This Restaurant Style Creamy Paneer Lababdar is a luscious North Indian curry where paneer cubes and grated paneer are simmered in a rich onion-tomato-based gravy. Make this restaurant-style dish at home using my easy and simple recipe (vegetarian, gluten-free).
Here are some more paneer recipes that you must try – Paneer Tikka Masala, Punjabi Saag Paneer, Mughlai Paneer Korma, Paneer In White Gravy, Restaurant Style Palak Paneer, Paneer Masala, and Restaurant Style Kadhai Paneer.
About This Recipe
Paneer Lababdar is a North Indian restaurant-style creamy curry where grated paneer and paneer cubes are simmered in a rich and creamy gravy made using onions, tomatoes, and cashews. You will find it on the menu of most North Indian restaurants.
Lababdar means a strong desire for something and a complete surrender when you get it! And when we use it along with the word paneer, it simply means complete surrender of one’s tastebuds to this dish ‘Paneer Lababdar’.
This restaurant-style curry is easy to make at home and comes together in under 30 minutes using simple ingredients.
The texture of this delicious Paneer Lababdar Gravy is creamy and luscious and it tastes slightly sweet and spicy.
Although the ingredients to make it are similar to that of paneer butter masala, the two curries are very different from each other in taste and texture.
This paneer gravy is a perfect dish to make for festive meals, house parties, or other special occasions if Indian vegetarian food is your theme.
My recipe is easily scalable and freezes well, so you can make a big batch and freeze it for future use.
This paneer curry is vegetarian and gluten-free too.
Paneer – Paneer or Indian cottage cheese is easily available in the refrigerator section of Indian grocery stores or other specialty stores like whole food, Costco, etc.
You can also use fresh homemade paneer to make this dish.
Cashews give a creamy and rich texture to the curry. You can swap them with almonds or seeds like melon seeds, poppy seeds, etc.
Oil & Butter – I like to use a combination of oil and butter to make the curry. You can also use ghee in place of butter.
Whole Spices – Cumin seeds, cinnamon, and green cardamom are a few whole spices that enhance the flavor and aroma of this curry.
You can also add bay leaf for added flavor.
Spice Powders – Spice up the curry with basic spice powders such as coriander powder, turmeric powder, garam masala powder, red chili powder, and salt.
Milk adds to the creaminess and richness of the curry. Use whole milk for the best result.
Others – You will also need onions, garlic, fresh ginger, green chilies, tomatoes, honey, lime juice, heavy cream, and Kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves).
You can replace heavy cream with fresh cream (malai).
Some people use tomato puree in place of fresh tomatoes. You too can replace the fresh tomatoes with ½ cup of canned tomato puree.
To make this curry even more indulgent, give it a garlic tempering at the end. Chop a few garlic cloves and saute them in ghee along with 1-2 dry red chilies until nicely browned. Then pour the tempering over the ready curry.
How To Make Paneer Lababdar
Rinse the paneer slab with water and grate 100 g using the medium hole of a box grater. Cut 300 g into ½ inch cubes.
Soak the paneer cubes in hot water for 10 minutes.
Chop the onions (1 large), green chilies (1-2), and tomatoes (2 medium).
Soak 8-10 cashew nuts in water.
Gather the remaining ingredients.
Make Paneer Lababdar
Heat 2 tablespoon vegetable oil and 2 tablespoon butter (salted or unsalted) in a pan over medium-high heat.
Once the oil is hot, add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick, and 2 green cardamoms and let them crackle for 4-5 seconds.
Add 1 cup chopped onions and fry until they turn translucent (5-6 minutes), stirring frequently.
Now add 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste and fry till onions turn golden brown (5-6 minutes). Stir frequently.
Now add 2 teaspoon chopped green chilies, 1 cup chopped tomatoes, and 8-10 cashew nuts (soaked in water) and fry for 2-3 minutes.
Remove the pan from heat and let the tomato mixture cool completely.
Add the cooled mixture to the jar of a blender jar along with ½ cup of water and blend to make a smooth puree. Scrap the sides of the blender a few times.
Add the smooth paste back to the same pan and heat on medium heat.
Now add 2 teaspoon coriander powder, ½ teaspoon turmeric powder, ½ teaspoon garam masala powder, 2 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder, and ½ teaspoon salt, and fry the masala for 3-4 minutes.
Add 2-3 tablespoon of water if the masala is burning.
Stir in 300 g paneer cubes, 100 g grated paneer, and 300 ml milk and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add 1 teaspoon honey, ¼ cup heavy cream, 2 teaspoon lime juice, and 2 tablespoon Kasuri methi and mix well. Cook for a minute.
If the curry is too thick for your liking, then thin it down with some warm water.
Check for salt and add more if required.
Garnish with cream swirl and serve hot with paratha or naan.
Frequently Asked Questions
To make paneer at home, boil 1-litre whole (full fat) milk until it comes to a rolling boil on medium-high heat. Switch off the heat and add 2 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar to the milk. The milk will curdle immediately. Let the milk rest for 5 minutes.
Strain the milk in a cheesecloth and press the cloth with a heavyweight to drain the water.
Keep aside for 1-2 hours until most of the water is drained and the paneer is set.
Now cut this paneer into pieces and use it as required.
The store-bought paneer sometimes turns chewy and rubbery after cooking. Soak the paneer cubes in hot water for 10 minutes to make sure they turn soft and succulent post-cooking.
You just have to skip onions and garlic from the recipe. The other ingredients and the method of preparation will remain the same.
To give it a restaurant-style smoky taste, smoke the curry using the Dungar method. Heat a piece of coal directly on the flame until it becomes hot and red in color. Place the heated piece of charcoal in a small bowl and place the bowl in the pan over the curry. Drizzle a little ghee on top of the heated coal. Cover the pan immediately with a lid and let the smoke get infused in the curry for 3-5 minutes. Open the lid, remove the bowl with coal, heat the curry once again, and serve.
Yes, homemade malai can be used instead of cream or milk. It adds perfect creamy and rich texture to the dish. Make the malai smooth using a whisk before adding to the gravy.
For a vegan version, you can substitute paneer with tofu, butter with more oil, and milk and cream with coconut or cashew cream.
The ingredients to make these two dishes are very similar yet they are very different in taste and texture.
Paneer Lababdar has grated paneer added to the gravy along with the paneer cubes which gives it a very rich and chunky texture. The gravy of Shahi Paneer, on the other hand, is silky smooth and creamy.
These two are very different curries. While Paneer Lababdar is creamy, sweetish, and rich, Kadai Paneer gravy is on the spicier side. It also has cubes of capsicum added to it.
You can add a dollop of butter on top of the hot curry just before serving.
You can also make heavy cream swirls on top before serving. Thin down the cream with a few drops of water for easy drizzling.
This is a low crab dish so if you are on a low carb diet, pair it with a low carb tortilla for a delicious meal.
Paneer Lababdar will last in the fridge for 2-3 days when stored in an airtight container.
Reheat in a pan or microwave and adjust the consistency by adding a little water if required.
You can also freeze the curry. Make the curry without adding milk, heavy cream, and paneer, and freeze it for about a month in a freezer-safe container or ziplock bag.
Thaw and reheat. While reheating add in milk, heavy cream, and paneer and serve hot.
You Might Also Like
Creamy Paneer Lababdar Recipe (Restaurant Style)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted)
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 inch piece of cinnamon stick
- 2 whole green cardamoms
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
- 2 teaspoons chopped green chilies
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- 8-10 cashew nuts (soaked in hot water for 10 minutes)
- 2 teaspoons coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
- 2 teaspoons Kashmiri red chili powder
- ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 300 grams paneer (cut into small cubes, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes)
- 100 grams grated paneer
- 300 milliliters milk
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons Kasuri methi
- Heat vegetable oil and butter in a pan over medium-high heat.
- Once the oil is hot, add cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, and green cardamoms and let them crackle for 4-5 seconds.
- Add onions and fry until they turn translucent (5-6 minutes), stirring frequently.
- Now add ginger garlic paste and fry till onions turn golden brown (5-6 minutes), stirring frequently.
- Now add green chilies, tomatoes, and cashew nuts and fry for 2-3 minutes.
- Remove the pan from heat and let the tomato mixture cool completely.
- Add the cooled mixture to the jar of a blender along with ½ cup water and blend to make a smooth paste. Scrap the sides of the blender a few times.
- Add the smooth paste to the same pan and heat on medium heat.
- Now add coriander powder, turmeric powder, garam masala powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, and salt, and fry the masala for 3-4 minutes.
- Add 2-3 tablespoons of water if the masala is burning.
- Stir in paneer cubes, grated paneer, and milk and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add honey, heavy cream, lime juice, and Kasuri methi and mix well. Cook for a minute.
- If the curry is too thick for your liking, then thin it down with some warm water.
- Check for salt and add more if required.
- Serve hot with Paratha or Naan.
Open the lid, remove the bowl with coal, heat the curry once again, and serve. The store-bought paneer sometimes turns chewy and rubbery after cooking. Soak the paneer cubes in hot water for 10 minutes to make sure they turn soft and succulent post-cooking. You can use homemade malai instead of cream or milk. It adds perfect creamy and rich texture to the dish. Make the malai smooth using a whisk before adding to the gravy.