Paneer lababdar is a rich and authentic Punjabi curry that can be found on many North Indian restaurant menu. Soft and succulent paneer dunked in this creamy tomato and cashew based gravy makes this paneer curry worth indulging in. If you love Indian Vegetarian Food Recipes then do try this one as well!
Paneer is the Indian cottage cheese and Lababdar means to want something strongly and totally give in. No wonder this curry is finger licking good. Once you taste this paneer recipe you will come for seconds. What makes this paneer in creamy gravy exotic is generous use of cashews and heavy cream. I think it has more of a Mughlai flare to it.
Paneer Lababdar makes a great choice for special occasion and fits in the menu so well. I have noticed that whenever it’s subzi roti on the menu , paneer is the most preferred and crowd friendly dish. You can make this paneer gravy for a potluck, party or to entertain your guests for any celebration. I love hosting get together at home rather than dining at a restaurant. The kids have more room to play and we are more comfortable chatting with our friends at home. If I am thinking to make North Indian food then Paneer Lababdar tops my list every time.
Ingredients to make Paneer Lababdar?
Like most North Indian curries it has onion, tomatoes, ginger and garlic. But the usage of onion is very less as compared to Paneer butter masala or Paneer Makhani. Rather than oil , ghee is used to fry the lababdar masala.It additionally uses melon seeds and loads of cashews. To make the paneer gravy rich this recipe uses heavy cream too.
Instead of a readymade masala like kitchen king or garam masala I have used whole spice. I promise you that it takes only 1 minute extra of your time to gather and roast these spices. Using whole spices like cardamom i.e elaichi, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorn , bay leaf, mace and coriander seeds just amplifies the flavor of the gravy. I have even used dried red chilies for the spice and beautiful color of this gravy.
If you do not have whole spices or dried chilies go ahead and use the ready made masala and red chili powder.
The best part of making this easy paneer recipe at home is that you can totally customize it to your taste by changing the proportions of ingredients in a smart way without affecting the taste. You may reduce the cashews or skip the heavy cream too. If you do not have melon seeds you can replace it with more cashews.
This Indian curry is quiet close to Paneer Makhani but not the same. The main difference between paneer lababdar and paneer makhani is that the latter uses butter. Paneer lababdar has a combination of grated paneer and cubed ones giving you an unforgettable paneer experience. Paneer lababdar is mildly sweet and spicy at the same time. Whereas paneer makhani is gentle on spices and more on sweeter side. ( Perfect for kids)
How to serve Paneer Lababdar?
Paneer Lababdar is a low carb curry so you can pair it with low carb tortillas or eat on it’s own on a low carb diet. I ate it this way during my pregnancy when I had Gestational Diabetes in my last trimester.
Or you can serve it with Parathas, naan, tandoori rotis , plain basmati rice, jeera rice or peas carrot pulao goes well with paneer gravy dishes. And a side of raita or a salad really completes the meal.
Step by Step of making this authentic North Indian paneer gravy
Making this gravy starts with lightly roasting the whole spices. Instead of frying the onions until brown and then further cooking the tomatoes until softened , this curry is made by boiling everything including cashews and melon seeds. Next step is processing in the blender to form a smooth paste and then frying the paste with spices. Adding grated paneer along with cubed ones and finishing off with heavy cream.
I used to do the boiling process in a pressure cooker for hands off cooking. Now that I have an Instant Pot I just cook the ingredients in it. You may choose to boil everything in a pot on stovetop keeping it covered. Stirring 2-3 times in between until everything is softened.
Let’s make Paneer Lababdar recipe-
I made this curry in my 6 Qt Instant Pot duo . Stovetop instructions are mentioned too.
Paneer Lababdar (Make restaurant style simple paneer recipe at home)
- 1.5 tablespoon Ghee divided ou may use cooking oil too.
For making the gravy paste -
- ¼ cup chopped onions
- 1 green chili chopped optional or deseed to reduce heat
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 4 ripe Roma tomatoes roughly chopped use medium size tomatoes
- ½ cup water to cook the mixture
- ½ cup chilled water additionally for grinding the paste
- Salt to taste
Whole Spice used-
- 2 dried red chilies bydagi or kashmiri for less heat.
- 2 peppercorns
- 2 cloves
- 2 green cardamom
- 2 black cardamom Badi elaichi
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon melon seeds
- 14 raw whole cashews
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1 mace flower
- ½ “ cinnamon stick
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds jeera
To add later
- 1 cup water
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon kasoori methi crushed with fingers
- 1 teaspoon sugar or honey
- 1/3 rd cup grated paneer
- 250 grams paneer cubes approx. 1.5 cups
- 3 tablespoon Fresh cream heavy cream
- Handful of Chopped Cilantro
For Instant Pot
- Gather all the ingredients for making the gravy.
- Heat ½ tablespoon ghee in the IP.
- After 10 seconds start roasting all whole spices for 20 seconds.
- Add in onions and roast for half a minute.
- Press cancel. This is to avoid burning of whole spices. Add in the ginger garlic paste.
- The heat after pressing CANCEL is enough to cook the paste for 20 seconds.
- Add in tomatoes, green chili and ½ cup water.
- Add in salt to taste .
- Close the IP with its lid, the black knob being on SEALING position.
- Press MANUAL 3 minutes HIGH PRESSURE.
- Meanwhile grate and chop the paneer.
- Once the IP beeps place a dish cloth over the black knob and carefully perform QUICK RELEASE with back of a spoon.
- Once the silver pin drops down open the IP.
- With help of IP mitts or dish cloth take out the inner bowl from the Instant Pot and let it rest to cool down on a pot holder.
- Pour in ½ cup chilled water to quicken the process.
- It should take around 10 minutes to cool down.
- Now grind the mixture in a blender to form a smooth paste. ( After it’s completely cooled down.)
- Wash the Inner pot of the IP and pat it dry.
- Place it back in the Instant Pot.
- Keep 1 cup of water by your side which we will use while cooking the paste .
- Press Sautee mode.
- Add in 1 tablespoon of ghee.
- After 10 seconds add in chili powder, turmeric , the prepared mixture and stir continuously for 30 seconds as the mixture is going to splatter .
- Pour in 1 cup water. And give it a good stir.
- Cover the pot with any other lid as we are going to cook the gravy on Saute mode so it won’t be under pressure.
- Cook it for a minute.
- The gravy splatters quiet a bit so feel free to press cancel button at anytime.
- Now add in heavy cream, grated paneer, paneer cubes, Kasoori methi and give it a quick stir .
- And Press Sautee again when you are all set.
- Cook for a minute and press Cancel.
- The residual heat is enough to cook the Paneer and make it soft.
- After a minute open the lid and add in chopped cilantro and sugar.
- Give it a quick stir.
- Taste test and adjust seasoning if needed.
For Stove top
- For gravy part , boil the ingredients in the pan loosely covered for 10-15 minutes until soft. Or you may use stovetop pressure cooker and cook the gravy ingredients for 2 whistles and let the pressure come down naturally.
- Stir occasionally so that the water doesn’t overflow.
- Rest follow as per Instant Pot method. Instead of Instant Pot use a wide pan or kadai.
Pin this recipe for later reference-
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