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February 29, 2020
Restaurant-Style Paneer Tikka
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 gas 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.
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.
Ensure the wire rack you use on top of the cooker is sturdy and can handle the heat.
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!
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 until charred. Make sure it’s pre-heated to the highest temperature possible. 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.
I used flat metal skewers (be careful when turning as the handles can get really hot) but you can also use wooden skewers. Be sure to soak them in cold water for an hour before you need to use them. This will stop them burning during the cooking process.
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 of smoked paprika and regular chilli powder in its place. I often use tomato paste for colour and tang which isn’t authentic 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
Juicy chunks of Indian cottage cheese marinated in homemade tandoori paste and grilled until charred. Perfect with naan, roti or paratha.
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Keyword: cheese, kebab, north indian, paneer, skewer, tandoori, vegetarian
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:
400gpaneercut into large cubes (soak in hot water for 5 minutes and drain)
2bell pepperscut into large squares
2red onionsquartered and separated into petals
1/2tspground black pepper
1tspground cumin seeds
1tspground coriander seeds
2cardamom pods(seeds ground)
1/2tspkasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
1tspKashmiri red chilli powder
2tbspsunflower, vegetable, mustard or rapeseed oil
1tbspmelted gheefor brushing on the cooked tikka
Sliced onions and tomatoes
Fresh coriander leaveschopped
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.
This paneer tikka is excellent with naan, roti or a simple salad.
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If you like this, you’ll love my recipe for Shahi Paneer
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