Start by making thick yogurt. Add approx ¼ cup of plain yogurt to a fine-mesh strainer and let the liquid from it drip down for 30 minutes. You will get 2 tablespoon thick yogurt from it. You can also use Greek yogurt to fasten the process.
Add 2 tablespoon thick yogurt, 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste, 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder, salt to taste, 2 tablespoon lime juice, ½ teaspoon garam masala spice mix, and 2 teaspoon mustard oil to a large mixing bowl and mix everything well.
Wash 0.6 lb (300 g) paneer block with water and pat it dry using a kitchen towel. Cut the paneer block into 2-inch cubes. Peel 1 large onion and cut it into 2-inch cubes. Wash green bell pepper and cut it into 2-inch cubes as well.
Now add paneer cubes, cubed onion, and cubed green bell pepper to the marinade and mix gently to coat everything with the marinade. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
To gill the paneer
Oven Method – Thread the marinated paneer, onion, and capsicum in metal skewers. Preheat the oven at 430 degrees f (220 degrees C). Arrange the skewers on a baking tray and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes until the paneer pieces are slightly browned. Now set the oven to broil and broil for 4-5 minutes until the paneer is slightly charred.
Stove Top Method – Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wide pan (grill pan is better) and once it is hot, add in the marinated paneer cubes along with onion and capsicum. Arrange the paneer and veggies in a single layer. Cook them on high heat until all the sides are browned and slightly charred.
Air Fryer Method – Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F. Arrange the marinated paneer, onion, and capsicum in the basket of the air fryer and air fry for 10 minutes.
Grill – Use a charcoal or a BBQ grill to grill the paneer.
Keep the leftover marinade aside. We will use it later while making the gravy.
If using bamboo skewers, make sure to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes to avoid them from burning while grilling.
Once the paneer and veggies are grilled, remove them from the skewers and keep aside. Use a fork to take out the paneer, onion and capsicum cubes off the skewers.
For the gravy:
Heat 2 tablespoon vegetable oil and 2 tablespoon ghee in a large skillet over medium-high heat. I use a mixture of both oil and ghee as it gets the delicious flavor of ghee without getting too heavy. You can choose to use either oil or ghee.
When the oil is hot, add 2-3 cloves, 5-6 black peppercorns, 2 whole black cardamoms, and a 1-inch piece of whole cinnamon stick, and fry for 2-3 seconds. You can also crush the whole spices before adding them to the oil for a more profound flavor.
Add 1 cup of grated onion to the skillet and fry on medium heat until it is slightly browned. Keep stirring at regular intervals. It will take 6-8 minutes.
Now add 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste and fry till onions are nicely browned. Add a splash of water if the onions are sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. It will take 8-10 minutes for the onions to fry to the right consistency.
Once the onions are golden brown, add 1 cup grated tomato and ¼ cup tomato puree and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If tomato puree is not available, use 2 tablespoon of tomato paste.
Add the leftover marinade from the paneer tikka, 2 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder, ½ teaspoon turmeric powder, and salt to taste and cook for a few minutes.
Add a half cup of water and the grilled paneer and vegetables to the skillet. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the oil starts separating from the sides of the pan.
Now add 1 teaspoon honey, 1 teaspoon lime juice, ¼ cup heavy cream, and 1 tablespoon Kasuri methi and cook for a minute.
If you want that restaurant-style smoky paneer tikka masala, then do smoke (dhungar) this curry.To give a dhungar (smoky flavor) to this curry, heat a piece of charcoal ( or a whole cinnamon stick) over direct heat until it is red hot. If you don't have direct heat, you can heat it in an oven as well. Keep a small bowl over the ready curry and keep this red hot charcoal piece in the bowl. Drizzle a teaspoon of ghee over the charcoal and close the lid of the pan immediately. Let the curry absorb the smoke for 10-12 minutes. Remove the lid, take out the bowl, and give the curry a gentle mix. Your smoky tandoor style curry is ready.Homemade paneer is usually not that firm and can crumble while grilling. For this particular recipe, I prefer using a store-bought paneer.If you are using a store-bought paneer, wash the paneer block with water and pat it dry using a kitchen towel. Then keep it in warm water for 5 minutes, to make it a little soft.Marinate the paneer for at least 2 hours or even more, so that it soaks up the flavors really nice.Only use thick yogurt to marinate the paneer cubes. If you use normal yogurt, it will leave the water and the result won't be good.Some restaurants add orange food color to get the bright orange color in the gravy. If you want the same color, you can try adding it but I don't recommend it.If you don't have tomato puree available, use tomato paste instead. Make sure to reduce the amount as it is more concentrated.Use ripe and red tomatoes to get the sweetness and avoid the sour unripe tomatoes.Adding Kashmiri red chili powder in place of regular chili powder gives a nice color to the gravy without making it too spicy.Kasuri Methi gives a fabulous flavor to this curry. Do not skip it. In fact, make Kasuri Methi at home for the best result.When making paneer tikka for starters, make some extra. The leftover can be made into gravy the next day.