That Spicy Chick

Paneer Bhurji Gravy

This Paneer Bhurji Gravy is a vegetarian scrambled Indian cottage cheese (paneer) dish with a beautifully spiced tomato and onion gravy. It’s easy to make, ready in under 30 minutes, and can be enjoyed for lunch or dinner with Indian flatbreads, soft bread rolls, or steamed rice.

Calling all my paneer (Indian cottage cheese) lovers! I have a super easy, super quick, and SUPER yummy paneer bhurji with a luscious and beautifully spiced gravy to share with you today! 😍

What is paneer bhurji?

It’s a North Indian scrambled cottage cheese (either grated or crumbled) dish that’s made with sautéed aromatics and veggies like garlic, ginger, chilies, onion, tomatoes, and warm spices. <– That’s known as the dry version. However, there’s also a “wet”, or rather, a gravy version which is made in a similar way with the same ingredients but with the addition of water and either milk or cream.

I’m sharing my recipe for a paneer bhurji gravy version today, which is vegetarian and naturally gluten-free. It is a ridiculously easy to make dish that you can enjoy with your favorite Indian flatbreads (roti, chapati, naan, paratha, etc.), soft bread rolls, or steamed rice for lunch or dinner!

Scrambled Indian cottage cheese dish in a black wok.

Why This Recipe Works

  • It’s quick and easy to make in one pan on any given weeknight and ready in under 30 minutes!
  • Grating the paneer as opposed to crumbling it allows it to stay soft and tender and yields the best texture.
  • Adding besan (gram flour) gives the gravy an unparalleled rich and creamy texture and a slight hint of nuttiness.
  • It’s lightened-up by using milk instead of cream for the gravy, but is still wonderfully creamy and delicious!

Ingredients

Labeled ingredients for Paneer Bhurji Gravy on a wooden board.
  • Fresh red and green chilies: I used fresh red Bird’s Eye chilies and small hot Indian green chilies. Any small hot red and green chilies will work though. Adjust the quantity you use based on your heat level preference.
  • Paneer: This is a type of Indian cottage cheese that is available in the form of blocks, slabs, and cubes and can be purchased either fresh or frozen. You can find it in the fridge or freezer section of Indian grocery stores and some large well-stocked supermarkets. I used the block form for this recipe and thawed it by setting it on the counter for 1-2 hours. You can also thaw the paneer overnight in the fridge if using frozen. Many recipes indicate that you can either grate the paneer using a box grater or crumble it by hand or using a fork. I prefer and recommend grating the paneer as the texture is more tender once cooked with the gravy. It also isn’t as prone to hardening and becoming rubbery like crumbled paneer.
  • Gram flour: This is also known as besan, chickpea flour, and garbanzo bean flour. This gives the gravy more body and helps to thicken it, and also imparts a delicious subtle nutty flavor. Look for it in an Indian grocery store or in the baking aisle of a large well-stocked supermarket.
  • Ground Cayenne: This will spice up the dish so use according to taste. Alternatively, you can use Kashmiri red chili powder, which is a mild chili powder and traditionally used in Indian cooking.
  • Garam Masala: An Indian spice blend that’s made with a variety of warm spices. While using store-bought is fine, I highly recommend using homemade garam masala as the flavors are so much better! It’s quick and easy to whip up and will last for months in your pantry. Check out my other Indian recipes that you can use this spice blend in!

Full ingredient list and amounts are in the recipe card below.

How to Make Paneer Bhurji Gravy (step by step with pictures)

1. Make the aromatics paste. Smash the garlic, ginger, and red and green chilies in a mortar and pestle into a smooth paste. (Note: If you don’t own a mortar and pestle, you can pulse these ingredients into a paste in a small blender or just mince them instead.) Grate the paneer block using a box grater.

Smashed garlic, ginger, and chilies in a mortar. Grated paneer in a bowl.

2. Sauté onion and aromatics. Use a large wok or deep nonstick skillet, and sauté the red onion until translucent. Then add the smashed garlic, ginger, and chilies paste and sauté until fragrant.

3. Add spices & seasonings. Stir in all of the spices and seasonings and gram flour until combined well. Cook for a minute to get rid of the raw gram flour taste.

4. Add tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes, pressing on them with the back of your spatula to help break them down.

5. Pour in water. Stir frequently for another few minutes until the mixture has thickened. Taste and add sugar if needed.

Cooking paneer bhurji gravy in a wok steps.

6. Stir in the grated paneer and milk until combined well.

7. Stir through the chopped coriander and lemon juice. Then switch off the heat.

Added grated Indian cottage cheese to tomato gravy in wok and stirred through coriander.

8. Serve! Transfer to a serving dish/bowl and garnish with more chopped coriander if desired. Enjoy with warm cooked parathas, chapatis, roti, soft bread rolls (bun breads called ‘pav’), and/or steamed rice. You can also serve with extra lemon wedges for squeezing and chopped red onion for an extra flavor punch!

Top view of bowl with paneer bhurji on a plate with rice, chopped onion, and paratha.

Full detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.

Cook’s Tips

  • Grate the paneer instead of crumble. The texture is more tender when grated than crumbled once cooked.
  • Don’t cook the paneer too long. Two to three minutes is ample time for it to cook in the sauce. Any longer and it will become hard and rubbery.
  • Use single or heavy cream in place of milk for a richer flavor.

FAQs

Why paneer becomes hard?

Paneer becomes hard when it has been cooked and exposed to heat for too long. The exposure to heat through cooking causes loss of water and it to dry up. It is a delicate type of Indian cottage cheese, and only needs to be cooked for a short period. Some people like to soak paneer in water for a few minutes to give it extra moisture so that the water lost during cooking doesn’t affect the texture too much.

Are paneer and halloumi the same?

Paneer and halloumi are not the same. Paneer is made from curdling milk and an acid such as lemon juice, vinegar, citric acid, or yogurt. It is a mild flavored cheese that is not very salty. Halloumi on the other hand is a natural cheese formed from a mixture of goat and sheep’s milk. It hardly has any acid in it at all, but is a lot saltier in flavor than paneer. Paneer has a delicate and soft texture which makes it crumble easily. Contrastingly, halloumi is meaty and chewy in texture and doesn’t crumble easily. Both the high acid in paneer and low acid in halloumi prevent these types of cheese from melting.

Can I make this a vegan paneer bhurji?

You can make a vegan paneer bhurji by using a crumbled block of firm tofu and replacing the whole milk with a dairy-free milk such as almond or coconut milk. Note that the flavor will be different with the addition of coconut milk, but it will still taste delicious!

Panner in bowl and in wok. Text overlay "Paneer Bhurji Gravy", "Indian Scrambled Cottage Cheese", and "thatspicychick.com".

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Closeup front view of paneer bhurji in a blue dish.

Paneer Bhurji Gravy

Paneer Bhurji Gravy is a vegetarian and gluten-free scrambled Indian cottage cheese (paneer) dish with a beautifully spiced tomato and onion gravy. It’s easy to make, ready in under 30 minutes, and can be enjoyed for lunch or dinner with Indian flatbreads, bread rolls, or steamed rice.

  • Author: Lavina
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 11
  • Total Time: 21 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Sauté
  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Diet: Gluten Free
Scale

Ingredients

  • 5 Garlic cloves – peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1-inch piece Ginger – peeled and roughly chopped
  • 28 fresh Red Chilies (I used Bird’s Eye, but any small hot red chilies will work), to taste – roughly chopped
  • 12 fresh Green Chilies (I used Indian small hot green chilies, but any variety will work), to taste – roughly chopped
  • ½ medium Red Onion – finely chopped
  • 2 medium Garden Tomatoes – finely chopped
  • 1.5 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander Powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground Cumin
  • ½ teaspoon Turmeric Powder
  • ¾ teaspoon Garam Masala (homemade preferred, but store-bought it fine to use)
  • ½1 teaspoon ground Cayenne (or 1 TSP Kashmiri red chili powder), to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Gram Flour (besan/chickpea flour)
  • 1 tablespoon Unsalted Butter
  • 1 tablespoon Canola Oil (or vegetable oil)
  • ½ cup Water
  • ¼ teaspoon White Sugar (optional), to taste
  • 200 grams / 14 ounces Paneer (block/slab or cubes) – thawed if using frozen, grated
  • ¼ cup Whole Milk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Coriander (Cilantro) – chopped
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
  • To Serve (optional): More chopped coriander for garnish, warm cooked parathas, chapatis, roti, soft bread rolls (‘pav’), steamed rice, lemon wedges for squeezing, finely chopped red onion

Instructions

  1. Prepare the fresh ingredients: Roughly chop the garlic, ginger, and red and green chilies. Using a mortar and pestle, pound into a smooth paste and set aside. (Note: If you don’t own a mortar and pestle, you can pulse these ingredients into a paste in a small blender or just mince them instead.) Finely chop the red onion and tomatoes, and grate the paneer using a box grater. Set aside. Combine all the spices and seasonings – the kosher salt, coriander powder, ground cumin, turmeric powder, garam masala, ground cayenne – and gram flour in a small bowl. Cover and set aside.
  2. Sauté onion and aromatics: Heat 1 tablespoon each of unsalted butter and canola oil in a large wok or deep nonstick skillet/frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted and is frothing and the oil is hot, add the red onion and sauté for 1-2 minutes until translucent. Add the smashed garlic, ginger, and chilies paste and sauté for another minute until fragrant.
  3. Add spices & seasonings: Add all of the spices and seasonings and gram flour. Stir well to combine and cook for a minute to get rid of the raw gram flour taste.
  4. Build the gravy: Add the tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently and pressing down on them with the back of your spatula to help break them down. Then stir in ½ cup of water and cook, stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture has thickened. Taste and add ¼ TSP white sugar if desired (or leave it out if you feel it’s not needed) and stir to combine.
  5. Stir in the panner and milk: Stir in the grated paneer and whole milk until combined well with the gravy. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Stir through coriander and lemon juice. Stir through the chopped coriander and lemon juice, then switch off the heat.
  7. To Serve: Transfer to a serving dish/bowl and garnish with more chopped coriander if desired. Serve immediately with warm cooked parathas, chapatis, roti, bread rolls, and/or steamed rice. You can also serve it with lemon wedges for squeezing and chopped red onion for an extra punch of flavor.

Notes

  1. Paneer. This is an Indian cottage cheese and is available in block, slab, or cubes form and either fresh or frozen. You can find it in the fridge or freezer section of Indian grocery stores and some large well-stocked supermarkets. If using frozen, thaw either by setting the package on the counter for 1-2 hours or overnight in the fridge.
  2. Gram flour. This is also known as besan, chickpea flour, and garbanzo bean flour. It gives the gravy more body and helps thicken it. Look for it in an Indian grocery store or the baking aisle of a large well-stocked supermarket.
  3. Fresh red and green chilies: Adjust quantity to taste based on your heat level preference.
  4. Ground cayenne vs. Kashmiri chili powder. Ground cayenne will add heat to the dish so adjust to taste. Kashmiri red chili powder is a mild chili powder and will help give color to the dish without making it too spicy.
  5. Leftovers and storage: Store leftovers in a sealed airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat, cover the container lightly with a kitchen towel and heat in the microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring once in between, until hot throughout. Be careful not to overheat as paneer tends to harden when exposed to heat for too long.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 serving
  • Calories: 190
  • Sugar: 5.9g
  • Sodium: 483.2mg
  • Fat: 13.1g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.4g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 4.7g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 11.8g
  • Fiber: 2.2g
  • Protein: 7.6g
  • Cholesterol: 9.2mg

The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.

This post may contain affiliate links. We are a part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.

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