Paneer Pasanda vs Paneer Butter Masala

Paneer Pasanda vs Paneer Butter Masala: 9 Things You Need to Know

Last modified on July 29, 2022

Rich and creamy, paneer butter masala is often the cure to all our cheese cravings. However, paneer pasanda is even more extravagant (if you can believe it!), with shallow-fried stuffed paneer triangles doused in a creamy, tangy sauce. But, how do paneer pasanda vs paneer butter masala compare? Come find out as we delve deep into how these cheesy Indian curries fare against each other.

#1 Paneer Pasanda and Paneer Butter Masala Use Similar Ingredients

One look at the gravies of paneer butter masala and paneer pasanda will have you figure out one thing: they use similar ingredients. These regular curries on every Indian restaurant menu are orange-red in color, thanks to tomato puree, turmeric powder, and red chili powder in the sauce. 

When you look at the ingredient list for both these recipes, you will find several other common names like onions, cashew nuts, bay leaf, fresh cream, coriander powder, fenugreek leaves (Kasuri methi), and garam masala powder. 

Moreover, both gravies are blended for a smooth texture, making them look almost identical, except for using paneer cubes and fried paneer triangles. The sauces are creamy and tangy since tomatoes and heavy cream feature in both the recipes. Taste-wise, paneer pasanda vs paneer butter masala are both mild.

If you are someone who likes spicier gravies, check out this article on paneer butter masala vs paneer tikka masala.

However, a few subtle changes in how these dishes are cooked change the flavor profile a little, which we discuss later in the article.

#2 Paneer Pasanda Has a Longer Preparation Time

While paneer pasanda is delicious (who doesn’t love cheese on cheese on cheese?), it can be pretty time-consuming to make. 

When preparing paneer pasanda vs paneer butter masala, you must prepare and fry the paneer triangles. Whereas, in a butter masala, simply folding paneer cubes will do the job. 

To make the paneer triangles for the paneer pasanda recipe, you first cut the paneer into triangles. Then stuff it with a filling of grated paneer, khoya (homemade mawa), chopped green chilies, chopped coriander, raisins, chopped cashews, and mint leaves. Adjust salt in the filling as per taste; you can also add chili powder to make the filling spicier.

Once the filling is made, it is spread between two paneer triangles and coated in a corn starch slurry. Finally, the cheesy triangles are shallow fried and kept aside to be added to the gravy later. You can find the complete recipe here. 

Alternatively, you can try this quick-fire version of paneer pasanda that uses paneer slices or cubes and no tomatoes.

#3 Both Dishes Can Be Served With Flat Bread and Rice

Serving suggestions for paneer pasanda vs paneer butter masala are the same. Both curries can be served with basmati or jeera rice. You can also serve them with roti, naan, or paratha. The lightly loose consistency of the gravies allows them to be eaten in numerous ways.

#4 Paneer Pasanda vs Paneer Butter Masala: Recipe Variations 

Although their recipe cards may seem pretty similar, there are few significant changes in how paneer pasanda and butter masala is cooked.

First, paneer butter masala is cooked in butter; the pasanda gravy, on the other hand, has no such requirement. Moreover, for the pasanda gravy, you usually have to sauté cumin seeds in oil with ginger and garlic. In the butter masala, cumin powder is used, and that too occasionally.

Finally, the most significant distinction between the two recipes is that paneer pasanda uses brown onion paste. The paneer butter masala recipe also requires you to turn onion into a smooth paste, but it is usually done when it’s slightly pink and cooked down with tomatoes. 

#5 Both Dishes Have a Creamy Tomato Base

Paneer is probably the most popular Indian food in the world and can be made in several ways. Numerous curry dishes feature this ingredient, from tikka masala to pasanda to butter masala, mainly with a creamy tomato base, with changes in the intensity of the tomato flavor and the spices. 

However, in these two dishes, the gravy flavor is pretty much the same as both use tomato puree and cut down the tanginess with cashew paste. The little onion paste tweak slightly affects the overall taste, but the creaminess and tanginess shine through in these silky smooth gravies.

#6 You Can Cook Paneer Pasanda and Butter Masala With Frozen Paneer

While there really is no excuse for using anything other than fresh homemade paneer (it is super easy to make), you can make both these dishes with frozen paneer. However, you must first allow the frozen paneer slices or block to thaw on the counter for a couple of hours and then soak it in a cup of water to become soft. 

Here is our complete guide on how to thaw frozen paneer blocks.

If you want the vegan substitute, you can switch paneer with tofu. 

#7 Origin of Paneer Pasanda vs Paneer Butter Masala

Paneer pasanda and paneer butter masala are vegetarian variations of butter chicken since they follow the same method of simmering the protein source in a rich tomato sauce. 

Butter chicken is said to be first made by a chef in Delhi’s Moti Mahal restaurant in the 1950s. The chef either repurposed leftover or put the chicken pieces in the gravy by happenstance; regardless, butter chicken was born, which was later made with vegetarian alternatives like paneer, to give birth to paneer butter masala. 

Here is a video on how to prepare paneer butter masala.

Paneer pasanda is yet another twist on a similar gravy recipe, but with influences from the Afghan and Persian cultures like the use of raisins. 

#8 You Can Make Both Dishes in an Instant Pot

Instant pot owners rejoice!

You can make both these recipes in an instant pot. You can save time by using an instant pot for paneer pasanda, but it won’t exactly be a one-pot recipe. However, paneer butter masala can be made in a single pot from start to finish. 

No matter how they are made, both dishes are best enjoyed with a dollop of fresh cream on top. 

#9 What is paneer Pasanda made of?

Paneer pasanda is made of paneer triangles stuffed with grated paneer, khoya, raisins, green chilis, coriander, mint, and chopped nut filling. These filled triangles are then coated with a corn flour slurry and fried before being added to creamy tomato gravy. 

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