Paneer tikka is made from paneer cubes marinated in Indian spices and yogurt, grilled on the stove-top or baked in the oven. Make this delicious restaurant-style Indian appetizer in the comforts of your home!
If you’re dining at an Indian restaurant and you’re stumped looking at the choices in the menu, you simply can’t go wrong with a paneer tikka. During my childhood years, paneer tikka would be part of our meal by default, whenever we ate out at a North Indian restaurant – which was quite often.
Traditionally, paneer tikka is made with chunks of marinated paneer and vegetables, which are skewered and baked in a ‘tandoor’ (clay oven), giving it a lovely char and a smoky flavour.
Paneer tikka can just as easily be made at home. If you have access to an Indian store, all you need is a store-bought block of paneer, assorted bell peppers and red onions, yogurt and chickpea flour (gram flour or ‘besan’) and some staple Indian spices for the marinade.
Paneer tikka can be made either in the oven or on the stove top. I use my stovetop grill pan, as I have a thing for those lovely char marks that result from using a grill pan.
Essential Indian Spices needed to make paneer tikka at home:
The piquant, mildly tangy and spicy flavours that are characteristic of paneer tikka are easy to replicate at home if you have some basic Indian spices and seasonings. These spices are commonly used in most Indian recipes, you’d love having them handy!
Chaat masala: A little sprinkling of chaat masala on your meal will make your taste buds do a happy jig! Chaat masala is characteristically tangy, and is made with rock salt, carom seeds, dry mango powder, among other seasonings. I love adding chaat masala to just about anything from fruit salads to potato patties (aloo tikkis).
Turmeric powder: Organic turmeric has been riding on a wave of popularity in recent years. Not only is it a staple in an Indian pantry, it is also known for its many healing properties.
Kashmiri Red Chili Powder: Another pantry staple along with turmeric powder, Kashmiri red chili powder is perfect for adding that characteristic red colour to dishes, without adding too much heat.
Garam Masala: The king of all seasonings, garam masala cannot be left out of an Indian pantry. This is my go-to recipe if you would like to make it at home. To make a small batch of garam masala, heat the following spices on a pan on the stovetop: 3 teaspoons fennel seeds, 5-6 cardamoms, 6-7 cloves, a 2-inch piece cinnamon, 2-3 pieces of mace. Once the spices are heated and begin releasing their aroma, grind them in a high-power blender, or coffee grinder. Store the ground spice mix in an air-tight jar and use as needed.
Here’s how I make paneer tikka at home on the grill pan:
Cut up the paneer into cubes, and the bell peppers and red onion into similar-sized pieces.
Before you start with the marinade, prepare the hung yogurt. For this, you need to transfer the yogurt to a muslin or cheese cloth and hang it to drain off the whey. Optionally, you can substitute hung yogurt for Greek yogurt in a pinch.
Prepare the marinade by whisking together the hung curd or Greek yogurt with turmeric, Kashmiri red chili powder, chaat masala, salt, garam masala, ginger and garlic paste, cumin powder, vegetable oil and gram flour. The marinade will have the consistency of a thin paste.
Toss up the paneer and chopped veggies with the marinade – I like to do this by adding everything to a zip-lock bag and tossing the bag (gently!) so that the marinade coats the paneer and veggies evenly.
Let the marinade sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour, for the flavours to really catch on well.
And now the messy, but fun bit – skewer the paneer cubes onto wooden or metal skewers. Alternate the paneer cubes with the veggies.
For cooking the paneer tikka on the stovetop, brush a little oil onto a grill pan (or a non-stick frying pan) and grill the skewers on the pan for around 5 minutes per side.
What goes best with paneer tikka?
Paneer tikka is the perfect party appetizer. It tastes delicious on its own, but can also be served with mint-coriander chutney or tamarind chutney or with a simple salad on the side. You can make your own chutneys at home with a few simple ingredients:
Mint-coriander chutney: To make a simple green chutney, blend together 1 cup of chopped coriander leaves, 1 cup fresh mint, 1 green chili, ½ an inch of ginger, 2 garlic cloves and the juice of ½ a lime. Season with salt and chaat masala.
Tamarind Chutney: Although store-bought tamarind chutney is a good option for a dip, you can make your own at home, and it goes without saying that nothing compares to homemade! To make a sweet and sour tamarind chutney dip at home, roast a teaspoon cumin seeds on a hot pan until fragrant. Grind the roasted cumin in a spice grinder or coffee grinder. To a saucepan, add 2-3 tablespoons of tamarind paste, 1 cup water, freshly ground roasted cumin powder, ½ teaspoon red chili powder, ½ teaspoon dry ginger powder and salt to season. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring gently. Let the chutney cool before serving.
If you liked this recipe, you might like these easy appetizer recipes:
Easy Paneer Tikka – Indian Party Appetizer
- Pan for grilling
- 12 ounces paneer (or 350 grams paneer), cut into cubes
- 2 red onions peeled and cut into roughly square-shaped pieces
- 2 bell peppers deseeded and cut into even-sized cubes
- For the marinade:
- 1/3 cup hung yogurt or Greek yogurt
- Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
- Turmeric Powder
- Garam Masala
- Dried Mango Powder also known as Amchur
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste can be substituted with finely-minced ginger and garlic
- 1.5 teaspoons chaat masala
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1.5 tablespoons gram flour chickpea flour or ‘besan’
- 1 teaspoon oil for the marinade
- Extra oil to brush on the grill pan
- Cut up the paneer into cubes, and the bell peppers and red onion into uniform-sized pieces.
- Before you start with the marinade, prepare the hung yogurt. To make hung curd, transfer the yogurt to a muslin or cheese cloth. Tie up the corners of the cloth and let the whey drain for at least 20 minutes (Greek yogurt can be substituted for hung curd).
- Prepare the marinade by whisking together the hung curd or Greek yogurt with turmeric, Kashmiri red chili powder, chaat masala, salt, garam masala, ginger and garlic paste, cumin powder, oil and gram flour. The marinade will have the consistency of a thin paste.
- Toss up the paneer and chopped veggies with the marinade. The easiest way to do this is to transfer all the ingredients, including the marinade to a zip-lock bag and toss the bag gently so that the marinade coats the paneer and veggies evenly.
- Let the marinade sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour, for the flavours to really catch on well.
- Brush a grill pan (or any large non-stick pawith some oil until hot.
- Skewer the paneer cubes onto wooden or metal skewers. Alternate the paneer cubes with the veggies.
- Grill the skewers on the pan for around 5 minutes per side. Brush on more oil if needed.
- Once done, sprinkle a little chaat masala to finish. Serve hot, with a side of chutney, salad or just as is.
- Try to cut the paneer, peppers and onions into cubes of roughly the same size, so that they cook evenly.
- Hung curd can be substituted for Greek yogurt in a pinch.