How to Make Paneer Lababdar at Home: Authentic Recipe and Tips

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Written By Haryana’s Restaurant

Authentic Indian Food – Classic Indian Cuisine in Terrace BC

If you’re a fan of creamy paneer dishes, then paneer lababdar will quickly become your new favorite. This North Indian delicacy features soft cubes of paneer swimming in a rich tomato-onion gravy, enhanced with the addition of grated paneer for extra texture and flavor. Unlike smoother gravies like paneer makhani or shahi paneer, paneer lababdar offers a thick, comforting sauce that’s bursting with taste.

The term “lababdar” hints at temptation and drool-worthy appeal—exactly what you’ll experience when this dish hits your table. Traditionally served with roti or naan, it also pairs wonderfully with jeera rice for a complete meal. Whether you’re cooking for family or impressing guests, this restaurant-style recipe brings the flavors of North Indian dhabas straight to your kitchen.

Ingredients

For the Paneer

  • 7 oz paneer (cut into 2-inch chunks)
  • 2 oz grated paneer (for adding texture to the sauce)

For the Lababdar Sauce

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 medium tomatoes (roughly chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 2 pods green cardamom
  • 4 cloves
  • 15 cashews
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Finely chopped onions (quantity as per taste)
  • Reserved liquid from boiling tomatoes and spices

For Garnish

  • Fresh cream (for added richness)
  • Chopped cilantro or coriander leaves

Equipment Needed

To prepare the delectable paneer lababdar, you’ll need some essential kitchen equipment to ensure a smooth cooking process. Below is a detailed list of what you will require:

  • Large Pan or Kadai: For cooking the gravy and sautéing ingredients.
  • Blender or Mixer Grinder: To make a smooth puree of the boiled tomatoes, spices, and onions.
  • Pressure Cooker (optional): Useful for quickly boiling the tomatoes if you’re short on time.
  • Knife and Cutting Board: Essential for chopping vegetables like onions, tomatoes, and garlic.
  • Measuring Spoons and Cups: To accurately measure spices and other ingredients.
  • Stirring Spoon or Spatula: For stirring the gravy while it cooks to prevent sticking.
  • Bowl: To hold chopped vegetables or pureed mixtures temporarily.

Preparation

In this section, you will learn how to make paneer at home and prepare the essential ingredients for the rich, flavorful sauce that defines paneer lababdar.

Making Paneer at Home

  1. Boil Milk: Pour 4 cups of full-fat milk into a large pot. Bring it to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add Acid: Once the milk starts boiling, reduce the heat and add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar gradually while stirring.
  3. Curdle Milk: Continue adding until the milk curdles completely, separating into curds and whey.
  4. Strain Curds: Line a colander with cheesecloth and pour the curdled milk through it to strain out the whey.
  5. Rinse and Drain: Rinse the curds under cold water to remove any lemon or vinegar taste, then gather up the cheesecloth and squeeze out excess water.
  6. Shape Paneer: Place a heavy object on top of the wrapped curds for about 30 minutes to form a block of paneer.

Preparing Essential Ingredients for the Sauce

  1. Chop Vegetables:
  • Finely chop 2 large onions.
  • Roughly chop 4 large tomatoes for blending later.
  • Slit 2 green chilies lengthwise.
  1. Make Tomato-Cashew Puree:
  • Add chopped tomatoes, 10-12 cashews, 1-inch cinnamon stick, 3 cloves, 2 dried red chilies, and 3 cardamom pods to a blender.
  • Blend until smooth without adding water.
  1. Prepare Aromatics & Spices:
  • Grate or finely mince a small piece (about an inch) of ginger.
  • Crush garlic cloves (about four).
  • Measure out spices including chili powder (1 tsp), turmeric (½ tsp), garam masala (1 tsp), coriander powder (1 tsp), salt (to taste), sugar (to taste).

Cooking the Lababdar Sauce

Now that you have prepared your ingredients, it’s time to cook the rich and flavorful lababdar sauce. Follow these steps to create an aromatic base and infuse it with spices for a perfect Paneer Lababdar.

Cooking Tomato and Onion Base

  1. Heat Oil: In a large pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat.
  2. Add Aromatics: Add 1 bay leaf, 4 cloves, 4 cardamoms, and a 1-inch cinnamon stick. Sauté until fragrant.
  3. Sauté Onions: Add ½ cup finely chopped onions and sauté until they turn golden brown.
  4. Ginger-Garlic Paste: Incorporate 1 tablespoon of ginger-garlic paste into the onions and cook for another minute until the raw smell disappears.
  5. Tomato-Cashew Puree: Pour in the prepared tomato-cashew puree (made from blending tomatoes and cashews) into the pan. Stir well to combine with the onion mixture.
  6. Cook Mixture: Let this mixture cook on medium heat for about 10-12 minutes until you see oil separating from the sides.

Adding Spices and Finishing the Sauce

  1. Incorporate Spices:
  • Add 1¼ teaspoon coriander powder,
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala,
  • And ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder.
  1. Seasoning:
  • Add salt to taste (approximately ¾ teaspoon),
  • And stir everything together ensuring all spices are well mixed.
  1. Add Water & Cook Further:
  • Pour in about ¾ to 1 cup water based on desired gravy consistency,
  • Mix well,
  • And let it simmer for another couple of minutes.
  1. Final Touches:
    Add sugar (¾ teaspoon), crushed kasuri methi (½ to ¾ teaspoon), slit green chilli (optional), grated paneer (about half of your total paneer quantity), cubed paneer pieces, any remaining butter from frying paneer, and heavy cream (2-3 tablespoons).
  2. Simmer Sauce:
    Allow the curry to simmer on low heat for an additional two minutes without letting it come to a boil.

Your delicious lababdar sauce is now ready! Serve hot with naan or jeera rice for an authentic North Indian dining experience at home.

Assembling the Dish

Now that your rich, aromatic sauce is ready, it’s time to bring everything together for the final masterpiece.

Adding Paneer to the Sauce

  1. Add Paneer Cubes: Gently fold in the paneer cubes into the simmering sauce. Ensure each piece is well-coated with the flavorful gravy.
  2. Cook on Low Heat: Let it cook on low heat for about 5-7 minutes. This allows the paneer to absorb all the spices and flavors from the sauce without breaking apart.
  3. Stir Occasionally: Stir occasionally but gently to prevent sticking and ensure even cooking.

Garnishing and Serving

  1. Add Grated Paneer: Sprinkle grated paneer over the top of your dish. It adds a lovely texture and enhances richness.
  2. Drizzle Heavy Cream: Drizzle ¼ cup of heavy cream over your dish for an indulgent, creamy finish.
  3. Sprinkle Kasuri Methi and Garam Masala: Finish by sprinkling crushed kasuri methi and a pinch of garam masala for that authentic Punjabi flair.
  4. Garnish with Fresh Herbs (Optional): Optionally, garnish with freshly chopped cilantro or mint leaves for added freshness and color.

Your restaurant-style Paneer Lababdar is now ready to serve! Enjoy this delightful dish with naan, roti or steamed rice for an unforgettable meal experience at home.

Serving Suggestions

Paneer Lababdar is a versatile dish that pairs wonderfully with various Indian breads and rice dishes, enhancing your dining experience. Here are some serving suggestions to elevate your meal:

With Indian Breads

  • Chapati: Serve paneer lababdar hot with freshly made chapatis. The soft texture of chapati complements the creamy gravy perfectly.
  • Tandoori Roti: For a more rustic touch, pair it with tandoori roti. The slightly charred flavor of tandoori roti adds an extra layer of depth to the dish.
  • Naan: Garlic naan or butter naan are excellent choices. Their pillowy softness soaks up the rich gravy, making each bite delightful.

With Rice Dishes

  • Cumin Rice (Jeera Rice): Aromatic cumin rice paired with paneer lababdar creates a harmonious balance of flavors.
  • Vegetable Pulao: A mildly spiced vegetable pulao can serve as a wonderful base for this rich curry, adding variety and color to your plate.

Garnishing Tips

Enhance the presentation and flavor by garnishing your paneer lababdar with:

  • Chopped coriander leaves
  • Ginger julienne
  • A drizzle of cream or melted butter for added richness

Beverage Pairings

To complete your meal, consider serving refreshing beverages like:

  • Lassi (sweet or salted)
  • Mango juice
  • Mint lemonade

These drinks complement the spices in paneer lababdar and provide a cooling contrast.

Following these serving suggestions, you can enjoy an authentic North Indian restaurant-style meal right at home.

Storage and Reheating Tips

Proper storage and reheating ensure your paneer lababdar retains its delicious flavor and creamy texture. Follow these tips for the best results:

Storage

  1. Cool Completely: Allow your paneer lababdar to cool completely before storing it. This prevents condensation, which can water down the sauce.
  2. Airtight Container: Transfer the dish to an airtight container to maintain freshness and prevent any external odors from affecting its taste.
  3. Refrigeration: Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Paneer lababdar keeps well when stored properly, maintaining its flavors and consistency.

Freezing

  1. Freeze in Portions: For longer storage, freeze paneer lababdar in individual portions using freezer-safe containers or heavy-duty freezer bags.
  2. Labeling: Clearly label each container with the date of preparation to keep track of its shelf life.
  3. Shelf Life: When frozen correctly, paneer lababdar can last up to 2 months without losing much of its quality.

Reheating

  1. Thawing Frozen Paneer Lababdar:
  • Place it in the refrigerator overnight for slow thawing.
  • Alternatively, use a microwave’s defrost setting if you need quicker thawing.
  1. Stovetop Method:
  • Transfer the paneer lababdar to a saucepan or skillet.
  • Add a splash of water or cream if necessary to adjust consistency.
  • Heat on medium-low heat while stirring occasionally until heated through evenly.
  1. Microwave Method:
  • Place a portion into a microwave-safe bowl.
  • Cover with a microwave-safe lid or plastic wrap (leave one corner open).
  • Heat on medium power for 2-4 minutes, stirring halfway through, until hot throughout.

Conclusion

Paneer lababdar is a delightful addition to any meal, bringing rich flavors and textures straight from North Indian cuisine into your home. By following the detailed steps for making homemade paneer and preparing the aromatic tomato-cashew puree, you can create an authentic dish that’s sure to impress.

Pair it with your favorite Indian breads or rice dishes, and don’t forget the garnishing touches that elevate its presentation. With proper storage and reheating techniques, you’ll ensure every serving retains its original taste and texture. Dive into this culinary adventure and enjoy the true essence of paneer lababdar anytime you wish!

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