Paneer Masala

Makes 1 Serving


  • 2 tbsp black cardamom pods
  • 7 bay leaves
  • 5 cinnamon sticks
  • 1½ cups water

For Masala Sauce

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp whole cumin
  • ¼ cup ginger, minced
  • ¼ cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander, ground
  • pinch of ground turmeric
  • pinch of ground cumin
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • salt to taste

To Finish

  • ¾ cup cream
  • 1 tbsp fenugreek leaves
  • 1 cup paneer (Indian fresh farm cheese), cut into ¾” cubes
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • salt for seasoning (optional)
  • basmati rice or naan for serving


Heat & Steep Spices

  1. Place a small sauté pan over high heat. Toast cardamom, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks at last 20 seconds to release essential oils
  2. Add 1½ cups water to pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and allow spices to steep in water while beginning sauce

Prepare Masala Sauce

  1. Heat oil in separate medium sauté pan over medium-high
  2. Add whole cumin to oil and stir. Add onions and sauté 1 minute. Add turmeric and coriander, stir
  3. Add crushed tomatoes, ¼ cup water, chili powder. Season with salt to taste
  4. With a fine mesh strainer, strain the steeped spice water into the sauté pan of sauce. Stir and allow to simmer and reduce, until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes

Add Cream, Fenugreek & Paneer

  1. Finish with cream, fenugreek leaves, and paneer
  2. Allow to simmer 1 minute longer, then garnish with cilantro
  3. Serve with basmati rice or naan

Note: Making paneer at home is a very simple process: bring ½ gallon of whole milk to a boil. Once it starts to boil and foam in saucepan, remove from heat and add 2 tbsp lemon or lime juice. Stir until the curds separate from the whey. Allow the mixture to sit (to develop the curds) for 10-15 minutes. Strain through a double layer of cheesecloth. When it is cool to the touch, form into a ball through the cheesecloth, and strain any remaining moisture. Flatten onto a plate into a disk with the help of a heavy-bottomed saucepan. The cheese can be cut and used immediately