Paneer tikka, traditionally cooked in a tandoori oven, is a wildly exciting vegetarian protein option for adventurous cooks.
Making paneer tikka is a rewarding experience for the senses.Jump to Recipe
From layering in the spices with the yogurt while making the marinade, to the welcome, wafting aroma of the punchy hot and sour spices sizzling in the natural sugars that ooze out of the vegetables as they roast in the oven, expect to feel the nurture.
Similar to a souvlaki or kebab, you marinade the ingredients first in spiced yogurt, thread them onto a stick, and then roast at high temperatures to get flavorful charred edges that burst with flavor.
All you need for this recipe is a fresh, simple cheese (paneer), vegetables, such as bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes, Greek yogurt, and spices.
Paneer is made from pressed cheese curds. It’s a wonderful source of easy-to-digest protein, healthy fats, and nourishment.
Since this is a vegetarian food blog, and I am vegetarian, I am using paneer, but you could substitute the paneer with chicken.
Chicken tikka is a very popular option at Indian restaurants, and now you can make it at home.
Keep reading. I’m going to show you exactly how.
More than 14 different herbs and spices
Indian recipes are known for their abundant use of aromatic herbs and spices, and this recipe is like the granddaddy of all that.
There are no less than 14 spices listed in this recipe, and some of these are spice masalas, which refers to a mixture of many spices. This means there are upwards of 20 different spices.
Wow right? No wonder the flavor is so exciting!
Now, before you decide this recipe isn’t for you, let me assure you that you can leave out whichever spices you don’t have.
I have separated the spices in the recipe between the ones that are more common and easier to find, and the more exotic options.
I encourage you to go ahead and make the paneer tikka with the spices you do have, and it will still taste amazing.
I will highlight for you that the fiery red color of the marinade comes from Kashmiri red chili powder, which has all the brilliant color, without all the heat.
Kashmiri red chili powder is very mild chili that is only slightly more heating than paprika, which is my recommended substitute.
I always want to encourage you, because I want this recipe to be accessible to you, and not just another pretty thing someone else makes.
I’m here to help you to be a rock star cook, and I’m telling you that can do this!
How to make
To make paneer tikka, you’ll first make a marinade with Greek yogurt and spices.
Next, you cut up the paneer and vegetables into large pieces that you can thread onto skewers.
If you don’t want to bother with skewers you can leave this step out.
I would use the skewers only if I were having guests and I wanted to impress with that visual. Otherwise, it’s probably not worth the effort.
Now it’s time to combine the marinade with the paneer and vegetables. Let that rest for 1 hour or longer, such as overnight in the fridge.
Finally, it’s time to roast it. Roasting is going to take about 20-25 minutes.
Make those skewers, or simply spread the vegetables onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
We’ll bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 12 minutes until lightly browned, turn once, then finish roasting on the other side until baked to perfection.
I recommend cooking the tikka in an oven, but you could also sauté the marinaded pieces in a skillet, or grill them.
What is paneer?
Paneer is the world’s simples cheese. It is made with two ingredients: milk and lemon juice.
The lemon juice curdles the milk, separating the curds and the whey. Then the curds are pressed into a block.
Paneer can easily be made at home, or it can also be purchased at an Indian or natural foods grocery store.
Once you’ve obtained it, there are millions of fun things to do with paneer, such as add it to a soup or stew.
This recipe for vegetarian stew with protein is also wonderful with paneer.
Like I said before, you could substitute the paneer with chicken pieces.
- awesome with cilantro chutney and fresh lemon wedges on the side
- serve as an appetizer with the chutney
- serve as a main course, with basmati rice, optional flatbread, and a green salad
- turn the tikka into a wrap filling, along with thinly sliced red onions and lettuce
- use as a pizza topping, such as for naan pizzas
- finely chop the cooked tikka and mix with rice (like fried rice) or another whole grain
Easy Paneer Tikka Recipe
For the tikka
- 300 grams paneer, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 large bell peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 red onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 tomatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons butter or oil, for brushing the tikka
For the marinade
- ¾ cups Greek yogurt, (sub with 1 cup regular whole yogurt; see notes)
- 1 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped or grated
- 1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 1 ½ teaspoons lime juice, (sub with paprika)
- 3 taspoons Kashmiri chili powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Make the marinade and prepare the vegetables
- You will need skewers for this recipe, either wooden or metal. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water until needed to prevent them from charring in the hot oven. You may also choose not to use skewers and bake all your goodies on a tray.
- In a large bowl, combine Greek yogurt with ginger, garlic, lime juice, Kashmiri red chili powder (or paprika), coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric, black pepper powder, and salt.
- Add in all optional spices that you have: garam masala, fennel powder, chaat masala, aamchur powder, and kasoori methi. Mix well and set aside.
- Chop veggies and paneer into 1 inch pieces, and add to the bowl with the prepared marinade.
- Gently mix the paneer and vegetables in the marinade using a spatula. You want to be careful not to break the paneer. All the pieces should be coated with marinade.
- Cover the bowl and set it in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
Assemble the tikka
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper to hold the tikka, and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Make the tikka by skewering the vegetables and paneer, alternating so that all types of vegetables are included on each stick, and the paneer is evenly distributed. If you are not using the skewers, spread the vegetables and paneer in an even layer onto the baking tray.
- Brush a generous amount of ghee, butter, or oil onto the tikka. Not only is it super tasty, the oil prevents the tikka from drying out in the oven.
Cook the tikka
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, then pull the tray out to check it. If the tikka is lightly browning on the bottom, turn the tikka one by one (or with a spatula) and bake for another 10 minutes.
- When they are done, the tikka will be brown with charred edges, but they should still look juicy. For extra char, turn on the oven broiler and broil carefully until blackened to your liking.
- Paneer tikka are fabulous served with cilantro chutney and fresh lemon wedges. Leave it on the skewer for a fun serving style, or remove the pieces first if you prefer.
- For a complete meal, serve the tikka as a main course with basmati rice and a green salad.