If you are looking for a meatless yet protein-rich dinner idea, then you are at the right page! This easy-to-make paneer tikka is perfect for your healthy & nutritious dinner which tastes delicious too!
After a long absence due to medical emergencies in family, I am back with yet another healthy recipe which is packed with protein and incredible deliciousness! And that is homemade smoky paneer tikka!
Paneer tikka is a flagship recipe of Indian cuisine and I am sure anyone fond of spicy food must have tried this at least once! You haven’t? Then you are missing out on a lot!
What is paneer tikka
If you haven’t had a chance to devour the good old paneer tikka yet, then first let me decode it for you. Don’t get intimidated assuming it must be something very tricky to make; trust me it is not!
Paneer, which is called cottage cheese in English, is one of the primary ingredients of vegetarian Indian cuisine and there are uncountable dishes made out of this one main component.
You will find many paneer recipes in my blog and today I am adding one more! Paneer tikka is smoky grilled cubes of paneer which have been marinated in a spicy yogurt mixture for few hours.
To add merry to the musical, the paneer cubes are threaded into skewers along with crunchy veggies alternatively to give that ultimate pleasure to your taste buds. The skewers with paneer and veggies are then grilled on hot tawa for that tempting smoky and charred flavor.
Ingredients for paneer tikka
Any typical tikka requires similar ingredients for marinating the primary ingredient which can be any meat or veggies or as in our case paneer i.e. cottage cheese.
Paneer/Cottage cheese: Paneer or cottage cheese is the hard cheese which does not melt upon heating. It is the most popular and most loved protein in Indian vegetarian cuisine. You can easily get a block of panner from any supermarket or local store anywhere in India or in the Indian section if you are abroad.
Veggies: To add a good balance of protein and fiber, paneer tikkas are threaded in the skewers with chunky vegetables like onions and capsicum/bell peppers or you can use anything of your choice. The veggies are also marinated in the same tikka mixture and they char beautifully while cooking which add a mind-blowing crunch to soft paneer cubes.
Hung curd/Greek Yogurt: The base of the tikka marinate is hung curd which is the thick, sticky and creamy curd sans any water. The stickiness helps to bind the marinade and adhere to the paneer cubes. You may substitute it with Greek yogurt but I will still recommend using hung curd which is very easy to make and I have explained the steps below.
Aromatics: The typical Indian aromatics used in Indian cooking have a major role to play in making delicious paneer tikka or any tikka for that matter. These aromatics are nothing but ginger and garlic. You will need generous amount of ginger and garlic paste to take your paneer tikka from just good to absolutely awesome!
Spices: Now let us talk about the spices which make paneer tikka so tempting. You won’t need any special tikka masala for this. All you need is the regular Indian spice powders which are turmeric, cumin, coriander and chilli powder; plus garam masala. That’s the killer combination of powdered spices which lend amazing flavors to our paneer tikkas.
Seasoning: Salt and pepper is of course the mandatory ingredients but if you sprinkle a little amount of freshly crushed black pepper on the hot paneer tikkas just before serving, it will taste fantastic!
Oil: Mustard oil is best suited for paneer tikka but if it is too pungent for you, you can substitute it with any flavorless oil like canola to sunflower.
How to make delicious paneer tikka at home
Making paneer tikka at home is really easy which is why I keep it as one of my dinner options every week. Let’s break down the process of making paneer tikka at home step by step.
Step 1: Making hung curd: Transfer the regular curd, about 400 grams, into a medium size muslin cloth or cheesecloth. Tie up the 4 corners and squeeze out as much water as possible from the curd. Then hang the tied ball of yogurt over your kitchen sink to let all the water drip off for at least 4 hours. You can make a large batch of hung curd at the start of the week like I do and use it throughout the week for not only tikkas but also salad and sandwiches.
If you are having hard time finding a good cheesecloth or muslin in India, you can try the one I got from Amazon. It is very good and totally anti-fungal even after many use.
Step 2: Cut the block of paneer into chunks about 1.5 inch cubes. Don’t cut the paneer too small as it may break while you try to thread them in skewers.
Step 3: Cut the veggies into chunks, about the same size of paneer cubes. Separate the onion petals. Wash the veggies and drain out all excess water as much as possible.
Step 4: Making the tikka marinade: Add hung curd to a large bowl (big enough to hold all paneer cubes and veggies). Now add all powders spices, aromatics, seasoning and oil. Using wire whisk, give a good mix ensuring all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed with the hung curd without any lumps.
Step 5: Add the paneer cubes and veggies to the tikka marinade. Using a spatula stir the ingredients with a very light hand so that paneer does not break but each cube gets coated with the yogurt mixture. Cover the bowl and let the items marinade for at least an hour.
Step 6: Soak few bamboo skewers in water while your paneer is marinating. After about an hour, start threading the panner and veggies into the skewers by alternately arranging paneer, onion petal and capsicum.
Step 7: Heat a grill pan (preferably cast iron grill pan or tawa) until smoky. Brush some oil on the grill grate using a tissue or basting brush.
Step 8: Place the paneer tikka skewers carefully on the hot grill pan. Do not overcrowd the pan and do in batched if needed.
Step 9: Let the paneer tikka grill without any disruption for 5 minutes on medium-low heat. After 5 minutes, flip each skewer over and let the other side cook until charred. You will have to cook all the 4 sides by flipping after every two minutes.
Step 10: And your paneer tikka is done! Transfer the tikkas on a serving platter, sprinkle some chat masala and freshly crushed black pepper and serve with green mint chutney!
- Paneer – 300 gms
- Capsicum/bell pepper – 1, medium
- Onion – 1, medium
- Hung curd / Greek Yogurt – 1 cup
- Mustard oil – 2 tsp
- Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
- Kashmiri chilli powder – ½ tsp
- Coriander powder – ½ tsp
- Cumin powder – ½ tsp
- Regular chili powder (optional) – ¼ tsp
- Garam masala – ¼ tsp
- Ginger paste – 1 tsp
- Garlic paste – 1 tsp
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Cut the paneer block into 1-inch cubes. Wash and cut capsicum and onion into large chunks, about 1-inch. Separate the onion petals and keep everything aside.
- Now make the tikka marinade. Take a large bowl which can hold all the marinating ingredients along with all the vegetables and paneer. Add all the ingredients listed under tikka marinade to the bowl.
- Now using a fork or wire whisk give them a good mix so that all powdered spices and aromatics are evenly mixed with yogurt. Take some time to thoroughly mix these ingredients at this step.
- Once your marinade is ready, drop the veggies first to the bowl and mix using a spatula so that each peace is coated with the yogurt mixture.
- Next add the paneer cubes and again mix with the spatula using very light hand so that the paneer cubes do not break.
- Your paneer and veggies must be evenly coated on all sides with the marinade. Set it aside for at least 30 minutes or overnight for best result.
- While the paneer is marinating, soak few bamboo skewers in water.
- When you are ready to cook, thread the paneer, capsicum and onion alternatively into the skewer.
- I prefer to cook my paneer tikka on a cast iron tawa or a grill pan with just light brush of oil. You can either do the same or broil/grill in oven at 180 C for 15 minutes.
- Heat your pan or tawa until smoking hot. Brush mustard oil all over.
- Now carefully place the paneer threaded skewers on the tawa one by one. Let them cook on medium flame without any disturbance for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, flip each skewer over and let the other side cook until charred. You will have to cook all the 4 sides by flipping after every two minutes.
- Once all sides are evenly browned, your paneer tikkas are done! Transfer the tikkas on a serving platter, sprinkle some chat masala and freshly crushed black pepper and serve with green mint chutney! Enjoy!