Butter Paneer Masala

I have no tables, chairs, plates or cutlery and am currently having to eat off the floor but these are the instances when tiffins come in handy! The new hobs were baptised as they are in any self-respecting Bengali household- with curry. Today's recipe is a gluttonous one: lots of dairy produce went into making it so if you're lactose intolerant or vegan, this is one to skip. Paneer or Indian curd cheese is not famous in Bengali culture, but it is a favourite in my home. Add to that flaky paratha, a touch of ghee and oodles of masala and you have yourself a solid winner!

Servings: 5-6 portions
Prep+cooking time: 30mins


  • 200g paneer, cut into cubes
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds or cashews
  • 3 tomatoes, pureed (canned tomatoes are fine)
  • 1-2 green chillies
  • 1 inch ginger, grated
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried methi (fenugreek) leaves
  • 1 tsp garam or tandoori masala
  • 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil plus 1/2 tbsp ghee or unsalted butter
  • 1-1 1/2 cups water
  • coriander leaves for garnishing
  • salt and sugar, to taste

1) In a shallow frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil, lightly toast the paneer cubes, remove from the pan and leave to one side for later.

2) In a deep pan over a medium, add vegetable oil and butter. The oil will prevent the butter from burning too quickly. Add bay leaf, ginger and garIic until the strong aroma disappears.

3) Pour in the tomato puree and cook for 5 minutes before adding Kashmiri chilli powder. Stir the masala over a low flame for 10 minutes.

4) Make an almond or cashew paste by adding a few teaspoons of water to the ground nuts and stir into the masala. Add the remaining cup of water and leave it to simmer for 5 minutes.

5) Add a few stems of ginger, green chilli or salt to taste.

6) Add the paneer, garam masala and methi leaves and cook for a final 5 minutes.

7) Once you are ready to serve, garnish with coriander or sliced chillies. Add sides of yoghurt and mint sauce. Butter paneer masala tastes best and feels more luxurious with homemade paratha but you can buy ready made ones or have with rice.