Paneer Masala-Dhaba Style

Dhaba Style Paneer Masala Recipe with rustic Indian flavors in aromatic spices and onion tomato masala

Dhaba Style Paneer Masala

Dhabas are the roadside restaurants or eateries on Indian highways. Dhabas style cooking is the most simple type of cooking with locally available ingredients. In the beginning Dhabas, were opened to serve food to the truck drivers that operated on highways. But soon, these became popular among the travelers and now people from adjoining areas also come to relish the rustic local food. Dhaba culture is mostly popular in the North Indian states like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and some parts of Rajasthan.

Paneer or Indian Cottage Cheese need no introduction. It is an Indian cheese that can be made easily at home(Homemade Paneer). It is such versatile ingredient that most of the vegetarians love to have . Since most of the Indian do not have lactose intolerance and majority of population is vegetarian, it is one of the common way after lentils to consume proteins. Paneer dishes are most commonly ordered whenever vegetarian go out for meals at restaurants. Guests coming over??  atleast one Paneer dish will be there in the menu for a dinner party or special occasion.

There numerous dishes that can be made using Paneer. It is used in gravies like Paneer Makhani, Shahi Paneer Koftas, starters like Paneer Tikka Masala, Basil Paneer Pesto Tikka, Paneer Nuggets, Paneer Pakora, desserts like Paneer Ki Kheer, many Bengali sweets or Kalakand to name a few.

Like most of the kids, my kids love to have Paneer dishes. Give them Paneer in any form, and they finish their lunch or dinner happily without any complaining. I love to experiment with Paneer used in different gravies, made nuggets, kebabs, or just grate it and use it as a filling in paranthas and sandwiches.

Dhaba style Masala

In Dhaba Style of cooking we use minimum number of spices. Along with onion and tomato masala, curd/yogurt is used to give it a characteristic  taste and also adds on to the creaminess in the gravy. Also, the use of whole spices, Kasuri methi/dried fenugreek leaves and garam masala adds on to the rustic flavors.

I make this Paneer Masala quite often. It doesn’t use much of butter/oil or cream. I call it Dhaba Paneer Masala, as it made using simple onion tomato masala and has a rustic taste just like you get at any roadside Dhaba dish.

Unlike Khoya Paneer  or Palak Paneer  we use lot of onions in this gravy. Also, finely chopped onion and tomatoes are used and cooked nicely in spices, that there is no need to grind the masala to smooth paste. There is less cream used as compared to other cream based paneer gravies.

Let’s see how to make Dhaba Style Paneer Masala

Ingredients for Paneer Masala


Method to make Paneer Masala

You tube Video Recipe Click on the link Paneer Masala Dhaba Style 

Finely chop onions and tomatoes.

Make paste coarse paste of ginger, garlic and green chilies.

Ina pan, add whole spices and cumin seeds, once seeds crackle, add onions and sauté till light pink.

Then add ginger and garlic paste and sauté till onions are light brown.

Next, add finely chopped tomatoes, and cook till soft and mushy. Then add tomato sauce and all the spice powders.

Pls note do not add ketchup. Incase you don’t have store bought tomato sauce, puree 2 tomatoes 

Mix well and add curd/yogurt. Then add 1/2 cup water to add consistency of gravy. Don’t make it too thin .

Add paneer cubes and mix to coat paneer pieces in masala.

Serve hot with the bread of your choice. Goes best with fresh hot Chapatis, Naan bread, Lachha Paratha, Methi Paratha or plain Ajwain Paratha. My dad love to have this with Missi Roti or Besani Roti

Method Paneer Masala

You tube Video Recipe Click on the link Paneer Masala Dhaba Style 

Recipe Card for Dhaba Style Paneer Masala

Dhaba Style Paneer Masala

Paneer Masala Dhaba Style

Dhaba Style Paneer Masala Recipe rustic Indian flavors within 30 minutes, cooked in Indian spices for main course.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Dhaba Style Recipes, Indian, Indian North Indian
Servings 4


  • Heavy bottomed Pan or Kadhai


  • 2 cups Fresh Paneer 200 gms
  • 2 Onion(medium sized)
  • 3 Tomatoes(medium sized)
  • 1/2 Cup Readymade Tomato Puree
  • 4-5 Garlic Cloves
  • Ginger (small piece)
  • 1-2 Green Chilies optional
  • 1/2 Cup Yogurt or Curd
  • 1/4 Cup Cream


  • 4-5 Cloves
  • 4-5 Black Peppercorns
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1-2 Dry Whole Red Chilli optional
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds/Jeera
  • 1-2 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1-2 tsp Garam Masala
  • ½ tsp Red Chilli Powder
  • 1 tsp Dried Fenugrek Leaves/Kasuri Methi
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • 1 tbsp Butter


  • Wash and cut Paneer into small cubes.
  • Finely chop onion and tomatoes.
  • Make coarse paste of ginger garlic and green chilli. If making for kids or you have low heat tolerance skip chilies or use only 1.
  • In pan or kadhai, heat 2 tbsp. of oil and butter.
  • Add cumin seeds and other whole spices. Once the spices start giving aroma, add finely chopped onions.
  • Once onions start turning pink or translucent add ginger garlic and green chili paste and sauté till onions are lght brown.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and cook till soft and mushy, Then add tomato sauce. Pls note do not add ketchup. Incase you don't have store bought tomato sauce, puree 2 tomatoes and add.
  • Cook for another 2-3 minutes till masala starts to thicken.
  • Then add dry powdered spices(coriander powder, red chilli powder and garam masala) along with dried fenugreek leaves, sugar/jaggery. Cook for a minutes.
  • Add yogurt/curd and mix well. Take care it should not curdle.
  • Add cubed paneer pieces and add 1/2 cup water and cook for another 2-3 minutes.


Keyword Dhaba Style Paneer, Paneer recipes

Easy Pin image Paneer MAsala Dhaba Style

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Author: Swati

Some who believes 'EAT WELL, READ DAILY, TRAVEL OFTEN AND LAUGH KHUL KE'!!! Hi!! Swati here!!! Chef, Chocolatier, food admirer, reader, love to travel, listen to music, Bollywood and shoot nature and food pics!! Welcome to my Foodtrails and join me in my food adventure!!

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