Paneer lababdar is a restaurant style north Indian paneer curry served as side dish for naan, roti, jeera rice. Made with a base of onions, tomatoes and cashews this curry has a unique flavor, taste and texture. Vegetarian and gluten free.
Punjabi paneer lababdar is a popular curry that you will find in some north Indian restaurant menus. Soft paneer cubes simmered in a rich curry base is totally delicious with naan or roti, lachha paratha etc.
Do you love paneer but looking for paneer curries other than butter paneer or kadai paneer? Well then this restaurant style paneer lababdar recipe is the right fit for you.
Though made with similar ingredients as that of paneer butter masala, this curry has a different texture and flavor with a wonderful taste.
You may not find this curry in all the restaurants though. It is less popular but very delicious and flavorful paneer curry that is easy to make at home as well.
I first tasted this curry in a small restaurant in Bangalore and liked it very much. I have been making this recipe which is combination of various recipes of paneer lababdar I found in magazines and cook books.
Over the years I have tweaked the recipe to bring the restaurant taste and this is a top favorite at our home. I serve this with Indian breads mostly.
About This Recipe
In this recipe we will first prepare an onion tomato cashew based curry and simmer cubed paneer or cottage cheese in that onion tomato gravy.
There are two ways to prepare this paneer gravy dish. One is Punjabi paneer lababdar as I am sharing here and the other one is Mughlai style which is more shahi style with dry fruits, nuts and seeds.
This Punjabi style curry is moderately spicy, mildly tangy and sweet and very flavorful. Goes very well with Indian breads.
I always make restaurant style paneer lababdar for parties, get togethers and special occasions as it is really easy to make a large volume, super tasty and very rich. We always prefer paneer dishes for parties and this lababdar recipe is one of the best choices.
The whole curry gets ready in 30 minutes, stores well for 2 days in refrigerator. This creamy rich and tasty curry is truly one of its kind and I am sure you will love it.
Read on to get the recipe with step by step photos, tips and tricks along with serving suggestions.
This restaurant style paneer lababdar is
So easy to make
simple recipe with pantry staple ingredients
vegetarian and gluten free
rich, creamy and tasty
perfect for parties and festivals
Why Is It Called Lababdar?
Lababdar is a Mughlai slang or word meaning strong desire and extremely desired. So it is more of an emotion like a paneer curry that is extremely desired 🙂
This vegetarian version rich and creamy paneer recipe is the variation for popular chicken lababdar recipe
Here is the list of ingredients you will need to make paneer lababdar gravy at home. Most of these are Indian pantry staples only.
Paneer or Indian cottage cheese– Use fresh best quality paneer for best tasting lababdar. We will add paneer in 2 ways in this curry. Paneer cubes as in with any paneer curry and then some grated paneer for that rich texture.
I always prefer homemade paneer for paneer recipes as it is more soft and fresh. If you are using store bought paneer keep it warm water for 20 minutes before adding to the curry.
Tomatoes– The base gravy of this curry is tomato puree and cashew paste along with caramelized onions. Use plump ripe red tomatoes for best taste in this paneer dish. You can also use canned tomatoes if fresh tomatoes are not good.
As in with most of the tomato based paneer curries I like to use a bit of tomato paste for flavor and color in this paneer recipe too.
Cashews– To make the curry super rich and mildly sweet, we add some cashew paste in this recipe. Cashew nuts also make the curry super rich and creamy.
Onions– finely chopped onions are sautéed and slightly caramelized to lend slight sweetness and wonderful flavor to this restaurant style paneer lababdar curry.
Spice powders– The spice powders used in this lababdar paneer curry are the usual spices like garam masala powder, Kashmiri red chilli powder, coriander powder. Along with this we also add a bay leaf, few green cardamom and few Kashmiri dried red chilies.
Herbs– Chopped cilantro or coriander leaves and some dried kasuri methi or dried fenugreek leaves for flavor.
Fresh cream– for richness and to cut to the spicy taste. Add as much as you like. It makes this paneer lababdar gravy rich and creamy.
Preparation For North Indian Lababdar Paneer
Cut paneer into 1/4 inch cubes. If you are using store bought paneer soak the cubed paneer in warm water until use. You will also need 1/2 cup grated paneer.
Rinse and roughly chop 3 large tomatoes.
Add them to a blender and puree them along with 3 dried Kashmiri red chilies.
Soak 15 cashews in warm water for 15 minutes. Blend to a smooth paste.
Chop 1 large onion finely and set aside. Also slit 2 green chillies, mince ginger and garlic and set aside. You can also use ginger garlic paste.
How To Make Restaurant Style Paneer Lababdar
Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a pan. Add cumin seeds, bay leaf, green cardamom and 1/4 inch cinnamon stick. Saute the whole spices for few seconds.
Add 1 cup finely chopped onions and saute for a minute.
Next add slit green chilies and 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste or minced ginger and garlic. Saute until the raw flavor leaves.
Add the tomato puree and tomato paste. Mix well.
Saute till the tomatoes are cooked a bit.
Next add 1 teaspoon red chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder or jeera powder , 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder and 1 teaspoon garam masala powder. Mix well to combine.
Once the gravy base is well cooked add 1 cup water and mix well. Add salt to taste and 1/2 teaspoon sugar.
Bring the mixture to a boil.
Now add the cashew paste and mix well. Now if the gravy is too thick add 1 cup water again and simmer till the curry reaches desired consistency.
Next add fresh cream and mix. Also add the grated paneer and simmer for a minute.
Finally add the cubed paneer and mix well gently. Simmer for a minute again.
Add ginger juliennes, crushed kasuri methi or dried fenugreek leaves and mix well. Add chopped coriander leaves and remove from flame.
Serve restaurant style paneer lababdar curry immediately. See serving suggestions for meal ideas.
For any paneer recipes try to use best quality soft and fresh paneer for best taste. If the paneer is not fresh it will turn hard and chewy on cooking.
Use plump ripe tomatoes for vibrant gravy. If the tomatoes are not ripe, the gravy will be unpleasantly sour.
Adding cashews really elevates the taste of this curry. make sure to blend it into a smooth paste. cashews also give the gravy base that rich consistency.
To make the curry even richer you can add melon seeds along with cashews. Just soak the melon seeds also in warm water and blend to a smooth paste.
If you prefer a lighter curry you can use blanched almond paste instead of cashews.
Grated paneer lends a different chewy texture and makes this paneer lababdar unique, so do add it.
Kasuri methi lends a wonderful taste and that signature Punjabi flavor to the dish, so do add it.
You can vary the proportions of spice powders to suit your taste.
How to make this curry vegan?
To make this dish vegan substitue
- butter with oil
- paneer with tofu
- cream with dairy free cream or coconut cream.
How to make this without onion and garlic?
Just skip them and follow the recipe. As we are not using onions in gravy base it will not affect the quantity.
Can I skip cream
yes, just leave it out if you do not want to use.
What is the difference among paneer lababdar, kadai paneer, shahi paneer and paneer butter masala?
Paneer lababdar has grated paneer in the gravy so the texture is slightly coarse and chewy. It is moderately spiced with slight sweet notes.
Paneer butter masala though made with the same ingredients has a smooth silky texture, very mildly spiced and prominently sweet.
Shahi paneer is from different cuisine. This Mughlai style recipe is made with good dose of nuts and dry fruits, very rich and not spicy at all.
Paneer kadai on the other hand is one of the spiciest and robust paneer recipes out there. It has no cashews or cream, made with potent whole spices.
Can I freeze this curry?
Yes this paneer labadar stays good in refrigerator for 2 days.
If you want to freeze, prepare the gravy base without cream, cool to room temperature and freeze. Gently reheat, add cream, grated paneer and paneer cubes, simmer for 2 minutes and serve.
How to serve this gravy?
This restaurant style paneer lababdar recipe tastes very good with all Indian breads and rice.
I hope you will try this paneer lababdar recipe and enjoy as much as we did. Please give a star rating ★ in the recipe card below. Follow us on Pinterest , Instagram, Facebook for more recipes and ideas
Restaurant Style Paneer Lababdar Recipe
- 1.5 cups paneer cut into cubes
- 3 tomatoes large, chopped roughly
- 15 cashews
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cloves
- 2 green cardamom
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 green chilies
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste or minced ginger and garlic
- 1 big onion finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
- 1.5 cups Water
- 2 tablespoons fresh cream
- 1 teaspoon kasuri methi
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander/cilantro leaves
- Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a pan. Add cumin seeds, bay leaf, green cardamom and 1/4 inch cinnamon stick. Saute the whole spices for few seconds.
- Add 1 cup finely chopped onions and saute for a minute.
- Next add slit green chilies and 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste or minced ginger and garlic. Saute until the raw flavor leaves.
- Add the tomato puree and tomato paste. Mix well.
- Saute till the tomatoes are cooked a bit.
- Next add 1 teaspoon red chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder or jeera powder , 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder and 1 teaspoon garam masala powder. Mix well to combine.
- Once the gravy base is well cooked add 1 cup water and mix well. Add salt to taste and 1/2 teaspoon sugar.
- Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Now add the cashew paste and mix well. Now if the gravy is too thick add 1 cup water again and simmer till the curry reaches desired consistency.
- Next add fresh cream and mix. Also add the grated paneer and simmer for a minute. Finally add the cubed paneer and mix well gently. Simmer for a minute again.
- Add ginger juliennes, crushed kasuri methi or dried fenugreek leaves and mix well. Add chopped coriander leaves and remove from flame. Serve restaurant style paneer lababdar curry immediately. See serving suggestions for meal ideas.
- The nutrition values are rough estimates only.
- The recipe can be doubled.