Paneer Bhuna Masala Recipe

Paneer Bhuna Masala

Paneer Bhuna Masala

Paneer Bhuna Masala is a popular Asian recipe of paneer in a delicious onion-based gravy. It is most popular cooking technique from the Bengal region of Northeast India and western Bangladesh and widely gained its well-deserved status at the Indian restaurants’ world over. 

The word ‘Bhuna’ originates from Urdu word for ‘fried’ and refers to the cooking process rather than the type of dish. It means fried in oil/ghee at a high temperature until the spices form a paste. This process helps to bring out the flavours in the dish. In this particular recipe, onions are fried at high temperature until they caramelise and brown. The onions almost become a mushy paste which is what forms the base of the thick gravy.

My husband loves Chicken Bhuna and being a vegetarian whenever I cook chicken bhuna for him, I prepare Paneer Bhuna for myself. Although, Paneer Bhuna sounds a bit complicated, it is an extremely easy recipe to prepare at home and doesn’t have as many different spices as some of the other Indian recipes. If you love recreating Indian takeaway recipes, then this one is definitely for you. All this recipe asks for is ‘patience’ and ‘time’ to make the base of the gravy and you would have prepared a better Paneer Bhuna than your local takeaway/restaurant.

Other paneer recipes you might like are Paneer Lababdar, Paneer Hara Pyaaz, Indo- Chinese Chilli Paneer, Paneer Makhani, Thai Pandan Leaf Paneer and Paneer Tikka to name a few.


200 gm diced paneer
3 teaspoons oil/ghee
8-10 black pepper corns
2-3 green cardamom
1-2 bayleaf
1 inch cinnamon stick
2-3 cloves
1 small piece of mace
1-2 dried red chillies
4-5 finely chopped onions
1 finely chopped tomato
2-3 slit green chillies
1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
2-3 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons Kashmiri Red chilli powder
2-3 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon kasuri methi
2-3 teaspoons finely chopped coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala



Heat oil in a pan and add the black pepper corns, cardamom, bayleaf, cinnamon, cloves, mace and red chillies. Let them infuse the oil for 1 minute and then add the onions.

Cook the onions on medium to high heat for 15-20 minutes or until they are softened and browned. It is important to keep stirring or else onion will stick to the pan.


Once the onions have softened and browned, add the tomatoes, green chillies, ginger garlic paste, salt, turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and kasuri methi. Cook on low heat for 3-4 minutes or until the tomatoes have softened. (If the gravy is too dry add a tablespoon of water, just so the spices blend into the onions and don’t burn).


Once al the spices have cooked, add the plain yogurt, paneer and coriander and mix. Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes on medium heat, stirring every 2-3 minutes or until the paneer has softened.  If the gravy is too dry, you can add a tablespoon of water.

Sprinkle the garam masala and serve hot with Jeera Rice, Naan or Lachha Paratha.

Tips & Variations

  1. Paneer Bhuna is a semi dry gravy hence we do not add a lot of water in gravy. I would recommend only adding water towards the later stages if you feel the gravy is too dry.
  2. If you are not a huge fan of using whole spices in food, then you can dry roast them in a pan and grind them to a powder before adding to the onions.
  3. DO NOT rush the cooking process of the onions! That’s where the flavours will come from. It might seem like you are cooking the onions forever but wait till they almost become like ‘marmalade’.
  4. I like to add one 1 tomato as it adds slightly acidity to the gravy. If you want, you can skip it.
  5. I have used Kashmiri Red chilli powder, as it gives a lovely colour to the dish and is not very spicy. If you are using normal chilli powder, then I would add half the quantity. Saying that, adjust the spices according to your taste.
  6. I do not like to add any food colour in my food hence the colour of the paneer bhuna is dependent on the spices.
  7. I have added diced raw paneer, if you wish you can lightly sauté them in oil before adding to the gravy.
  8. Use the best ripe tomato for this recipe. I prefer to use fresh tomatoes as they are sweeter compared to the canned tomatoes.