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.
Watch a full step-by-step video for this Paneer Tikka recipe
- 6 large metal kebab skewers (if using wooden skewers, soak in cold water for 1 hour prior to skewering the paneer)
For the paneer & marinade:
- 400 g paneer cut into large cubes (soak in hot water for 5 minutes and drain)
- 2 bell peppers cut into large squares
- 2 red onions quartered and separated into petals
- 75 g plain yoghurt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp ground cumin seeds
- 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
- 2 cardamom pods (seeds ground)
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/4 tsp black salt
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 tsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
- 1 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
- 2 tbsp chickpea flour
- 2 large cloves garlic crushed
- 2 cm piece ginger grated
- 2 tbsp sunflower, vegetable, mustard or rapeseed oil
- 1 tbsp melted ghee for brushing on the cooked tikka
- Sliced onions and tomatoes
- Fresh coriander leaves chopped
- Roast the chickpea flour in a dry pan until lightly toasted. Set aside.
- Whisk together all the ingredients for the marinade, including the roasted chickpea flour and except the oil.
- Heat the oil over a high heat until smoking hot. Carefully whisk this into the marinade.
Add the paneer, peppers and onions. Mix well to coat and set aside for 30 mins (or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days).
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
- Skewer the paneer, onions and peppers on the skewers, alternating in each ingredient.
- Set a metal wire rack on top of a baking tray and arrange the skewers on top. Bake for 10 minutes if proceeding to the next step, or 15 minutes if skipping the next step.
- Optional: Once out of the oven, hold each skewer over a direct flame on your hob burner roll char the outside. Be careful not to burn yourself and open a window before you start.
- Brush the paneer tikka pieces with melted ghee and serve immediately with all the accompaniments.
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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