Paneer Tikka Masala (with Homemade Paneer!)

This easy paneer tikka masala recipe features homemade paneer and red bell pepper. This is a simple vegetarian Indian recipe the whole family will love! 

paneer tikka masala on white plate next to box of tikka masala sauce and homemade paneer cheese

What is Paneer Tikka Masala?

You’re probably very familiar with two popular Indian dishes, saag paneer and mattar paneer, both of which showcase the delicate, milky taste of fresh curd cheese. However, paneer tikka masala is slightly different from these two dishes in that it’s made with a spiced tomato-based sauce. Paneer tikka masala is a wonderful vegetarian alternative to chicken tikka masala, and is so much easier to make yourself since there’s no chicken to be cooked or marinated.

Of course, you can buy paneer at the store, but consider making it at home this one time. Making homemade paneer — by simply adding a bit of acid (vinegar or lemon juice) to milk — is super easy! And by just adding one of Sukhi’s Curry Sauces, like Tikka Masala, you can have one of your favorite restaurant dishes at home in under an hour.

How to Make Paneer

Homemade paneer sounds scary to make, but it’s actually a fairly straightforward process that takes less than an hour to complete. To make paneer, you’ll need whole milk, buttermilk, and white vinegar, as well as a cheesecloth. First, bring the whole milk to a gentle boil in a large saucepan, stirring occasionally to prevent it from burning. Add the buttermilk to the saucepan and let the mixture sit until milk solids begin to form. Then stir in the vinegar to achieve the final separation.

Next, carefully pour the milk mixture into a cheesecloth-lined colander. Twist the cheesecloth to squeeze out any excess whey, then let it drain over your kitchen sink for a few minutes. Once properly drained, place the cheesecloth onto a plate and put another plate on top of the ball of paneer. Stack heavy items (such as cans and cookbooks) atop the plate, and let the paneer rest for 20 to 45 minutes on your countertop. Note that the longer you let the paneer rest, the firmer the cheese will become.

Tips for the Best Paneer Tikka Masala

This vegetarian tikka masala recipe is incredibly easy to make, but there are a few things to keep in mind while making this dish:

  • Whole milk and real buttermilk are key when making homemade paneer. You can’t substitute a lower fat milk in this recipe!
  • Diced bell pepper adds a pop of fresh flavor to this dish and keeps this recipe simple. However, you’re welcome to add in additional chopped veggies as well.
  • If you don’t have time to make homemade paneer, feel free to buy pre-made paneer at the store instead.

More Vegetarian Indian Recipes:

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