Recipe: Saucy Spiced Paneer & Tomato Curry

You’ve got to move when the inspiration hits!

Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.

– Benjamin Franklin

I must admit, weekends at our house are pretty darned nice.

After a busy week (which usually doesn’t feel long at all), we all hunker down to enjoy some quality home time together, and this weekend was no exception.

I had plenty of time to catch up with my new computer – (and this is the first post I have written on it – yay!) – and with the newer, cleaner, faster and more efficient tool came a rush of energy to tackle a few big things.

So I cleaned the cupboards. Yes, the full treatment! Spices, bulk food, you name it. It was a whole day after which me and the girls trekked to the store to re-stock the ‘must-haves’ we were low on, and headed home to make dinner.

And it was Indian night by request!

If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.

– Albert Einstein

I have mentioned before that Indian food is a family favorite, and a good dinner out to us is treating at an authentic Indian restaurant.

Hands down, our favorite dish is called ‘Malai Kofta’ – otherwise known as Indian cheese (paneer) cooked in cream sauce with an added bit of (delectable) taste and texture in a generous addition of ground cashews. Yum.

Whatever you do, you should do it with feeling.

~ Yogi Berra

This recipe was from an early attempt I made (about 3-4 years ago) that was not far from the real thing. In last night’s version, I made a few changes, attempting to ‘lighten it’ ever so slightly by subbing what was entirely full cream for mostly milk.

To my strict vegan readers, I know this might be not easily veganized, but I am sure there are plenty of you who could share your own fabulous vegan Indian dishes with all of us (and don’t be shy, Richa at Hobby and More, that was for you!).

Make no mistake, this dish is a treat. It’s full of delicious rich ingredients that are to be eaten sparingly (ideally). It’s nice to treat the family to a meal like this, and we enjoy every last bite.

I hope you will too!

Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.

~Benjamin Franklin

The Less:

Less store-bought jarred spice mixes means more real fresh ingredients, less waste and more cash left over. Less super heavy cream means (just a little) fewer calories, and less wondering if you can cook Indian means knowing that yes, in fact, you can.

The More:

More home cooked, yummy foods means more reasons to stay in together. More spice and variety means you can break free of flavor doldrums. More fresh rich ingredients, means taking pleasure is more satisfying, even if you need just a little.

Saucy Spiced Paneer & Tomato Curry:

  • ( 2) medium-large onions, or 3 smaller onions, peeled and quartered
  • (3) tbsp butter, ghee, or canola oil
  • (2) tsp salt


  • (2) tbsp chopped fresh ginger
  • (2) tbsp fresh garlic, chopped
  • (2) tsp cumin ground
  • (2) tsp ground coriander
  • (1) tsp chili powder or cayenne


  • (1) 398 ml can chopped tomatoes
  • (3) tsp sugar
  • (1/2 – 1) cup ground cashews, raw (grind to medium fine)
  • (1) cup heavy cream
  • (2) cups homogenized milk


  • (2) tsp Garam Masala spice mixture (available in most grocery store spice sections and they vary greatly)
  • (1) pound Paneer, cubed to one inch cubes (available in specialty grocery stores, and adventurous folks – you can make your own!)
  • (1) tsp vinegar (optional)

Heat oil in a large saucepan at medium-high until hot. Add the chopped onions and salt and turn to medium heat. Cover and cook, checking every 5 minutes to stir, for 20 minutes.

Prepare the rest of the ingredients while the onions cook.

Once the onions are soft and quite brown, add the ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, and cayenne, and cook, on medium heat for 5 minutes until fragrant. Make sure to actively stir the mixture to prevent burning of the delicate (and delicious spices)!

Add the tomatoes and sugar, and continue to cook until well incorporated, about another 5 minutes.

Using a hand blender, or a blender, puree this mixture until blended through. Return to the stove and turn heat to medium-low. Bring the mixture back to temperature (about 5 minutes) and add the cream, milk, garam masala spice, paneer cubes, and ground cashews.

Simmer for 15 minutes or so, uncovered on medium-low. Stir frequently to keep it from sticking or burning on the bottom – this is very important!

At the end, season again to taste, and add vinegar if you like – I find it adds a little zing to the creamy base and livens the flavors very nicely.

Serve hot with rice or naan – and enjoy every yummy morsel! πŸ™‚

This dish pairs excellently with any rice dish, broiled naan bread, and perhaps some animal protein such as tandoori chicken like my husband enjoys (but me and the girls pass on).

In my next post, I’ll share with you the yummy recipe for cumin rice with peas that we ate with this last night, as well as the refreshing shredded brussels sprout salad too πŸ™‚

Both of those are vegan (or vegan adaptable), and contrasted beautifully with this dish.

Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.

~ Henry David Thoreau

Fortune favors the brave.

~ Virgil

If you only look at what is, you might never attain what could be.

~ Anonymous

So whether you are an experienced cook with the amazing world of Indian flavors or not, this dish gets a thumbs up in this house, and that is usually enough to make me smile into the next day for sure.

This post is also a little deviance from the smoothies and juices I’ve been sharing – and a delicious way to tuck into something rich and soothing!

No matter what happens, it is within my power to turn it to my advantage.

– Epictetus

Fresh shredded brussels sprout salad made a perfect side – my next post!

I made another change this week that I’ll keep under my hat a few more days. I want to see if I can make it stick. It’s (relatively) small, but if I can do this, will be HUGE to me. I’ll keep you all posted πŸ˜‰

  • Are you familiar with paneer?
  • If so, have you ever made it?
  • What is your favorite Indian dish (assuming you like it of course)

Let us know, will you?

Stay tuned for the accompaniments in my next post (they are yummy, and easy!) and have a great start to the week friends, and (as always) a giant thanks for reading and for your comments!

Yours in Less,


Filed under Cooking, Food, Gluten Free, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Vegetarian

79 responses to “Recipe: Saucy Spiced Paneer & Tomato Curry

  1. what a lovely blog you have. love the food and nice photos. you have made me hungry for indian food now!

  2. Hello from Shanghai, I love Indian food, haven’t make my own Paneer curry yet so thank you for the recipe but I made Chana Masala a lot since its quite easy to find the ingredients here in China πŸ™‚

  3. 1. Can you please come and clean out my cupboards? P L E A S E ?
    2. This dish looks fabulous. I love paneer (but have never cooked with it). My favourite Indian dish is Palak Paneer. Yummo! πŸ™‚
    3. DYING to hear about the change to which you refer. Talk about suspense!!!

    Cheers from Syders

    • Oh my dear friend..I would love to!! It’s so exhausting but feels so good when done…like many things must prioritize – and I was so overdue!!
      I love anything with paneer and Palak Paneer – is that one with spinach? If so I love, but you really can’t go wrong!
      Stay tuned, though it’s FAR from earth shattering but a longtime on the ‘must cultivate this habit’ list!! πŸ™‚ Cheers back from rainy Vancity!

  4. stardustcoyote

    Paneer and I have a love at first bite kind of relationship. My Indian roommate brought some home one day and I couldn’t stop eating it. I was living in San Francisco then and good paneer tikka masala was easy to find. I’m having such a hard time even finding it AT ALL in San Diego. I’ve been trying to find a good recipe to make it on my own and this one looks so delicious I can’t wait to try it. Thank you so much for the post and the wonderful pictures. Cannot wait to try this recipe and get my paneer fix πŸ™‚

  5. We LOVE Indian food, so this recipe will be a nice addition. I’ve never made paneer, I just buy it (our COSTCO carries it). I think Vikram Vij is a genius and I have both of his cookbooks. I have never made any of his recipes that I didn’t love.
    What is your favorite place to go for Indian food in Vancouver? We visit Vancouver pretty regularly and we’re always looking for new restaurants to try…

    • Awesome!! Vij’s first book has a delicious paneer recipe with brussels sprouts, and roasted cashews (as far as I recall) and it’s delish! I have his first book and we eat there a few times a year (when we can get past the line!) I am lucky to count him as somewhat of a neighbour and his resto is moving a few blocks away from my house soon! We are looking forward to that! πŸ™‚
      So our faves in Vancouver? Of course Vij’s, but for cheap and easy, we used to hit Tandoori King (authentic and soooo good) in South Fraser but they had a fire and closed just a few months ago!! So we went to a new place in Gastown just last weekend…still on the hunt for a good Tandoori King replacement as they were (are?) a Vancouver institution and relatively cheap too πŸ™‚
      Another goody is House of Dosa..
      Phew, what a mouthful…I hope that is helpful! Hope you are well too, thanks for stopping in! πŸ™‚

      • Lucky you to have Vij for a neighbor! I’ve only eaten at his restaurant once, but I was lucky enough to attend a cooking class/dinner that he conducted here in Bellingham a couple years ago. It was an experience I will never forget!
        Thanks for the other restaurant tips, we’ll have to try those next time we are in town. Vancouver has the best food!

      • Yes it does! Vikram is quite a dynamic and amazing personality – he is easily one of the best things about Vancouver’s food scene πŸ™‚ Enjoy your next trip up! xox!

  6. What a great recipe! I love indian food…although I can’t tolerate as much of it now that I have to avoid garlic and onions. Sad I know…but my favourite kind of curry used to be rogan josh πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Sarah!! I’m with you a little on the garlic and onions – are you allergic? I am not allergic but def. a little sensitive so I watch my intake carefully or I pay! Sometimes I think I would do well as a buddhist as they avoid those two entirely (or so I have heard) they are deemed ‘unclean’ in some beliefs. What is Rogan Josh? I am intrigued!

  7. oh my gosh that looks and sounds so good! i love how you phototgraph the spices you use too!! very creative! and i can’t wait for the brussels sprouts salad! yay! thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks Caralyn!! It is even totally gluten free – that is one amazingly great benefit to Indian Foods isn’t it? Of course tougher for GF Vegans but I am sure there are talented folks that could make a yummy tofu version! Stay tuned – thanks for stopping in! xo! πŸ™‚

  8. That looks just amazing. And doesn’t it feel so good to clean out the cupboards? I do it so rarely that it is always a real treat. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Emmy! It does feel so good!! I just wish it stayed that way for longer..but one can always hope πŸ˜‰ At least I try and will enjoy the calm (and being able to find stuff) while it lasts! Have a great night!! πŸ™‚

  9. Whatever you do, do with feeling – Beautiful! And absolutely my motto. Shira pls read my latest post – do if you want to otherwise don’t.

    Love this Paneer recipe. Do you like spicy stuff?

    • Thanks Ishita! I do like spicy stuff but have to keep things mellow so the kids can still eat it – I love that motto too, I am happy it resonated with you as well πŸ™‚
      I will head over to your post for sure Ishita! xo!

  10. I love a good Indian food night! This looks so satisfying and the photography is just stunning. I love your marbled wooden cutting board- it really stands out.

    Congrats on the new computer and the clean cupboards. A fresh start always feels so great! πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Kristy – it does feel great to be able to find stuff better again – amazing the number of *doubles* I found, mostly of the ‘must-haves’ like ground pepper (so many back up bags!). Thanks for your lovely comments re: the photos, and isn’t that board gorgeous? I love it too, and it was a gift to my husband from my daughter, his own cheese board, and now, a great photo prop! πŸ™‚ Thanks again!

  11. Jealous of the new computer and my cupboards need a thorough clean – there are random ingredients EVERYWHERE! You know this is definitely my sort of thing – looks like a really delicious curry. I couldn’t agree more with both the less and the more, Shira!

    • Thanks Nick! I am in awe of the new clean look of your blog too – did you make big changes as it looks amazing! I know we share in the love of cooking good curry from scratch, it is just the only way! πŸ™‚ So glad you agree on my less and more thoughts too!

      • Thanks! Well, I got a new camera (as you know) and changed the theme so the pictures are bigger and the whole looks is a little cleaner. It really is the only way, I’m glad we’re there together :D. I usually do to be honest, Shira!

      • Well, it was well worth it from what I can see. The changes are fab and the new camera has already proved it’s worth a few times over πŸ™‚ Well done!

      • Oh yes, absolutely! you’ll like the cake I’m posting tomorrow :D. Thanks, Shira!

  12. This curry looks really delicious! I love Indian food, this would be perfect with some Naan!

  13. I am an Indian and this looks like the real thing πŸ™‚ making me drool! May be this will get me to start making more Indian curries at home πŸ™‚ Btw, Malai kofta is our favourite too and had it just yesterday!

    • Wow – that is cool! I always get a little nervous posting Indian as I am entirely self taught with this stuff – glad to hear it looks like the real thing! πŸ™‚ Thank you!

  14. alexsondra

    Love this post, I’m going to try this recipe, even if it’s only for me. My husband and son don’t care for indian food. Great pics, and the quotes add wonderful inspiration as well as visual texture to your site. If you keep writing these mouth watering delights, people might start inviting themselves over.

    • Thank you Alexsondra! If it helps, this is the only curry my (very picky) 8 year old will eat. She smothers her rice in the sauce and won’t touch the paneer but that is good enough for us! Glad you are enjoying, and thank you for stopping by! πŸ™‚

  15. myhealthyohana

    Wow, this looks so delicious! I love saag paneer, but never made attempted to make Indian food by myself. Will have to give it a try!

    • Thanks! It is super easy once you get the hang of it, the trick is just to stay present while cooking and to always have your ingredients prepared in advance! Best of luck, and thanks again! πŸ™‚

  16. This recipe looks like pure bliss! I never tried paneer before I gave up dairy and now since I have been avoiding dairy for so long, I have a serious lactose intolerance! Which has been a pretty good reason for me to keep dairy out lol. I wish I had tired it though, because this looks mouth watering!

    Indian is one of my favourite cuisines as well πŸ™‚ I have had a hankering for it for so long! I might just need to satisfy this craving tonight!

    Yay for the new computer and cleaning the kitchen up! Must feel great! I will probably need a new computer soon too- mine gets so hot and makes a lot of noise- just browsing blogs it giving it a workout lol.

    Excited for the next 2 recipes! Especially that brussel sprout salad!

    Have a lovely week πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Gabby! What are you favorite indian dishes? I also love Chana Masala (chickpea curry) and Aloo Gobi (cauliflower and potatoes)!
      I know what you mean about the hot computer, not to mention that darned spinning color wheel that overloaded Macs get, I waited a while and it is so awesome…have a fantastic week yourself my friend! πŸ™‚

  17. i love your blog! i’ve nominated you for the illuminating blogger award for illuminating, informative blog content. (i’m passing on the love!) you can check out the details on their site:

    hope you had a glorious weekend! xxo

  18. Hmm these stuffs look delicious! Love Indian and Eastern food in general so deff. going to try this.

  19. Another fabulous post as usual, Shira! Beautiful pictures, too. My husband lived in Nepal for a while, so we eat a lot of Dahl and curries, etc, but for some reason I’ve been a little too intimidated to make one from scratch! But this looks so approachable and just lovely. Thanks again! I’m just so happy to have found your blog. πŸ™‚

    • Awesome Becca – I am so happy we found each other too! This recipe (along with the next two I will post) are totally accessible and not at all complicated, I always say if I can do it anyone can! Your husband is lucky – I have always wanted to visit Nepal, it’s definitely on the list πŸ™‚ Happy you like the photos too, and I appreciate your kind words always! πŸ™‚ Have a great day! xox!

  20. I love Indian food. Your paneer with tomato and cream has just the right look: creamy, pale red, spicy. I have never made paneer don’t usually order it. I own the Ajanta cookbook from the wonderful restaurant in Berkeley: two of my favorites are a tomato-based curry made with fresh black-eyed peas and a chicken biryani, which is easy to do at home. But when I go out for Indian food I eat lamb, fish, or prawns.

    • Thanks Sharyn! The challenge is always in trying to get these things to have a semblance of authenticity, so that means a lot to me, really! That black-eyed pea curry sound intriguing – I do love any curry with a tomato base, yum! πŸ™‚

  21. I love paneer–and this looks like a perfect way to eat it! Thanks for the greeat idea!

  22. love the quotes mixed in with the recipes

  23. I love anything Indian!!! A trip to Vancouver without going to Vij’s or Rangoli is not a trip to Vancouver πŸ™‚
    This recipe looks so amazing – I will try it!!
    Thank you!!

  24. Love Indian food and this combo was one of my faves pre-vegan days. Great thing about Indian food is it’s so adaptable to plant-based eating! The color is gorgeous, Shira!

    • I couldn’t agree more Annie, it is so yummy and versatile – easily made dairy free and purely vegetarian for very little effort and still with huge taste! Thank you my friend! πŸ™‚ xo!

  25. Sara

    I love your photos! (and of course the dish looks very yummy!)

  26. Yum, this looks delicious!

  27. YUM!!! have always been too intimidated to make Indian food. but, now i have no reason not to give it a shot!!! πŸ˜›

  28. I love this! Paneer is one of my favorite cheeses lately and this sounds amazing. Reminiscent of tikka masala. I’ll have to try it!

    • Tikka Masala – yes! That is actually my ‘cheat sauce’ if I am ever in a pinch – there is a great brand from the UK that we get here now. I try to limit the use though as it is full of additives and bottled calories, but we love that spice mixture so much! Thank you! πŸ™‚

  29. Pingback: Cooking paneer | Shareimage

  30. Live Your Beliefs and You Can Turn the World Around – Thoreau. Genius quote Shira! Your creation looks divine – I am a fan of Indian food πŸ™‚ Pretty post especially the spice photos!

    • So true Marina! Happy you like it too! πŸ™‚ Nothing beats Indian when you’ve got the craving, right?! We get it from time to time for sure!

  31. This looks beautiful, wow, — dishes like curry are so hard to photograph. We love Indian food too! I mostly cook from Julie Sahni’s cookbooks. Her recipes are pretty naughty too, but I’ve been able to lighten some of them up with yogurt. As for the paneer, I use Ricki Carroll’s recipe from Home Cheese Making (There are lots of versions of it on the Internet.) It was a lot easier than I expected. It’s a cold and rainy day in Chicago–your curry might just be the perfect mood lifter–Thanks Shira!

    • Thanks Bob! They are rather a challenge to take a good photo of aren’t they?! πŸ™‚ I’ll be posting the rest of the meal in the next post too in case you waited a day or so! I have made paneer and found it was not as good as the store bought but perhaps I need to try a different recipe, thanks for the reco on Julie’s books! Hope you find a way to boost the mood – we are stuck in an ugly weather pattern this week too. Hence all this comfort food! xo!

  32. Beautiful pics Shira! I love Indian food, especially since there are so many veg and vegan options. I’m still a little nervous about maiking it at home…but eventaully I’ll do it! My first dish will probably be Chana Masala all-time fave Indian dish.

    • Thanks very much! I love Chana Masala too…it is incredible! Today’s post has a few easy things you could pair with any curry – for when you do decide to give it a go! Thanks again! πŸ™‚

  33. Oh girl, you are speaking my food language. I think I am the missing link in your family–this is one my all-time favorite foods!!! May I come over next time and dine with you all?

  34. It’s so funny that we both made a version of Malai Kofta, as so many of my friends who eat at Indian restaurants often have just never heard of the dish! Great minds… I love how you just used paneer in the curry; I got lazy and used store-bought falafels, which don’t taste that much like the cheese dumplings I got at the Indian restaurant, but were a dumpling of sort, at least. I just couldn’t be bothered with the fuss of making the cheese dumplings myself – but using cubes of paneer is a genius substitution!

    • I thought your falafel balls were genius Anna – considering the cheese balls are such a similar texture😜I bet we could try each others and compare notes – they’d both be yummy! Love Indian and loved your post today!

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