Paneer Bhuna Masala

// Taste the rich flavors of Paneer Bhuna Masala, a perfect blend of spices and creamy paneer, ideal for naan or rice. Easy to make.



Paneer Bhuna Masala is a popular Indian dish known for its bold spices and rich textures. This curry features pan-roasted paneer (Indian cottage cheese) simmered in a thick, flavorful sauce made from tomato cashew paste, yogurt, and essential spices.

It is a perfect side dish to accompany naan, roti, or paratha.

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Top view of paneer bhuna masala in a pan, garnished with green bell peppers and cilantro, accompanied by a bowl of dal and fresh vegetables on a dark table.

If you love deep, roasted flavors in your curry recipes, then this Paneer Bhuna Masala recipe is a must-try dish for you!

About Paneer Bhuna Masala

Paneer Bhuna Masala is a popular North Indian dry curry where paneer cubes cling to a thick tomato, cashew, and yogurt-based sauce.

Paneer Bhuna Masala is a super delicious, rich, and aromatic Indian dish, perfect for any meal. This easy paneer curry is all about cozy, comforting, and delicious Indian curry flavors.

This protein-rich paneer is adored by many for its creamy texture, spicy taste, and amazing flavors.

This easy-to-make curry can be served as part of a meal at parties or get-togethers. It can also be served for daily meals along with plain paratha or roti

Whether it’s a festive gathering or a regular weekend meal, this Paneer Bhuna Masala fits perfectly.

Close-up of paneer bhuna masala with golden-browned paneer, green bell peppers, and red onions in a spicy, herb-dotted masala sauce.

In this classic paneer curry, pan-seared paneer cubes are simmered in a spicy tomato and cashew masala with roasted onions and capsicum. This curry is a delicious blend of creamy textures and indulging flavors, perfect for a comforting meal.

Infused with intense flavors, Paneer Bhuna Masala gets its name from the “bhuna” technique. “Bhuna” is a cooking method where the spices are fried thoroughly with other ingredients until the oil separates. The bhuna cooking process brings out the deep, rich flavors of this curry and makes it full of flavors.

Making this simple paneer bhuna masala is very quick and easy. It is a naturally gluten-free and vegetarian paneer curry, but it can also be made vegan by swapping paneer with firm tofu.

Plus, it is a versatile recipe, so you can tailor it to suit your taste buds. For example, I have used Degi Mirch (Indian smoked paprika) in this recipe to give it a hearty and smoky flavor. But you can also use regular chili powder or Kashmiri red chili powder.

Just try it once, and I assure you that the taste of this Paneer Bhuna Masala will surely impress your friends and family.

So, let’s learn how to make this super delicious paneer bhuna masala curry right at home!

This Paneer Bhuna Masala

  • is incredibly delicious,

  • is very flavorful and aromatic,

  • can be served at parties or get-togethers,

  • goes well with naan,

  • is perfect for a weekend meal,

  • is easily customizable,

  • is vegetarian and gluten-free,

  • can also be made vegan,

  • is loaded with protein,

  • has a rich base.

Ingredients for Paneer Bhuna Masala

You will need some basic ingredients to make authentic Paneer Bhuna Masala at home.

  • Paneer: It is the star ingredient of this recipe. For best results, make sure to use fresh, high-quality paneer cubes. I have used fresh homemade paneer here, but you can also use store-bought paneer.

  • Onions: Finely chopped onions are used to make a rich onion tomato masala base. Roasted diced onions are also used in the gravy.

  • Green Bell Pepper: Pan-roasted capsicum or green bell pepper is used in the gravy. Feel free to use any other bell peppers of your choice.

  • Tomatoes: I have used fresh tomatoes to make purée. They add body and tartness to the spicy sauce. You can also use store-bought tomato purée or crushed tomatoes here.

  • Ginger & Garlic Paste: It adds a pungent and aromatic taste to the masala. You can also use freshly chopped ginger and garlic in this recipe.

  • Green Chilies: They add heat to the sauce. Adding green chilies is optional, so feel free to skip it if you don’t prefer much heat.

  • Oil or Ghee: For making paneer bhuna masala, I have used both ghee and oil. Ghee is used for roasting paneer and veggies. A combination of ghee and oil is used for making gravy. You can also use butter in this recipe. The combination of ghee and oil brings out the aromatic flavor of spices.

  • Spices: This curry uses a mix of turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala, red chili powder, garam masala powder, black pepper powder, and salt.

  • Kasuri Methi (Dried Fenugreek Leaves): Roasted Kasuri methi adds a subtle bitterness and aroma to the sauce by enhancing its overall flavor.

  • Fresh Cilantro: It adds a beautiful contrast and freshness to this paneer bhuna masala.

Paneer bhuna masala in a bowl on denim, garnished with cilantro, featuring paneer, bell peppers, and onions in masala, with a golden spoon and a background of dal and greenery.

How to Prepare Paneer Bhuna Masala

Making this paneer dish is very simple.

  • Make tomato purée: To prepare this paneer recipe, first create a smooth purée with tomatoes and boiled cashews. Then mix yogurt with spices.

  • Roast paneer: Pan roast the onions, bell peppers, and paneer cubes until they are golden.

  • Cook the base: In a pan, heat the oil or ghee and sauté onions until they turn golden. Then add ginger-garlic paste and green chilies, cooking until the raw smell disappears.

  • Add the yogurt mix: Then add the yogurt mix and cook until the oil separates from the sides.

  • Simmer with tomatoes: Next, add tomato purée and fry until the tomatoes are cooked and the oil starts to separate. Then add salt, garam masala, and kasuri methi, and mix well.

  • Adjust consistency: Add hot water and cook until the masala is cooked and oil surfaces on top.

  • Add paneer: Finally, add the fried paneer and roasted vegetables to the masala. Stir everything together to evenly coat the paneer with the spice mix. Cook for 1-2 minutes, garnish with chopped cilantro. Your paneer bhuna masala is ready.

Paneer Bhuna Masala Variations

  • Add Cream: If you prefer a creamy gravy, feel free to add a splash of cream at the end of cooking. This makes a mild and creamier version of this recipe.

  • Vegan: To accommodate vegan diets, substitute paneer with tofu and use oil instead of ghee.

  • Veggie Bhuna Masala: Instead of only using paneer, capsicum, and onions, you can also use mixed vegetables. For this version, feel free to use mixed vegetables of your choice.

Serving Suggestions

Paneer Bhuna Masala is ideal for a comforting meal on a chilly evening or as a flavorful side dish in a larger feast.

It pairs beautifully with any flatbread such as naan, roti, paratha, or even aloo kulcha. You can also serve it with flavored rice like paneer pulao, matar pulao, or jeera rice.

You can also serve it as part of an elaborate Indian meal along with toor dal, wheat naan, boondi raita, paneer jalfrezi, Indian milk cake, and mango milkshake.

Storage Suggestions

This paneer bhuna masala stores very well. You can keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. 

When ready to serve, simply reheat it on a stovetop pan or in a microwave. If your masala has thickened too much after storage, feel free to add a little water.

Paneer bhuna masala in a bowl with chunks of paneer and green bell peppers, garnished with cilantro, served with background slices of cucumber and additional dishes.

Important Tips & Tricks to Make the Best Paneer Bhuna Masala

  1. Use Fresh Paneer: For the best tasting paneer, make sure to use fresh paneer. If you are using store-bought paneer, soak it in hot water for about 5-7 minutes, then wrap it in kitchen tissue to absorb excess liquid before using.

  2. Stirring: Stir frequently to ensure the onion masala cooks evenly and the spices do not stick to the bottom of the pan.

  3. Heat: Make sure to turn the heat to low before adding the yogurt spice mix. Also, stir constantly to avoid curdling.

  4. Consistency: This dish tastes good when prepared dry or semi-dry. However, if you want gravy, feel free to adjust the thickness of the masala by adding a little water.

  5. Oil & Ghee: I like to use a combination of oil and ghee to make the sauce. It adds richness and a beautiful aroma. Feel free to use only ghee or only oil. You can also use butter in this recipe.

  6. Spices: Adjust the spiciness of the paneer bhuna masala to your taste. If you want it spicier, add more green chilies or increase the red chili powder. If you prefer less heat, feel free to omit the green chilies.

FAQ

Is Paneer Bhuna Masala spicy?

Yes, it is a spicy dish. The spiciness comes from the green chilies and Degi Mirch. However, if you prefer it less spicy, then skip adding green chilies.

Can I make this dish vegan?

Yes, making this paneer dish vegan is possible. Substitute paneer with tofu and swap ghee with oil. Also, ensure that all other ingredients you use are plant-based.

Can I use store-bought paneer for this recipe?

Absolutely! Using fresh paneer is recommended as it has ideal softness, but store-bought paneer is perfectly acceptable. Simply soak it in hot water for about 10 minutes before cooking to soften it.

Can I make Paneer Bhuna Masala in advance?

Yes, you can surely make this dish in advance. In fact, it actually tastes better the next day as the flavors have more time to meld together. Simply store it in the refrigerator and reheat it on the stove or in the microwave when ready to serve.

Are there any substitutions for Kasuri methi?

Kasuri methi adds a distinctive taste. However, if Kasuri methi is unavailable, you can skip it.

What is the best way to serve Paneer Bhuna Masala?

Paneer Bhuna Masala tastes great when served with Indian breads like paratha, naan, or roti. You can also serve it with rice dishes like plain rice or mushroom pulao for a fuller meal.

How long can I store Paneer Bhuna Masala?

This paneer curry can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. For a longer shelf life, you can freeze it for up to a month. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and reheat thoroughly before serving.


Paneer Bhuna Masala (Step-by-step photo instructions)

Prepare the Tomato-Cashew Paste:

  1. Combine the chopped tomatoes and boiled cashews with 2 tablespoons of water in a blender and blend into a smooth paste. Set aside.
  2. Image of the recipe cooking step-1-1 for Paneer Bhuna Masala

Mix the Yogurt and Spices:

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the plain yogurt, turmeric, degi mirch, coriander powder, cumin powder, and black pepper. Set aside.
  2. Image of the recipe cooking step-2-1 for Paneer Bhuna Masala

Roast the Veggies & Paneer

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of ghee or oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the diced onions and capsicum. Sauté until they are lightly browned. Transfer them to a plate and set aside.
  2. Image of the recipe cooking step-3-1 for Paneer Bhuna Masala
  3. In the same pan, add another tablespoon of ghee or oil and roast the diced paneer until golden. It’s important not to overcook the paneer; we want it nice and soft, not rubbery. Remove from the pan and set aside with the veggies.
  4. Image of the recipe cooking step-3-2 for Paneer Bhuna Masala

Prepare the Bhuna Masala

  1. In a broad non-stick pan, heat 2 tablespoons each of oil and ghee. Add cumin seeds, bay leaf, black cardamom, cinnamon stick, and green cardamom pods. Sauté until fragrant.
  2. Image of the recipe cooking step-4-1 for Paneer Bhuna Masala
  3. Add the chopped onions and sauté until golden.
  4. Image of the recipe cooking step-4-2 for Paneer Bhuna Masala
  5. Stir in the ginger garlic paste and green chili, cooking until the raw smell disappears.
  6. Image of the recipe cooking step-4-3 for Paneer Bhuna Masala
  7. Turn the heat to low. Add the yogurt-spice mixture to the pan, stirring continuously to prevent curdling. Cook until the oil begins to float on top.
  8. Image of the recipe cooking step-4-4 for Paneer Bhuna Masala
  9. Pour in the tomato-cashew paste. Mix well and cook over medium until the oil separates from the sides.
  10. Image of the recipe cooking step-4-5 for Paneer Bhuna Masala
  11. Add salt, garam masala, and roasted kasuri methi. Mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  12. Image of the recipe cooking step-4-6 for Paneer Bhuna Masala
  13. Adjust the consistency with hot water as needed. At this point, you can also adjust the seasoning.
  14. Image of the recipe cooking step-4-7 for Paneer Bhuna Masala
  15. Add the roasted veggies and paneer, mix well.
  16. Image of the recipe cooking step-4-8 for Paneer Bhuna Masala
  17. Cook for 2 minutes. Add chopped coriander leaves and mix.
  18. Image of the recipe cooking step-4-9 for Paneer Bhuna Masala

Recipe Card


Paneer Bhuna Masala [Recipe]

Recipe Image
Taste the rich flavors of Paneer Bhuna Masala, a perfect blend of spices and creamy paneer, ideal for naan or rice. Easy to make.
★★★★★
(Rating: 5 from 6 reviews)

Prep time 🕐 Cook time 🕐 Total time 🕐
P30 mins
Category ☶ Cuisine ♨ Serves ☺
Main Indian 5
Nutrition Info ⊛ Serving size ⊚
181 calories 1

INGREDIENTS

For the tomato-cashew paste
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 15 cashews, boiled with 2 tbsp water
For the yogurt-spice mixture:
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt, at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp degi mirch or Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper powder
For roasting veggies & paneer
  • 2 tbsp ghee or oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, diced and petals separated
  • 1 large capsicum, diced
  • 450 grams paneer, diced
For the masala
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 3 medium-sized onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 large green chili, sliced
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp roasted kasuri methi
  • Hot water as required
  • Handful of coriander leaves, chopped
For serving
  • Fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

INSTRUCTIONS:

Prepare the Tomato-Cashew Paste:
  1. Combine the chopped tomatoes and boiled cashews with 2 tablespoons of water in a blender and blend into a smooth paste. Set aside.
Mix the Yogurt and Spices:
  1. In a bowl, whisk together the plain yogurt, turmeric, degi mirch, coriander powder, cumin powder, and black pepper. Set aside.
Roast the Veggies & Paneer
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of ghee or oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the diced onions and capsicum. Sauté until they are lightly browned. Transfer them to a plate and set aside.
  2. In the same pan, add another tablespoon of ghee or oil and roast the diced paneer until golden. It’s important not to overcook the paneer; we want it nice and soft, not rubbery. Remove from the pan and set aside with the veggies.
Prepare the Bhuna Masala
  1. In a broad non-stick pan, heat 2 tablespoons each of oil and ghee. Add cumin seeds, bay leaf, black cardamom, cinnamon stick, and green cardamom pods. Sauté until fragrant.
  2. Add the chopped onions and sauté until golden.
  3. Stir in the ginger garlic paste and green chili, cooking until the raw smell disappears.
  4. Turn the heat to low. Add the yogurt-spice mixture to the pan, stirring continuously to prevent curdling. Cook until the oil begins to float on top.
  5. Pour in the tomato-cashew paste. Mix well and cook over medium until the oil separates from the sides.
  6. Add salt, garam masala, and roasted kasuri methi. Mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Adjust the consistency with hot water as needed. At this point, you can also adjust the seasoning.
  8. Add the roasted veggies and paneer, mix well.
  9. Cook for 2 minutes. Add chopped coriander leaves and mix.

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NOTES:

  1. For the best tasting paneer, make sure to use fresh paneer. If you are using store-bought paneer, soak it in hot water for about 5-7 minutes, then wrap it in kitchen tissue to absorb excess liquid before using.
  2. Stir frequently to ensure the onion masala cooks evenly and the spices do not stick to the bottom of the pan.


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