This post is a collection of the best, easiest, and most simple paneer recipes you can make for a healthy, protein-packed vegetarian Indian breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner.
What is paneer?
Paneer or Ponir, or Indian cottage cheese, is a non-aged and non-melting soft cheese prepared by curdling milk with acidic ingredients like lemon juice or vinegar. Most vegetarians in India consume paneer as it is rich in protein and calcium. You can use homemade or store-bought paneer to make paneer dishes.
If you are interested in making paneer at home from scratch, you can check my full-detailed recipe for homemade paneer here.
Popular paneer recipes
In India, if you visit any restaurant, a small hotel, or a dhaba, you will see paneer butter masala (paneer makhani), palak paneer, and paneer tikka masala on the menu. Paneer butter masala is an all-time crowd favorite, and palak paneer is especially loved or consumed during the winter when leafy greens are available in plenty.
Apart from these gravies, you can use paneer to make dry snacks, appetizers, sweets, and desserts or even stuffed flatbreads such as parathas and kulchas for breakfast. The options are endless.
The best part is you can use the same masala or curry base to prepare chicken dishes. Simply substitute paneer with grilled or roasted chicken.
Some basic paneer dishes
If you are a beginner when it comes to cooking paneer dishes, then try some simple dishes at first. For example, add paneer to your rice to prepare paneer pulao, or mix it with green peas to make a quick Matar paneer curry.
If you love tikka or kebab prepared with chicken, then next time, substitute chicken with paneer to make paneer tikka and surprise your guests.
You can mix grate paneer, some basic spices, sauteed onions, and salt and use it as a filling to prepare steaming hot paneer momos.
Or dip paneer slices in chickpea-flour batter and deep fry them in oil to make paneer pakora (fritters).
You can also pan-roast paneer slices with a dash of salt and toss them in your green salads instead of tofu.
Mix grated paneer with sauteed onion, tomatoes, and green chilies to make paneer bhurji instead of egg bhurji.
Vegetarian Indian meal combo
You can serve any paneer gravy or curry with Indian flatbreads like naan, roti, chapati, ghee rice, or jeera rice to make a complete Indian meal. You can check different Indian bread recipes that can be served with paneer dishes.
Paneer curry and paneer gravy recipes
In this section, I have covered some of the simple and easy paneer curries and paneer gravies where onion-tomato masala is used as the base. Just like at restaurants and dhabas, these paneer dishes can be served with Indian flatbreads such as roti, naan, chapati, phulka, etc. You can even serve it with steamed rice, jeera rice, ghee rice, etc.
Some of the popular and favorite paneer gravy and curry are
- Paneer butter masala, also called paneer makhani or butter paneer
- Matar paneer or green peas and paneer gravy
- Jain-style palak paneer without onion and garlic, you can also try this during vrat, fasting, and upvas days.
- Veg kadai or Kadai paneer - You can use only paneer or combine it with all veggies, just like we do.
- Very basic paneer curry popular as vrat wale paneer curry using basic ingredients from your kitchen.
- Healthy and nutritious hariyali paneer using green leafy vegetables of your choice
- Traditional palak paneer recipe from scratch
Paneer appetizers, Paneer dry recipes
This is one of my favorite sections, as it contains some easy paneer dry recipes and appetizers that you can prepare in less than 20 minutes.
- Paneer in Butter Garlic Cream Sauce
- Paneer Pepper Dry
- Peri Peri Paneer with addictive Cheese Sauce
- Paneer Chilli or Manchurian - an easy method.
Paneer main dishes
You can add paneer as the main ingredient while making rice dishes like biryani or pulao. You can also grate it and add it as stuffing for your naan, kulcha, or paratha. Use it even as toppings for dosa and pizza. Some of my favorites are
- Paneer Paratha
- Thai-style Vegetable Fried Rice
- Breadless Sandwich or Eggless Omelette - Protein-packed weight loss recipe
Paneer sweets and desserts
Paneer is also used to make some of the famous Indian sweets and desserts like jalebi, rasgulla, halwa, burfi, sondesh, kheer, kalakand, etc.
Some of the best desserts with paneer include
- Instant Paneer Jalebi
- Rasgulla and Rasmalai from scratch
- Indian Cheesecake or Milk Cake called Kalakand
Vegan simple paneer recipes
For all those who are on a vegan diet and still want to try these paneer recipes, substitute paneer with tofu (extra firm variety) and follow the recipe instructions. You can also check out the below recipes prepared using vegan paneer (tofu).
- Noodle Soup
- Fried Tofu or Paneer with Thai Special Sauce
- Honey Sriracha Tofu
- Spicy Basil Tofu
- Tofu Bhurji
Recipes in which you can use paneer as a substitute
All recipes which use chicken or potatoes as main ingredients can be substituted with paneer. Below are some dishes where you can easily substitute chicken or potatoes with paneer. Like chicken kathi rolls, paneer kati rolls are a very popular street food where you use paneer as the main ingredient. You can add paneer to methi pulao and make methi paneer pulao, add marinated paneer instead of chicken to make the delicious paneer biryani, or grate and add it in samosa filling to make paneer samosa, and so on.
- Chicken Kathi Rolls
- Methi Rice (Pulao)
- Chicken Biryani
- Crispy Honey Chilli Potatoes
- Mini Veg Puffs
- Chicken Tikka
- Cajun Potatoes
Paneer is called Indian cottage cheese and differs from cottage cheese sold in American grocery stores. Paneer is available in the refrigerator section of most Asian or Indian grocery stores.
Yes, like most cheeses, paneer can be eaten raw. Paneer is prepared by curdling cow or buffalo's milk with acid like vinegar or lemon juice. Optionally, you can flavor the paneer curds with different herbs, spices, and salt before they are shaped into blocks. Being a non-melting cheese, you can cook paneer further to prepare your favorite paneer dishes.
If you are on weight loss and a vegetarian, your dietician will most likely recommend you to eat paneer as it is one of the best sources of calcium and protein and packed with healthy fats.
If you are vegan, use tofu instead of paneer in all recipes.
Paneer is available in the refrigerator aisle of most Indian or Asian Grocery stores.
Other Indian Recipes
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Simple Paneer Recipes | Easy Paneer Recipe Collection
- Muslin cloth or Cheesecloth
- Large vessel or pot
Ingredients to make Paneer Cheese
- 1 Gallon Whole milk ( 4 liters)
- ½ cup Lemon juice or vinegar (you may have to adjust the amount here)
- Salt, to taste (optional)
- Keep milk on medium heat and bring it to a slow boil. Once the milk boils, switch off the flame.1 Gallon Whole milk ( 4 liters)
- Add lemon juice or vinegar little by little and stir slowly untill the milk curdles. Do not add everything at once because the amount you require may vary.½ cup Lemon juice or vinegar (you may have to adjust the amount here)
- If the milk does not curdle or separate, then add an additional 1 to 2 tablespoon lemon juice. Let this stand for about 2 to 4 minutes.
- Place a cheesecloth in a colander and strain the paneer-whey mixture through the cheesecloth. You can now rinse with cold water to remove the lemon flavor.
- Tie the cheesecloth with a knot and then hang it to your kitchen faucet for about 15 minutes to let all the whey drain through it.
- Open the knot, and season the paneer with salt and knead it till it's soft and smooth. It should not be crumblier. To prepare dishes like bhurji, you may use paneer at this stage.Salt, to taste (optional)
- Tie the cheesecloth and then place a heavy weight on top of it and refrigerate for a couple of hours. I keep it overnight. If you are preparing a sweet dish like rasgulla or rasmalai do not refrigerate. Just keep it outside for 1 hour.
- Cut them into cubes and use them in your favorite dishes as needed.