Paneer tikka step-by-step recipe with video and photos.
About this recipe
Juicy paneer chunks marinated in fiery and tangy masala, skewered, and grilled to perfection, paneer tikka is one of the most popular vegetarian Punjabi appetizers. This dish is super simple to make - paneer (Indian cottage cheese) and vegetables are marinated in tandoori masala and grilled. It is a vegetarian alternative to the very popular chicken tikka.
This dish is traditionally made in a clay oven, called a tandoor. In this recipe, I am sharing three cooking techniques - air fryer, stovetop, and oven.
Tikkas are also perfect for barbeques and a great alternative to meat kebabs! Cubes of paneer and vegetables, crunchy & crumbly on the outside, soft & juicy inside is so so good.
Read on for ingredients, different cooking methods, and useful tips to make the perfect paneer tikka at home.
Paneer: Use store-bought or homemade paneer.
Yogurt: Make sure the yogurt is thick. Alternatively, you can also use Greek yogurt.
Vegetables: Onion and bell peppers are the most common veggies used in this dish. You can also add other vegetables like mushrooms, potatoes, cauliflower, etc.
Besan: Besan (chickpea flour) is a key ingredient. Roast the besan on low heat to remove the raw smell.
Spices: I use tandoori masala powder and chili powder.
Aromatics: I use store-bought ginger garlic paste. However, you can also grind root ginger and garlic cloves into a fine paste at home.
Oil: I have used olive oil; however, you may replace it with any cooking oil of your choice.
Marinate paneer and veggies
In a large bowl, add yogurt, roasted besan, ginger garlic paste, tandoori masala, Kashmiri chili powder, olive oil, and salt. Mix well making sure there are no lumps.
Add the paneer cubes and mix gently, making sure they are well coated. Set them aside on a plate.
Next, add the onion and peppers to the marination. Mix them well to make sure everything is well coated.
Thread the paneer and vegetables alternatively into a skewer.
Air Fryer Method
Lightly brush some oil on the air fryer basket and place the skewers in it. Air fry at 350 F (180 C) for 6-7 minutes.
Heat a grill pan and lightly brush some oil. Place the skewers carefully and let them cook on medium heat. Flip and cook on both sides until the paneer begins to turn golden. Increase the heat and let it char for 1-2 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 390 F (200 C). Place the skewers on top of an oven-safe tray so that the paneer and veggies can suspend. Place the tray in the preheated oven and bake for 12-15 minutes. Grill for a further 2-3 minutes, until the paneer is charred.
Serve paneer tikka with dips of your choice.
Which method is the best
While all three methods give a similar taste, I personally prefer making the tikka in an air fryer. It takes the least time and tastes the best. While the oven recreates the taste of a tandoor, it takes a lot of time. The stovetop method is quick but the tikka will not taste as good.
If you are making a large batch for parties or gatherings, use the oven method as it can be done in one go. You can also make tikkas using a barbecue. Check out this gobi tikka recipe or grilled whole cauliflower made in Weber gas barbecue.
Tandoori masala powder is a spice blend commonly used for grilling. It is easily available in Indian grocery stores. You can substitute it with the tandoori paste in this recipe without any compromise to the taste. Alternatively, use a mix of garam masala, amchur (dried mango powder), and Kashmiri chili powder, although this may alter the taste of the final dish.
Make sure the yogurt is thick. It should coat the paneer and veggies well, and stick to it. You can also use Greek yogurt instead of plain yogurt.
Kashmiri chili powder works best as it adds a nice red hue and is mild. You can replace it with any mild chili powder or paprika.
Do not add paneer and veggies together to the marinade. Paneer cubes are tender and can easily crumble or fall apart. It is best to coat the paneer cubes in the marination first, set them aside, and then add the vegetables.
Traditionally, mustard oil is used in this dish; however, I use olive oil as I find mustard oil a bit overpowering in it. Olive oil adds pungency and aroma to the dish without overpowering it. You may also replace it with ghee or any regular oil of your choice.
Roasted besan (chickpea flour) is an important ingredient in this dish and cannot be skipped. It adds thickness to the marinade and helps coat the marination to paneer. It also imparts a nice nutty flavor to the dish.
Onion and bell peppers are the most common veggies used. You can also add other veggies like baby corn, cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes, and mushroom.
Check out how to make tikka masala gravy here.
The most common vegetables used along with paneer are onions and bell peppers. Other vegetables like cauliflower, mushrooms, potatoes, broccoli, baby corn, etc. also taste great here.
Tandoori masala powder is a spice blend that is commonly used in grilling. It is easily available in Indian grocery stores and supermarkets. If you don't have access to it, substitute it with a mix of garam masala, amchur (dried mango powder), and Kashmiri chili powder. Alternatively, you can use the tandoori paste as a substitute too.
These paneer tikkas are:
- perfect for appetizers or snacks,
- easy to make,
- so delicious and rustic.
Paneer Tikka (Air fryer, Stovetop, Oven)
- 2 cups paneer
- 1 cup onion
- 1 cup bell peppers (I used a mix of red and green)
For the marinade:
- ¾ cup yogurt
- 3 tablespoon besan chickpea flour
- 1 tablespoon tandoori masala
- 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
- ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder (or any mild chili powder)
- ¾-1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- Cut the paneer into big cubes.
- Dice the onions and separate the petals. Deseed and cut the peppers.
- Dry roast the besan for 2-3 minutes, until the raw smell goes.
- In a large bowl, add yogurt, besan, ginger garlic paste, tandoori masala, Kashmiri chili powder, olive oil, and salt.
- Mix well making sure there are no lumps.
- Add the paneer cubes and mix gently, making sure they are well coated. Set them aside on a plate.
- Next, add the onion and peppers to the marinade. Mix them well to make sure everything is well coated.
- Let the paneer and vegetables marinate for 15-20 minutes.
- Thread the paneer and vegetables alternatively into a skewer.
Air fryer method:
- Lightly brush some oil on the air fryer basket and place the skewers in it.
- Air fry at 350 F (180 C) for 6-7 minutes.
- Heat a grill pan and lightly brush some oil.
- Place the skewers carefully and let them cook on medium heat.
- Flip and cook on both sides until the paneer begins to turn golden.
- Increase the heat and let it char for 1-2 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 390 F (200 C).
- Place the skewers on top of an oven-safe tray so that the paneer and veggies can suspend.
- Place the tray in the preheated oven and bake for 12-15 minutes.
- Grill for 2-3 minutes.