Posted on: October 2, 2021 Posted by: Joven Comments: 0

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.

paneer makhanwala topped with cream, grated paneer, cilantro in an orange dotted bowl on a red cotton napkin

About This Paneer Makhanwala

This recipe of Paneer Makhanwala is a variation of Paneer Butter MasalaPaneer Lababdar and Paneer Makhani – where the makhani gravy is the hero element in these dishes.  

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.

Step-by-Step Guide

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.

mix ingredients in a saucepan

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.

cook tomatoes and onions in the sauce pan

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.

making puree of the cooked ingredients


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.

heat butter or makhan and add tej patta

5. Add the ground makhani paste and mix with the melted butter. Take care while adding the paste as the mixture can splutter.

ground makhani paste or puree added

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.

add red chilli powder added

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.

saute the masala

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.

stir and sauté the masala

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.

sauteed masala

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.

water and green chilies added

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.

simmer the curry

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.

added paneer cubes

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.

added cream and kasuri methi

14.  Stir to combine evenly. Check the taste of the gravy and add more salt or sugar if required.

mix and check taste of gravy

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.

overhead shot of paneer makhanwala topped with cream, grated paneer, cilantro in an off white bowl on a red cotton napkin

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

Servings 4

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