Paneer Balti Masala is a very popular paneer recipe from Indian and Pakistani restaurants in Britain. Fresh soft chunks of paneer in a bucket of spicy tomato gravy taste absolutely incredible in this paneer curry recipe. This is a semi-rich paneer curry made with freshly toasted and ground whole spices served in a special dish which is known as called Balti.
Balti Paneer Curry just like Chicken Tikka Masala finds it's origin from British Indian cuisine. You will hardly find these dishes in India. As for any other chicken dish, vegetarians have adapted the Chicken Balti to Balti Paneer recipe. If you like to try another British curry you can try this Paneer Tikka Masala.
Balti curries are generally ready in 20 minutes. The ingredients are lesser, no creamy milk or yoghurt to subdue the flavours of whole spices. It is a blend of the restaurant way of cooking on high flame with rustic focus on bringing out the flavours of spices and base ingredients. This dish has its own charm which is pleasing to the taste buds.
I have had the opportunity to taste Paneer Balti masala in the streets of Birmingham. It is cooked in a different style but with the same spices as most Indian paneer curry recipes. The taste is not far away from our dhabas. It has a hint of Pahari cuisine because of the ratio of oil and whole spices which goes in it.
The ravishing red-brown colour of this curry shows how well the masalas are toasted. I sometimes like to use my homemade bhuna masala paste which further reduces the cooking time. I sure feel like a kitchen ninja when I make such dishes under 20 minutes or even less with the meal prep!
A food for thought is how did balti dishes become a patent of Birmingham, U.K! There are many restaurants called ‘balti houses’ clustered in a lane towards the south of Birmingham city centre. Just like Tikka Masala dishes balti masala is also mostly a British dish. I think that with lots of Indian and Pakistani people in that area they adapted Indian curries to suit the British palette. Who could have predicted the craze of Indian spices will spread like a forest fire. Coming back to this tasty curry.
If you are a vegetarian my guess is you are cooking it at-least twice a week. You can easily add Paneer at least twice in your weekly meal plans. It is rich in calcium and proteins and even helps produce fat burning acids! You can include it as a curry such as a paneer do pyaza, tamatar wala paneer, paneer ghee roast or a simple matar paneer, the list of paneer recipes on MTC is exhaustive. I think tandoori paneer tikka would also work great in this balti curry. When your main ingredient is a clean canvas like paneer the possibilities are endless.
I love cooking balti paneer masala because it is easy and tastes just as heavenly as the slow cooked paneer curries. The only cautionary word while cooking on high flame continuously is the constant stirring. The proportions of oil and masalas are different from the regular paneer butter masala curry. This is a more intense, aromatic and rich curry base which goes great with paneer or meat. It is an apt dish to choose for days you want to ditch your healthy habits for the joy of cooking.
Paneer Balti Masala (Recipe Notes)
- Use a non-stick Kadhai or medium pan if you do not have a balti dish. An iron Kadai will work just fine.
- You can also lightly tawa fry the paneer cubes for extra flavour.
- You can reduce the oil in the curry if you are on a diet and still want to have this superb curry.
- I put the salt after the water content of onion and tomatoes is evaporated. This will enhance the taste of the curry.
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Watch Video Recipe - Paneer Balti Masala
For Balti Masala
- 1 inch Cinnamon dalchini
- 4 pieces of cardamom elaichi
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds sarso
- ½ teaspoon fenugreek methi dana
- 1 teaspoon fennel saunf
- 1 teaspoon cumin jeera
- 3-4 dry red chilli sukhi lal mirch
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder dhania
- 1 teaspoon red chilli powder lal mirch
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder haldi
- 1 teaspoon black pepper kali mirch powder
For Making Gravy
- ¼ onion finely chopped (pyaz)
- 1 ½ tablespoon green chilli and ginger paste mirch aur adrak paste
- ½ cup tomatoes chopped( tamatar )
- ¼ cup tomato puree pisa hua tamatar
- 200 grams Paneer indian cottage cheese
- 4 tablespoons oil tel
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- A pinch of dried fenugreek leaves kasuri methi
- Few stands of coriander leaves chopped ( hara dhania)
- 1 cup water
- Salt to taste
- Put a nonstick pan on medium flame and Dry roast cinnamon, cardamom,mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin and dry red chillies .
- Grind these roasted masalas in a mixer to make balti masala.
- In a small bowl mix coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, black pepper powder and keep aside.
- In a round bottom balti dish or pan heat some oil.
- Add chopped onions and saute well.
- Now add green chilli and ginger paste and keep stirring till the onions are slightly cooked( about 2-3 minutes on high flame.)
- Add chopped tomatoes and tomato puree and mix well.
- Put 3 tablespoons of the balti masala prepared from toasted masalas.
- Mix well and add a little water ( about 2 tablespoons).
- When this dry gravy looks dark and roasted add the diced paneer and stir well.
- Sprinkle some salt to taste, add some water and let it cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Now add vinegar and a pinch of dried fenugreek leaves.
- Stir and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Take it off heat and garnish with some fresh coriander.
- Serve hot with crispy parathas, steamed rice and some fresh salad.