Monday, December 20, 2010

Paneer Butter Masala -- Paneer Makhani

Paneer Butter Masala -- Paneer in a rich creamy gravy

I really really love December. Though the month brings lots of housework, cooking, cleaning, re-cleaning, making umpteen trips to the grocery store on cold cold days, I still love it. I don't do too many Christmas presents so am saved running around in the madding crowd of department stores.

Though BS & LS don't really have a wish list for Santa, I still have to buy something for them, to keep with the spirits and put stuff under the tree.

LS said all she wanted from Santa was "Geefs" and Santa was going to give "geefs" to her and Didi only.
"Tomay Santa geef debe na. Ami debo, bujhecho?(Santa won't give you geefs. I will, understand ?)", she told me.
And then the not yet two-and-half got me an empty yellow polka dotted gift bag (from my stash), and said "Tomake lellow geef debo ar Baba ke red"(I will give you an yellow gift and Baba a red one);

BS initially wanted a pair of light up shoes, a simple pair which looks horrible and does nothing but light up. Her Dad had denied her that and got a pair of sensible sneakers instead so she said though Santa wasn't really real but only some saint, she wanted the light up pair from him. Last Friday though she said if she had a wish list she would put on it a Polly Pocket doll that changes hair color on getting wet.

Neither has been acquired.

For all I know she might forget about both by Christmas Day. December being her birthday month, she gets enough gifts to keep her happy anyway.

Now to the Paneer Butter Masala/Paneer Makhani which I made for a party this weekend.It was genuinely loved.

Honestly I am not a Butter Paneer kind of gal. Though you might not know it. You might see me and think, "Oh she sure eats Butter Paneer for all three meals a day". But that is not really true.

I hardly make butter paneer or butter chicken and don't crave for them even at the grand Indian buffet. Now buttered toast with some sprinkled sugar or salt & pepper is something I crave but we shall not digress.

The smooth, uniform taste of the makhani gravy does not excite me.But I have learned that people love Butter paneer or Butter Chicken or Butter Mutter or at least they think they love it. They will cross continents and open a shop and sell an orange gravy called Utter Butter and next day there will be a queue outside asking for more. It doesn't hurt that it is god dang easy to make. Much easier than shukto or bandhakopi ghonto or such stuff. Even if something goes wrong all you have to do is add more butter and cream and voila, there is praise all around.

I used to make a low fat version of Butter Chicken earlier and still do but when I have lots of people over I go overboard and do the whole butter, cream thing. People apparently love butter. So be it.


Paneer Butter Masala/Paneer Makhani

Make your own Garam Masala

Dry roast

10 Cardamom
15 Clove
2"thin Cinnamon stick
3 Dry Red chili
two or three 1" bark of javetri/mace
in a skillet till fragrant. Alternately pop in toaster oven for 5 mins at 250F. Cool and grind to a fine powder. Store in a small air-tight jar. Use 1-2 tsp of this Garam masala in the gravy.

Make the Gravy

Heat 1 tbsp Oil + 1 tbsp Ghee/Butter in a deep heavy bottomed pan

Temper the Oil with 1/4 tsp of Fenugreek Seeds/Methi and 2 big black cardamom

To the oil add approx. 2 cups of red onion finely chopped and fry till onion starts browning. If you like your gravy very smooth with no onion pieces to bite into, you can do a paste of the onions or fry the onions and then make a paste too.Note: I have made this with just about 1 cup of chopped onion and that works very well too.

Add 3tsp of Ginger paste and 2 tsp of Garlic Paste. Fry for next 3-4 minutes at medium heat

Puree fresh or canned tomatoes to make about 2 cups of tomato puree. Add the Tomato Puree to above and fry for 8-10 minutes till water almost evaporates.

Make a paste of 2tbsp Cashew+ 3/4 tsp Poppy seeds(optional) with little water. Add this paste to above. Also add
1 tbsp of Kasoori methi crushed between your palms,
1 tsp of Kashmiri Mirch,
1/2 tsp of Red Chili Powder(adjust to taste, I skip for the kids) and
1 tsp of Garam Masala Powder

Fry till the raw smell of tomato is gone and you see oil separating from the Masala. This will take some time but it is important that you achieve this step.

Add 1 cup can(14 oz) of Evaporated Milk and 1/2 cup of water. Add salt to taste. I will also add a little sugar at this point.Let the gravy come to a boil and then let it simmer at low heat till it thickens a little. You can cool and refrigerate this gravy and use it in a couple of days.
Note: Cham in one of her comments had suggested that if I am weary of cream I could use Evaporated Milk for the gravy. That is what I do and only add a little cream at the end.It tastes perfect.

Assemble Paneer in the Gravy

Cut a 14oz/400gm block of Paneer in small cubes. I use the Nanak Brand we get here which arguably is the best. If the Paneer is of the tough kind you need to soak in warm salted water after frying. I do not do that with nanak brand.Edited to Add: I do not use all the paneers from the block in this gravy, maybe 3/4th of the cubes is used. The other paneer cubes are refrigerated for future use.

When you are ready to make the paneer fry the paneer cubes to light golden. While frying, I sprinkle a little salt, sugar and kasoori methi on the cubes.Add the paneer pieces to the gravy. Add a little more water or milk to make the gravy right consistency.

Adjust for seasonings and add a little more Garam Masala if needed. Add 2-3tbsp of cream and let the gravy simmer for 10-15 minutes till done. It tastes good even without the cream but what is butter paneer without some heavy cream anyway.



  1. oh it just looks amazing!
    and am going to my kitchen :)

  2. Somehow I'm not a fan of butter anythings ... esp if it comes dunked in an orange gravy.
    Light up shoes, I've seen, didn't know about the haircolour-changing doll, must get one for my niece ...

  3. I love butter masala gravy...between butter masala and makhani masala ki alada? ami makhani masalai banai anekta ei recipe te. darun hoeche wonder everybody loved it.

  4. My fav ...ur version sounds easy n yummy

  5. LS is sooooo sweet!! I got my daughter light up shoes because there was a big sale and all kids of her age seemed to have one! She is now understanding the concept of gifts as a few Santas have handed out some presents to her.

    Butter somethings are always appealing and make people feel as if you've gone great lengths to entertain them!

  6. So sweet, the kids wants and desires.Love the humour in your posts. And the recipe of course. Esp when you talk about buttered toast with sugar sprinkled on it. Yes, my kind.

  7. Fingerlicking and mouthwatering PBM..Just drooling..

  8. I have a geef (LS is so darn cute) I would love to get from Santa but he rarely visits so I will wait for after Christmas sale.

    Hear you Sandeepa, I love my buttered or shall we say gheed toast, dosai and chapati but the butter masala anything makes me run away from the buffet as fast as possible. Palak Paneer, Butter Chicken two dishes I can't stand is what people ask the recipe for all the time. Just that mine is red from all the chili powder :)

    Yours look totally attractive though Sandeepa ;)

  9. Love the spice mix you used for paneer makhani. Love to try this combo.

  10. Party time we never worry about our guests health... Nowadays I totally skip all creamy food in party.
    The evaporated milk does wonder right-thanks for mention...
    Haha i never seen changing hair color. Having gals is quiet interesting...

  11. Babah, ki mishti kotha! Geef! lol.

    My love for paneer dishes is very recent. Till not so long ago, I just thought it was only for bhegetarians. Shundor dekhte hoyeche. Did LS have it?

  12. This butter paneer looks amazing! Definitely will have to try it soon!

  13. I love anything butter, as long as there is no food coloring involved. Loving your masala! Merry Christmas and happy geefing! :)

  14. Really - what is the deal with butter paneer??? You are atleast in "phoren" where some people's tastes got frozen in the India of the 80s and they haven't gone back since.
    But in India?? when we have so much more variety to choose from? We ordered in food at work the other day - a very rare occurence since we all pack lunches. And someone insisted on butter paneer masala!! I used my veto power ;)

    But good for you for being such an accomodating hostess! I tried that once and made butter chicken - atleast that has the redeeming factor of having to atleast marinate and grill the chicken first - something more than cutting and sliding paneer pieces into the gravy!
    Sorry - not to think that this lovely looking gravy didnt involve a lot of work, but as you said, the smoothness of this dish just doesnt excite me!

    And yes, the doll whose hair colour changes has an avatar here with costumes that change colour - K isnt getting it too- we are such evil dragons ;)

  15. Butter chicken has always been a hit with non-indian friends...they like the colour, the smell and the texture!!
    Will try the butter -paneer !


  16. Where do you buy badi elaichi from? I live in NJ and some of the stores I have tried, the product is not very good.

  17. Poulumi
    Yeah and it is easy too

    We have had our fair share of light up shoes but for a feet size at age 7 there is little choice


    As far as I know both are same but there are little variations in everyone's masala, like some recipes don't add onions etc.

    Thanks :)

    We have been buying light up shoes since BS was 2. It indeed looks very nice for small kids. But now she is 7 and there are only 2-3 light up kinds, not that great either:(. **Pssss***t but I got her a pair yesterday, will be gift wrapped:D


    MMmmm, thinking of kadak buttered toast is a pleasure


    PBM ??? Huh?? Now that is a good name


    Thank You :)

  18. Indo
    Hey, what is your secret desire ?
    Palak Paneer, I love though. No cream in mine


    That spice mix is my go to Garam Masala


    Thanks :)


    Tell me. I am just as unaware about Baku Gun which was a rage in my daughter's class last year or so.
    Your tip about Ev.Milk has been a winner. Thanks


    Yeah, we non-veg people usually ignore such stuff.


    Try it, it is easy too. And you can make the gravy way ahead.


    No geef for me :(


    Not accomodating, it actually is easy for me too ;-) People happy, me happy. I can make the gravy 2-3 days ahead and on the day add cream, put paneer simmer. How simple is that.
    Even for chicken version i do the same. Make gravy ahead. On day, pop chicken in oven(no grilling in winter) and add to gravy.

    Don't get me wrong but I have seen a lot of Indian people from South going ga-ga over Butter Paneer, maybe the novely of it, is what lures them


    same, same


    I get it from Apna Bazaar or patel. I have got one pack which I have been using for long. I don't use Badi Elaichi all that much. But the Bay leaves I get are often really bad quality.

  19. Hi,

    This is the first time I am writing into your blog. I wanted to write earlier too but I guess I enjoyed reading your blog responses more :)
    But today your little one's "geef" tempted me so much that I gave in. her"geef" is absolutely adorable.When I read this post I wished she was nearby here somewhere and I could see her.
    your description of your everyday life with your daughters and husband and the occasional visits of your friends are a delight to read. Hope to see you someday in person.

  20. heh heh.. i love dec too. :)) happy hols. i have a butter chicken post line up and ur words just exactly echo my sentiments w.r.t. butter.

  21. OMGoodness, I'm so glad I stumbled across your blog. Originally from Bangladesh, it's nice to read about bangali khabar & the tossed in Bangla phrases. Dhonnobad, desher kotha shundor bhabe monay koriye debar junno. And I learned about Bongs!

    Looking forward to keeping up with your cooking adventures!

    Happy December & Shubho Nobo Borsho

  22. Oh I loved reading about the geefs ..... lol. Cute.

    I too am not so much a Paneer girl ..... given an option I will have chicken :D

    Happy Holidays & Merry Christmas,


  23. This looks great- I'm going to make it. For making the garam masala when you say cardamom, that is boro elach, not choto elach, right? I see boro elach in the picture, just wanted to make sure! Thanks so much!

  24. OK, this is an awesome recipe. Full disclosure: I prefer paneer over any kind of meat any day, and I am non-Indian (but am married to one). For a festive party dish, this is a really nice option! (I plan to feed it to some Italians.)
    PS. I deduced through background reading that it was indeed boro elach and that I should roast them in the shell and then use the seeds in the garam masala. It worked great! Much better than MDH or other storebought!!

  25. @Wild orchid -- you are a genius :-)
    I am much much more lazier than you. When I make my garam masala, I use green cardamom and then just grind them whole after roasting ;-) I usually make a batch to last me a month.
    The North Indian garam masala does say to use seeds of badi elaichi like you did.

  26. Oh! Thank you, good to know! Next time I'll try it with the green ones and grind all together! :-) Seems fun to make the masalas from scratch like this...
    BTW the word verification for this comment is iMeat. I wonder if this is some new invention of Apple's for the recipe bloggers to use? ;-)

  27. I am neither a Butter Fan or Paneer Fan. But Looking at your preparation, I would definitely give a try . Looks Yummy !
    Ya to add a little,your daughter is really cute, So what did you 'Geef' her ?


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