A sweet and spicy cottage cheese recipe or Paneer Makhani from India

A sweet and spicy cottage cheese recipe or Paneer Makhani from India

Nuts, apricots, tomatoes and minimal spices grace this dish

Paneer Makhani
Paneer Makhani Image Credit: Supplied/Roobaru Indian Restaurant, Dubai

Makhani is an Indian regional Punjabi word that means ‘butter’. Basically, any Indian dish cooked in rich butter or cream gets the makhani title. The gravy is usually tomato-based, with a bold ginger flavour, balanced by the sweet tinge of ground cashew nuts.

You will find several dishes that are cooked makhani style. For instance, you have dal makhani, mildly spiced black lentils slow-cooked for hours in butter, and murgh or chicken makhani and paneer or cottage cheese makhani. It’s an excellent base for vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, especially if you are cooking for a special occasion. Makhani happens to be one of those traditional dishes and customary too, specially reserved for guests.

Dal Makhani
Dal Makhani Image Credit: Supplied

Gulf News food team has an easy to make paneer or cottage cheese makhani dish. You need a few staple Indian spices, onions, tomatoes, some dried nuts and cottage cheese, which can either be made at home in under 30 minutes or pick it up from a store near you. In either case, make sure the paneer is fresh.

Here is a recipe to making paneer recipe at home

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Serves: 2 


300 gms onion or 2 medium sized

3 to 4 tomatoes 

40 gms coriander root, around 3 tbsp

8 gms green chillies or 3 to 4 pieces

50 gms Kashmiri red chillies or 4 tbsp (as per preferance)

50 gms ginger or 2 tbsp

50 gms garlic or 2 tbsp 

10 gms cumin powder or 1 tsp 

4 gms dried fenugreek or 1/2 tsp 

50 ml sunflower oil or 4 tbsp 

100 ml cream or 6 tbsp

60 gms butter or 4.5 tbsp 

10 gms salt 1 tsp 

Chives for garnish

For the cottage cheese filling

10 gms apricot 

5 gms pistachio 

1 gm green chilies or 1 to 2 pieces 

2 gms coriander 

12 gms almond

200 gms cottage cheese

4 gms salt


1. Wash all the vegetables thoroughly. Roughly chop the onions, coriander, green chillies, Kashmiri chilli, ginger and garlic.

2. In a pan, sauté all the roughly chopped vegetables until they turn soft or golden brown. Once done, allow it to cool for some time before transferring it into a blender.

3. Then, blend this mixture into a smooth paste. Do not add water here; you can add hot water to the gravy while cooked, only if required. The gravy should be smooth. If you think it is coarse, pass it through a strainer.

4. After that, take a pan to heat oil; about 2 tbsp should be good. Transfer the tomato blend, cook the gravy for a few minutes (8 to 10), and add butter and cream.

5. If you are using store brought paneer or cottage cheese, soak it in hot water for about 10 to 15 minutes. This way, the hard block of paneer will soften. However, try out this recipe if you want to make homemade paneer. Then, cut them into cubes and keep aside.

Time to make the filling

1. Finely chop all the nuts, season to taste and stuff them into the paneer cubes. Slit the paneer, to fill in the chopped nuts.

2. Then, heat oil in a pan,

3. Once you have stuffed the paneer, take a non-stick pan, add some oil and sear the filled paneer on both sides.

4. Then, go back to the gravy or makhani. Add dried fenugreek and a dollop of butter to it and turn off the heat. Add enough butter for a rich flavour, the key to an excellent makhani.

Note. Do not cook the makhani after adding fenugreek leaves, or else the mildly sweet gravy might start tasting bitter. And to get the most out of dried fenugreek leaves, dry roast them for a few seconds, crush them using your palms and then add them in.

5. Pour the makhani into a serving bowl and place the charred paneer in the center.

Serve hot with tandoori roti or naan. The gravy tastes nice with steaming hot rice, too, with a side of sliced onions to munch on.

Recipe courtesy: Gaurav Yadav, Head Chef at Roobaru, Burj Khalifa Boulevard

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