Intermediate
Bowl of butter paneer topped with cilantro and red onions with naan in the background.

Notes on ingredients

Ingredients arranged to make butter paneer masala.Ingredients arranged to make butter paneer masala.

Spices: This recipe uses a mix of whole spices and ground spices, most of which can be found in a regular supermarket. Fenugreek leaves, or kasuri methi, provide a syrupy, earthy, nutty maple flavor to buttery paneer masala.

It is a distinctive flavor in the dish. You can find them at an Indian grocery store or on line, but you can add a pinch of ground fenugreek if you don’t have the leaves. Would you like to know more? Check out my guide to essential Indian spices.

Panel: You can use store bought ones or homemade bread. If you use store-bought, you will need to soak it in hot water for 15 to 20 minutes to soften it.

Aromatics: Ginger and garlic paste is a typical ingredient used in Indian cooking, but I find it easier to simply grate the ginger and garlic into a paste with a microplane. If you have pasta, you can use half of it instead!

Cashew nuts: Be sure to use raw, unsalted cashews.

Ripe tomatoes: It sounds strange, but fresh tomatoes, even in the dead of winter, provide the necessary texture for this masala, so don’t use a canned product! Ripe cherry tomatoes or Roma are ideal, because they are less watery than other varieties. Do not use cherry tomatoes or smaller cherry tomatoes.

For the complete list of ingredients and quantities please refer to recipe card.

🍳 Note on equipment 🍳

I recommend using a high powered blender to ensure the sauce is as creamy and smooth as possible. An immersion blender Not cut it here. If you don’t have one, you can replace the raw cashews with 1-2 tablespoons of cashew butter. Add the cashew butter directly to the blender instead of tossing it with the flavorings.

Vegan variation

The recipe can be completely vegan if you replace the butter with vegan butter and the firm tofu with paneer. I recommend fry the tofu first, then simmering it in the sauce for the last two minutes.

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