle a little salt to speed up the process.

4) Cook until onion becomes soft and translucent (or light pink).

5) Add cashews and chopped tomatoes. 

6) Mix and cook till tomatoes are soft. Let the mixture cool down slightly and grind into a smooth paste.

Collage of 6 steps showing spices in butter, cooking ginger garlic, added onion, softened onion, added tomato, cooked mixture

7) Heat the oil in the same pan on medium heat. Once hot add prepared paste.

8) Mix and cook until it becomes thick and most of the moisture evaporated. So stir in between and scrape the sides and bottom of the pan. If it splutters a lot then you can cover it partially.

9) Now add salt, red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and turmeric powder.

10) Mix well and cook for a minute.

Collage of 4 steps showing adding paste, cooked paste, adding spice powders, mixed well.

11) Now add water and simmer for 5-6 minutes.

12) Add garam masala and kasoori methi. Crush the kasoori methi between your palm before adding to release the flavor.

13) Add grilled tikka.

14) Add cream. Mix and simmer for 1-2 minutes and paneer tikka masala is ready to serve.

Collage of 4 steps showing simmering gravy, added kasoori methi, garam masala, adding tikka, adding cream

💭Expert Tips

Avoid overcooking tikka: If you overcook the paneer then it becomes chewy and rubbery. Plus, overcooked veggies will taste too soft and mushy.

Extra marinade: If you have any leftover marinade from tikka, then add that into the gravy and simmer for a couple of minutes.

Fix the sour gravy: if by chance your gravy tastes tangy and sour then you can little sugar or some honey.

Gravy consistency: It has to be medium thick (not too watery or not too thick). So adjust the water quantity accordingly. If it’s watery then let it simmer until thickens.

The color of the dish: Restaurant people add food color to get bright orangy (or sometimes red) gravy. I try to avoid the food color in my cooking. 

🍽 Serving Ideas

Meal idea 1: serve paneer tikka masala with garlic naan (or lachha paratha) and have Indian onion salad and roasted papad on the side.

Meal idea 2: Enjoy it with plain basmati rice (or jeera rice, peas pulao) and have salted lassi on the side. 

FAQs

How to make hung curd if not using greek yogurt?

Line a sieve with a muslin cloth (or a man’s handkerchief), keep a deep bowl or jug underneath to collect the liquid. Add plain yogurt into the cloth, collect the edges of the cloth together and twist it a few times. Let the excess whey drip down into the bowl. Keep this setup into the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. You’ll have thick hung curd ready.

How I get the smokey flavor?

In the restaurants, they cook the tikka into the tandoor (clay oven) which has a nice smokey flavor.
If you have broiled your tikka into the oven or grilled on an outdoor grill, then it has a smokey flavor.
But if you have pan-fried the tikka then it is missing that smokey flavor. So try giving it a dhungar.
How to:
– Place a small bowl in the center of the pan. 
– Take a small piece of charcoal (natural lump charcoal) and heat up on open flame with the use of tongs. Heat it till it gets red hot.
– Put the hot charcoal in a small bowl. Make sure charcoal is not touching the food.
– Drizzle a ½ teaspoon of ghee over it and immediately the smoke will start to come out.
– Immediately cover the pan and leave it for 5 minutes. Then remove the charcoal and bowl.

paneer tikka masala gravy with 2 skewers on the bowl, served with paratha, onions, chutney, lemon wedge

Check Out Other Restaurant Style Paneer Dishes

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📋 Recipe Card

Step by Step Photos AboveWant to make it perfect first time? Don’t forget to check out Step-by-Step photo instructions and helpful Tips & Tricks !!

Paneer Tikka Masala

Tried this recipe? Leave a comment and/or give ★ ratings

The best homemade paneer tikka masala recipe you’ll ever taste! It’s one of the popular restaurant style paneer recipes.

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: North Indian

Calories: 676kcal

Prep Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Cook Time 45 minutes

Total Time 2 hours

US measuring cups are used (1 cup = 240 ml) See details

Instructions 

  • Marinating Paneer:Take greek yogurt, mustard oil, besan, ginger and garlic, all the spice powders and salt. Mix everything well.– Add paneer, onion and pepper cubes. Mix well so the marinade is coated to every piece. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for 1 hour to 4 hours or even overnight (if prepping ahead of time).
  • Grilling The Tikka (Oven):Preheat the oven to 450°F (or 230°C) for at least 10 minutes.– Prepare the baking tray with a rack on top. You can line the bottom tray with parchment paper or aluminum foil. – If using wooden skewers, please soak in the water for 30 minutes. – Arrange the paneer and veggies on the skewer and place the skewers on the prepared rack.– Spray generously with the cooking oil spray. Turn the skewers and spray again, so all the sides are coated with the oil.– Roast in the oven (in the middle rack) for 10 minutes. Then turn the broiler on, transfer the tray on top rack and grill for 3-4 minutes or until it gets charred flavor. During the broiling process, halfway through remove the tray, flip the skewers and broil. So it gets charred from all sides.
  • OR Pan-frying (On Stovetop):Heat the nonstick pan on medium heat and add a generous amount of oil. Oil should coat the bottom of the pan. Once hot add marinated cubes in a single layer. You may need to do it in batches.– When paneer gets light golden color flip them and cook another side. Cook the veggies till they are 80% cooked. Remove them to a plate and keep it aside.
  • Making Gravy:Heat the butter in a pan on medium heat. Once hot add whole spices (cloves, cardamoms and cinnamon stick). Saute for 30-40 seconds or until you feel a nice aroma of the spices.– Then add ginger and garlic. Saute for a minute.– Add chopped onion and sprinkle a little salt to speed up the process. Cook until onion becomes soft and translucent (or light pink).– Add cashews and chopped tomatoes. Mix and cook till tomatoes are soft.– Let the mixture cool down slightly and grind into a smooth paste.– Heat the oil in the same pan on medium heat. Once hot add prepared paste. Mix and cook until it becomes thick and most of the moisture evaporated. So stir in between and scrape the sides and bottom of the pan. If it splutters a lot then you can cover it partially.– Now add salt, red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and turmeric powder. Mix well and cook for a minute.– Now add water and simmer for 5-6 minutes.– Add garam masala and kasoori methi. Crush the kasoori methi between your palm before adding to release the flavor. Mix well.– Add grilled tikka and cream. Mix and simmer for 1-2 minutes and paneer tikka masala is ready to serve.

Notes

  • Avoid overcooking tikka: If you overcook the paneer then it becomes chewy and rubbery. Plus, overcooked veggies will taste too soft and mushy.
  • Extra marinade: If you have any leftover marinade from tikka, then add that into the gravy and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  • Fix the sour gravy: if by chance your gravy tastes tangy and sour then you can little sugar or some honey.
  • Gravy consistency: It has to be medium thick (not too watery or not to thick). So adjust the water quantity accordingly. If it’s watery then let it simmer until thickens.
  • The color of the dish: Restaurant people add food color to get bright orangy (or sometimes red) gravy. I try to avoid the food color in my cooking.

Nutrition

Calories: 676kcal | Carbohydrates: 29.7g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 54.9g | Saturated Fat: 20.6g | Cholesterol: 89mg | Sodium: 757mg | Potassium: 870mg | Fiber: 4.9g | Sugar: 16.4g

*Nutrition information is a rough estimate for 1 serving




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