One of my most favourite meals in the world is the iconic North Indian dish, Restaurant-Style Paneer Tikka.
When this street food gem is served alongside lemon wedges, salad and mint and coriander chutney, nothing else comes close.
The beauty of simple ingredients, very few spices and fiery cooking method ensures this dish is world famous for its leopard-spotted char and smoky flavours.
How to make amazing paneer tikka at home
I’ve been working on this recipe for the ultimate Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka made without a tandoor or barbecue for SO long.
You’ll notice my dreams of installing a big, badass tandoor in my garden still haven’t come to fruition.
Don’t worry though, I’ve found a great workaround.
It’s a recipe that gives you restaurant or street-style flavours at home with minimal effort.
Spoiler: there’s no grill or oven involved either.
What is paneer tikka?
Juicy chunks of paneer marinated in a punchy hot and sour tandoori masala are skewered up with onion petals and pieces of pepper.
The loaded skewers are then grilled on a wire rack directly over the cooker to infuse deep, smoky flavours into the paneer and veg.
The ghee and oil combo in the marinade ensures the outside becomes freckled with the familiar scorch marks you’d expect from a restaurant or street-style tandoori dish.
How to serve Restaurant-Style Paneer Tikka
Serve it up with a pool of coriander and mint chutney, fresh salad leaves and lemon wedges. You can also toss in raw red onion slices and serve with butter naan or garlic naan for a true Punjabi-style feast.
A few tips before you make Restaurant-Style Paneer Tikka
Marinate the paneer, peppers and onions for a minimum of 30 minutes to give the ingredients time to get acquainted.
If you have time, you can pop the paneer and veg in the tandoori marinade the night before. Be sure to keep it covered in the fridge.
2. Soak the paneer
Being your resident paneer fangirl, you’ll know I’m always going on about soaking shop-bought paneer for a fresh, homemade texture and taste.
You can find out how I do this in the recipe below.
The basic idea is to rehydrate the paneer in boiling water to soften it up and give a brilliant-white colour that’s just like homemade.
If you want to make your own paneer at home, you can find my recipe here: Homemade Paneer.
3. Crack a window open
Open all the windows in your house for good ventilation. The cooking process will create smoke which will need to escape.
If you have an extractor fan, switch it on. It will make your house smell like a restaurant kitchen. Glorious!
4. Consider these alternative cooking options
If you don’t fancy cooking this over a flame, you can also place the skewers on a wire rack and cook them in an oven.
Make sure it’s very hot.
Traditional tandoors average 400°C heat so it needs to be hot! You can also place these on a griddle pan or on the barbecue.
5. Choose the right kind of skewers
I used flat metal skewers (be careful when turning as the handles can get really hot) but you can also use bamboo skewers.
Be sure to soak them in cold water for an hour before you use them.
This will stop them burning during the cooking process.
6. Kashmiri chilli powder is your friend
Most restaurants and street vendors add red food colour to their marinade for the iconic and eye-popping crimson colour.
I’m no food snob and am not opposed to food colours in cooking but I just don’t find it necessary in this dish.
Kashmiri chilli powder will give you a gorgeous natural red colour with very little heat.
If you can’t get hold of it, use equal parts smoky paprika and regular chilli powder in its place.
I often use tomato paste for colour and tang which isn’t traditional but works a treat.
Can I veganise this Restaurant-Style Paneer Tikka?
If you’re looking for a vegan tandoori option, check out my Tandoori Tofu Tikka recipe.
The marinade for that recipe packs a huge punch to really infuse the tofu with plenty of flavour.
If you prefer a milder tikka, you can easily veganize this recipe.
Switch the paneer for tofu, tempeh or seitan, use all oil instead of ghee and sub in coconut yoghurt in both the tikka marinade and chutney recipes.
For the paneer tikka
- 500g paneer
- 2 large red onions
- 2 peppers (bell pepper/capsicum)
- 150g thick plain yoghurt
- 2 tbsp roasted gram flour
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp minced ginger
- 2 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground fennel seeds
- 2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 6 green cardamom pods, seeds finely ground
- 2 tsp kasoori methi, ground or rubbed between your palms
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 100ml edible mustard oil (or any vegetable oil of your choice - do not use olive oil)
- Cut the paneer into cubes, about 1.5 cm x 1.5 cm. Soak the cubes in a bowl of boiling hot water (skip this step if using homemade paneer) whilst you make prepare the rest of the vegetables for the tikka and make the marinade.
- Core and de-seed the peppers and cut them into pieces, about the same size as the paneer.
- Peel the onions and slice them into quarters, or roughly the same size as the peppers and paneer. Peel the layers of the onions apart to separate into 'petals'.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the yoghurt, roasted gram flour, Kashmiri chilli powder, cumin, coriander, fennel, black pepper, smoked paprika, cardamom, turmeric, kasoori methi, salt, lemon juice, garlic and ginger. Whisk well. Heat the mustard oil in a small saucepan until smoking hot. Carefully pour the hot oil over the yoghurt mixture. Whisk again until smooth.
- Add the paneer, peppers and onions to the prepared marinade and toss well to coat.
- Skewer the paneer and vegetables onto oven-safe kebab skewers (I use metal ones). Alternate the ingredients according to your preference.
- Set the skewers over an oven tray, resting the exposed bottom and top of the skewer on the lip of the tray so the ingredients are suspended and not touching the tray. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 220°C/425°F fan for 15-18 minutes. Keep an eye on them to ensure they do not burn.
- You can finish by scorching the kebabs over an open flame like I do (see video), or under the grill. This will give the tikka a restaurant-like flavour, as if they have been cooked in a tandoor (clay oven).
- Serve hot with naan and mint yoghurt or green coriander chutney.
- Paneer tikka without skewers or kebab sticks: If you don't have any skewers or kebab sticks, you can simply arrange the pieces of marinated paneer and vegetables on a greased roasting tray, taking care to leave some room around each piece. Roast the pieces as per the recipe, keeping an eye on them as they may brown faster this way. Do not finish them over an open flame if roasting individual pieces.
- If using wooden bamboo skewers, you'll need to soak them in cold water for three hours prior to using. This will keep them from burning.
- How to cook paneer tikka without an oven: Air fry, pan fry, grill or barbecue the kebabs. Be sure to brown all sides.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 527Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 89mgSodium: 2246mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 6gSugar: 11gProtein: 29g
Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.
Watch a full step-by-step video for this Paneer Tikka recipe
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If you like this, you’ll love my recipe for Shahi Paneer
More Chutney Recipes to pair with this Tandoori Paneer Tikka recipe