Paneer tikka recipe on tawa, in oven & air fryer. Tandoori paneer tikka is an immensely popular North Indian starter served in Indian restaurants. It is one of the most ordered vegetarian appetizer & is much loved by everyone for the amazing tandoori flavors.
So what is paneer tikka? Paneer tikka is an Indian appetizer where paneer chunks are marinated in spiced yogurt & grilled in a tandoor, a traditional clay oven.
The term paneer tikka literally translates to grilled chunks of Indian cottage cheese. Paneer refers to Indian cottage cheese and tikka translates to chunks of grilled food, most often refers to meat. But here it is the chunks of Indian cheese.
These chunks are marinated in spiced yogurt along with diced onions and capsicum so they absorb the flavors. These are then threaded to skewers & grilled in tandoor. The resulting tikkas are so delicious, flavorful and are served with mint chutney or green chutney.
How is paneer tikka made?
Traditionally paneer tikka was made in clay ovens known as tandoor which impart a characteristic smoky flavor to the dish. Having these ovens at home is not possible.
So with time and trend changing, now these are also made in electric ovens and even on gas stovetop using tawa (Indian griddle/pans). I am sharing both the methods i.e paneer tikka in oven and on tawa using stovetop.
No matter whether we make on tawa on stovetop, in oven, in tandoor or on a barbeque, the marinade made is standard and same. This recipe yields a delicious starter that tastes just like the one served in restaurants minus the smoky clay oven flavor.
Honestly nothing can bring that same exact clay oven flavor & not even the dhungar or smoking the finished tikkas. However smoking them towards the end imparts a smoky aroma but is not the same.
Apart from serving these as an appetizer, you can also use them in wraps, sandwiches, pizza and even for making fusion fried rice.
Preparation for paneer tikka
1. To make this recipe, we need greek yogurt or hung curd (thick curd). If you do not have thick curd, you can check this post on how to make hung curd. I have used thick curd here. If you use runny yogurt, it will let out lot of whey while grilling and all the masala will come off to the tray.
Cube paneer to 1½ inch cubes. Keep aside. Then choose 1 large onion and bell pepper. Rinse and cube them to almost the same size of paneer. Do not chop them small as they shrink after grilling. Separate the layers of onions.
Make a fine paste of 1 inch ginger & 3 cloves of garlic. We need about 1¼ fine paste.
2. To a mixing bowl, add
- 6 tablespoons thick curd
- 1 to 1½ teaspoon red chili powder
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 to 1½ teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon chaat masala
3. Next add
- 1¼ teaspoon ginger garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon crushed kasuri methi
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon ajwain (carom seeds, optional)
Optional: If making on a griddle or tawa add 1 tablespoon roasted besan. Dry roast besan until aromatic. It should lose the raw flavor, cool and add it. Or Roast the besan in 1½ tablespoon oil until fragrant and then cool it. Later mix with the marinade. Do not skip using besan it helps to hold the curd well to the paneer tikka. It also brings out a good flavor and will avoid messing up the tawa. This is done by many chefs for that extra flavor.
4. Add 1½ tablespoon oil. I have used mustard oil, you can also use any other oil.
5. Mix everything well. The marinade must be thick. Taste the marinade and add more salt and spices if needed.
6. Add capsicum and onions. Coat them well with marinade.
How to make paneer tikka
7. Move the veggies to one side of the bowl and add 200 grams cubed paneer and gently coat them as well. Handle with care they may break.
8. Cover and rest them in the fridge for an hour. If you leave them for too long, sometimes they break when you thread them on to the skewer later. If you prefer to keep them longer, thread them first and then refrigerate.
9. Next begin to thread them on skewers. With the quantities mentioned in the recipe card you can thread them on 3 large or 4 medium skewers. Paneer tikka on tawa and oven were made at 2 different times so the number of skewers seen in the pictures will not match the recipe.
Making on griddle
10. If making on griddle or tawa, heat a tawa with 1 tablespoon oil. When it turns hot, place the skewers in the center and grill them on a medium heat.
11. Finally turn them around to grill evenly until they turn golden. Place a wired rack over a direct fire like gas stove. Place these skewers over the fire and grill on direct flame until char grilled. This step will ensure all of the marinade is cooked through.
Remove paneer tikka to a serving plate, brush them with butter. Squeeze lemon juice and sprinkle some chaat masala if you prefer. Serve paneer tikka hot with onion, lemon wedges and mint chutney.
Making paneer tikka in oven
Preheat oven to 450 F or 230 C for at least 15 to 20 mins. If using an OTG choose, grill option. Place the skewers on a tray lined with greased foil or parchment paper. Spray oil on the skewers so the paneer and veggies won’t dry out. Keep the tray in the middle rack.
Grill for 10 to 11 mins. Brush them with the leftover marinade. This will prevent them from turning dry. Then move the tray to the top rack and broil for 2 to 3 mins until lightly charred or golden.
Do adjust the timing depending on the kind of oven and the thickness of the paneer cubes. Avoid overcooking them else they turn rubbery, chewy and hard.
Brush paneer tikka with mustard oil. Squeeze some lemon juice and serve hot with mint chutney.
Smoking paneer tikka: for a real smoky restaurant style paneer tikkas sometimes we smoke them with a hot charcoal after grilling. To do this I place a small steel bowl in the tray. Then hold a wood charcoal piece with tong and hold it over direct flame until red hot. Next keep it in the bowl and pour half teaspoon ghee.
You will begin to see fumes immediately. Cover the tray with another foil and let smoke for 5 to 6 minutes. You will be surprised at how smoky, aromatic and delicious your paneer tikkas will taste.
Paneer tikka in air fryer
You can also air fry the tikkas at 390 F or 200 C for 5 mins. Brush them with the marinade and then air fry for another 2 mins. Lastly brush them with 1.5 tbsps of unsalted butter or mustard oil.
The timings change if lesser skewer are placed. Reduce the total time to 5 mins for 3 to 4 skewers.
I have not used any food color. Adding oil to the marination helps to get a good color from turmeric and red chili powder. Use a good and enough quantity of chili powder to get a vibrant color.
Use thick curd or greek yogurt for the marinade. Avoid using runny curd with lots of whey in it. Runny curd will let out lot of moisture while grilling and the masala will come over to the tray or pan.
Gram flour is optional. However it adds a unique nutty aroma to the paneer tikkas. It is a secret ingredient used in some restaurants for that unique aroma.
Mustard oil is most commonly used to grill tikkas. If you do not have just replace with any cooking oil. But you will miss out that smoky & pungent flavor.
Veggies like onions and bell peppers are always used as they both impart a nice flavor to the paneer tikka. You may skip them if you do not have.
Use good quality paneer for those soft tikkas. Avoid those having corn starch added to them as they turn out rubbery and chewy. Sometimes I use this homemade paneer. So I do not soak it in warm water prior to using.
Paneer tikka recipe (restaurant style)
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 1½ tablespoon oil (preferably mustard oil)
- 1 to 1½ teaspoon red chilli powder (mild variety)
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 to 1½ teaspoon coriander powder (optional)
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon chaat masala (optional)
- 1 teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
- 1¼ teaspoon ginger garlic paste
- 6 tablespoons greek yogurt or thick hung curd (¼ cup + 2 tbsp) (refer notes)
- 200 grams paneer (cut to 9 cubes)
- 1 large onion – 10 to 12 cubes layers separated
- 1 red capsicum – 6 to 8 cubes
- 1 green capsicum – 6 to 8
- 1 tablespoon mustard oil or butter for brushing the tikkas (optional)
- 1 tablespoon gram flour (besan (optional))
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain (optional))
- Stir together thick yogurt (refer notes), chilli powder, garam masala, turmeric, coriander powder, kasuri methi, chaat masala, ginger garlic paste and salt.
- Optional for restaurant flavor – In a small pan, mix 1 tablespoon besan with the oil called for in the recipe (1½ tablespoons). Fry on a low heat until fragrant. Cool this and mix in the marinade along with ajwain.
- Pour oil and mix everything well. Check salt and spice. If needed add more salt and chilli.
- Add the cubed capsicum and onions. Mix well. Then add paneer cubes and gently coat them with the marinade.
- Cover and rest this in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours. Overnight marination may break the paneer.
- Begin to thread the chunks of capsicum, onion and paneer alternately on the skewer.
- If making in oven, you can use large bamboo skewers. If making on tawa, you can use small ones. You will be able to thread these on 3 large or 4 small skewers.
Making paneer tikka in oven.
- Preheat the oven at 450 F or 230 C for at least 15 mins.
- Prepare a baking tray and line a parchment paper.
- Place the skewers on the tray. Spray oil to avoid the paneer and veggies drying out.
- Grill them for 10 to 11 mins. Brush them with the leftover marinade. This will prevent them from turning dry.
- Move the tray to a higher rack and broil for 2 to 3 mins until slightly charred.
- Do adjust the grill timings based on your oven and the size of paneer cubes. Over cooking may char them too much. When they are golden or lightly charred, take them off the oven.
- Brush paneer tikka with butter or mustard oil. Serve them with mint chutney, onion and lemon wedges.
- Optional: For restaurant flavors, Place a small steel bowl in the serving plate. Burn a wood charcoal piece on direct fire until red hot. Keep it in the bowl. Pour ½ tsp ghee over it. It should begin to smoke immediately. Cover with a foil and let it smoke for 5 to 6 mins.
How to make paneer tikka on tawa or gas stove
- Heat a tawa with 1 tbsp oil and spread it evenly all over.
- When the tawa is hot enough, place the skewers and cook on a medium heat.
- Keep checking and turning them around to all sides for even grilling.
- When they turn golden, place a wired rack over a direct fire like gas stove. Place these skewers over the fire and grill on direct flame until char grilled. This step will ensure all of the marinade is cooked through on all the sides.
- Remove to a plate and brush them with butter. Serve paneer tikka hot as a appetizer or a side in your meal.
Air fryer method
- Air fry the paneer tikkas at 390 F or 200 C for 5 mins. Later brush them with some marinade and continue to air fry for another 2 mins.
- Lastly brush them with butter or mustard oil.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes