Paneer makhani ( No onion-no garlic recipe)


Paneer makhani or paneer makhanwala! What’s in a name? This is one gorgeous, fragrant and delectable North Indian dish with it’s luxurious orange hues dazzling with paneer cubes and cream. This vegetarian counterpart to the renowned butter chicken is equally delicious and a treat for vegetarians. Well I enjoy it too!

Today I’m sharing my way of making this delicious recipe. Usually makhani gravy consists of tomatoes, is mildly spiced, slightly tangy and a little sweet, and of course creamy and buttery. ‘Makhani’ literally translates to ‘buttery’.  A lot of folks use onions too for making makhani , it is great if you are looking to add body to this dish. But I love to make this using just tomatoes, it taste just like how a makhani gravy should taste. I use this same gravy to make butter chicken as well. Or you can simply add veggies, and then you have veg makhanwala 🙂

Today, I’ve used fresh tomatoes to prepare the curry base. The vibrant color of the dish is not from any food color but from the Kashmiri chilli powder. The addition of Kashmiri chilli powder to the hot butter adds a gorgeous color to the dish rather than adding it at a later stage. Read notes for a low calorie version !


Ingredients: Measuring cup used, 1 cup = 250 ml, 1 teaspoon = 5 ml

250 grams paneer, cut into bite sized cubes/triangles

750 grams ripe red tomatoes ( I used 5 tomatoes on vine)

1 inch ginger + 2-3 green chillies, coarsely crush both in a mortar pestle

whole spices (2 bay leaves, 1 inch cinnamon, 3 green cardamom, 2 cloves, few blades of mace,5 -6 peppercorns)

7-10 cashew nuts/almonds, soaked in warm water for 20-30 minutes

1 to 2 teaspoons Kashmiri chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder

1/4 teaspoon roasted cumin powder

1/4 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar, adjust according to the sourness of the tomatoes

1/2 tablespoon kasuri methi (dry fenugreek  leaves), dry roasted and crushed between palms

1 tablespoon tomato ketchup

1/4 cup of heavy cream/fresh malai

4 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon oil

salt to taste


1.Bring a large pot of water to boil. In the meanwhile make an ‘X’ at the bottom of each tomato. Immerse them in the boiling water, when you see the skin has blistered, remove them and transfer to a bowl filled with ice cold water. Peel the skin, roughly chop the tomatoes.


2.Transfer the chopped tomatoes along with it’s juices & soaked and drained  cashew nuts  in a blender. Blend till smooth, strain and set aside.


3.Heat 3 tablespoons butter plus oil  in a heavy bottomed pan/ kadai, add whole spices.


4.When the spices become fragrant add coarsely crushed ginger green chilli paste. Sauté until the rawness is gone. Add Kashmiri chilli powder, sauté in medium low heat for 10 secs.


5.Immediately add the prepared tomato purée, mix well with the seasoned butter, cover and let it cook on medium low heat until it leaves fat. Stir in between to prevent any sticking at the bottom of the pan. This will take about 15-20 minutes.


6.It will look like this.


7.Now add tomato ketchup, salt (to season), sugar (to balance out the tartness of the tomatoes), Kasoori methi, red chilli powder, roasted cumin powder and garam masala. Sauté it on medium heat for another minute.


8.Add 3/4 to 1 cup  water (adjust as per desired consistency, add only 1/4 cup water for very thick gravy), mix well and bring to a boil. Check for seasonings and adjust now.


9.Add paneer pieces ( you can also fry the paneer pieces and keep them immersed in water until ready to use in the gravy, I’ve used fried paneer pieces), mix well and let it simmer covered for another 5 minutes so that the paneer absorbs all the flavors.


10.Finally add the cream and another tablesooon of butter, mix well and simmer for another 1-2 minutes. Finish it off with a little sprinkle of kasuri methi. Switch off the heat and serve with pilaf or any flat bread!




  1. You can grind the tomatoes and cashewnuts separately too, after tomato paste leaves sides, add cashew paste and sauté until that leaves sides and forms a lumpy mass. Proceed as directed from there on.

  2. For a low calorie version, skip the butter completely, add 1-2 teaspoons of oil and prepare the dish. Keep splashing water to prevent anything from sticking at the bottom of the pan. Replace the cream with skim milk.

  3. If you want to use onions and garlic, make a paste of boiled onions, sauté that first till golden brown then add tomato purée. If adding garlic, make a coarse paste along with ginger and green chillies and use.

Looking for more paneer dishes, you may also like-

Matar paneer, recipe here

Methi matar malai paneer, recipe here

Palak paneer, recipe here

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  1. Evra says:

    Hi Freda
    Tried out the Paneer makhani today and teamed it up with some dal dry and your butter garlic kulcha and viola had a great meal . Thanks a ton.

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