Fried paneer cubes and peas are paired with a richly spiced, creamy tomato sauce in this vegetarian paneer tikka masala.
paneer tikka masala

Whoever decided that cheese frying does not qualify as an Xtreme Sport.

We’re about to have words.


I mean, really, between the hot oil in the pan and the hot oil on your counter and the hot oil on your floor and the hot oil shooting straight into your face as you lift up your splash screen the tiniest of smidgens to see if any cheese browning is going on….

…this is a death-wish waiting to happen.

Not for the faint of heart. Or those with pre-existing conditions.

And yet. AND YET…


…I’m still telling you to run (not walk) to your kitchen and get a big pot of it into your life. Like, yesterday.

It’s so worth the pain. And really, what is one more burn scar on your right forearm in a sea of so many. Am I right or am I right?

I know what you’re thinking: with 2 cups of cream and a whole lot of fried cheese, this had better be the best thing you’ve ever tasted and then some to make it worth the calories.

And here I am to tell you, in an entirely official and not at all subjective capacity: IT IS.

It’s creamy in all the right places, spiced just enough that you’ll fall head over heels for it’s exotic allure, and comforting in a way that feels familiar, yet different. Basically, it’s everything that most restaurant tikka masalas aspire to, but rarely end up actually achieving because they’re too oil-smothered for you to actually taste any of the Big Flavor that’s going on. This recipe may not skimp on the fat either, but it also doesn’t glorify any superfluous uses of it.

Personally, I’m down.

Especially if it means tikka masala IN MY FACE seven days a week. I can’t even imagine a better way to live.


Paneer Tikka Masala
Fried paneer cubes and peas are paired with a richly spiced, creamy tomato sauce in this vegetarian paneer tikka masala.
Yield: 4-6 servings
  • vegetable or peanut oil, for frying
  • 8 oz paneer, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 6 cardamom pods, crushed
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 lb frozen peas
  1. Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a medium cast-iron skillet. It is hot enough when it sizzles the instant you add a paneer cube to the pan. Fry the paneer in a single layer in the oil until it is golden brown, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Discard the oil.
  2. In a large heavy pot over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic, onion, tomato paste, cardamom pods, and pepper flakes to the pot. Cook, stirring often, until the tomato paste has darkened and the onion has softened, about 5 minutes. Add the spices to the pot and cook, stirring constantly, until the bottom of the pot begins to brown, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes with their juices, crushing the tomatoes with your hands as you add them. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring frequently and scraping up any brown bits. Cook until sauce thickens, about 8 minutes.
  4. Add in the cream, paneer, and peas. Season to taste with salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 15-20 minutes. Serve with rice.
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅙th of recipe

Curry for dinner!

saag paneer

Saag Paneer

aloo gobi

Aloo Gobi

dal makhani

Dal Makhani

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42 Responses to Paneer Tikka Masala

  1. Kathryn says:

    I love curries made with paneer although I don’t eat them that often and don’t think I’ve ever made one at home. I’m going to have to change that because this looks so delicious!

  2. Oh man, this looks so good! I would risk the hot oil for it, even though that is one of the MAIN reasons why I don’t make doughnuts..

  3. Sune Moolman says:

    Keep the curry recipes coming! Just love the combination of spices you used in this. And the cream. 🙂

  4. Erica says:

    The color of this dish is beautiful! The spices used in Indian cooking are so great, I love the smell even though it’s a little strong for some. Great recipe Joanne! 🙂

  5. Ugh, before our one and only Indian restaurant closed, paneer tikka masala was my favvvvorite. It’s been like a year since they closed, and I’m obviously having withdrawls. Looks SO tasty. Hopefully I can find paneer! I definitely don’t mind risking a burn or two if it means this is the end reward.

  6. You are my cheese frying hero. You’re giving me courage. In the meantime, I’m just going to stare at these gorgeous pictures and see if I can’t will them into existence in my kitchen. 🙂

  7. This sounds amazing, Joanne! Love paneer and curry!

  8. YUM. Spicy, cheesy, fry-y yum. Just one tiny thing…I don’t know how to fry! I need to–I MUST–learn, and I’m thinking maybe this is my path to frying freedom. Because if there’s anything that’s really worth working for, it’s def fried cheese.

  9. Pam says:

    And yet… it’s worth every painful moment. It looks incredible Joanne.

  10. Heather says:

    Frying anything makes me nervous, but cheese… so worth it.

  11. Julia says:

    STOP IT! Fried cheese + creamy masala sauce?! A meal of the Gods I tell you! I can’t believe I’ve never had paneer, but I’m 200% sure I’d take to it instantly considering I’m obsessed with all the cheeses. Calories don’t count when you’re in heaven, so there’s that. 😉

  12. cquek says:

    I love everything about them.

  13. Yes yes and YES! Amazing meal for any day during the week!

  14. Lynn says:

    Golly – that looks good! The pain might be worth it. 🙂

  15. Kate says:

    Frying anything is always a bit of a mess.

  16. In all honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a masala look that decadent before. This just looks amazing. And frying anything can be a challenge, I never want to lift up my splatter screen lol. Loved this post. I hope to see you at my new blog next week.

    Kay of Pure & Complex

  17. Eileen says:

    Paneer is the best! THE BEST. I may have to go to the Indian buffet for lunch very soon now. Or, you know, seek out some paneer to fry at home. Have you ever made your own paneer? It’s surprisingly easy! The end result is crumblier, so it’s much harder to fry, but oh man, fresh homemade paneer in a curry is still something to try. 🙂

  18. Gorgeous! And I would say definitely worth the pain!

  19. Candice says:

    Looks delicious!

  20. i could deal with all the hot oil in the world to have a few bites of this. . damn, looks soooo good!

  21. Sues says:

    If cheese frying is an extreme sport, I must be an athlete. Cool! Haha I want to dive into an extra-large bowl of this!

  22. This looks amazing! Paneer makhani (tikka masala, butter paneer, whatever) is my FAVE. Love the creamy sauce 🙂

  23. DIVINE – Joanne – just looks soooooooooo good.

  24. I’m thinking frying tofu falls into the same category as frying cheese: worth the dangers involved! This looks lovely, and I’m now craving Indian food even more than I already was.

  25. Lori R. says:

    Fried anything should be an Xtreme sport! And I lack skills, but I keep trying. Paneer is one of life’s best pleasures. Man, I love that stuff. This looks outstanding!

  26. Zainab says:

    i will risk the hot oil any day for tikka masala. This is what dreams are made of 🙂

  27. I want to dig in that gorgeous saucy gravy!

  28. mira says:

    Looks so good Joanne! Don’t mind hot oil, if I’ll be eating this! Pinned!

  29. easypeasy says:

    Gotta try this! We love Tikka Masala at our house! 🙂

  30. Hotly Spiced says:

    My daughter also has burn marks right up her arm but not from hot oil, from sparklers. Don’t ask! I love the look of your curry. Great comfort food right there xx

  31. Kelly says:

    This looks so comforting and delicious! I just want to dive right in head first! Totally worth the risk of hot oil.

  32. I like to view my burn scars as badges of honor for accomplishing delicious dishes. So this creamy, cheesy situation? SO worth another burn.

  33. Yes! This is one of my favorite meals that I never really make at home. Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  34. This looks amazing. I have been looking for a recipe to cook with paneer for ages.

    I really felt like jumping into the screen to eat this!


  35. One of my favorite dishes! Looks amazing.

  36. Hot oil and I are definitely not easy company for each other. This looks delicious though!

  37. Lisa says:

    I bet you knew I would love this. One of my favorites and I could probably eat it for days on end and not tire of it.

  38. I LOVE paneer. Yours looks so perfectly browned! The sauce sounds amazing, too.

  39. Sarah says:

    Omg you made the paneer tikka masala!! This looks divine 🙂 I love it!

  40. Weekly Love says:

    […] This paneer tikka masala looks amazing! I’m going to give it a go soon, for […]

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