Paneer also referred to as Indian cottage cheese is an important source of proteins for vegetarians. The reason Indian cuisine has a variety of dishes made with this milk product. There are different ways you can use paneer in cooking, like make koftas of it, use it cubed or diced in curries and also crumble it to make a lovely Paneer Bhurji. Hence, Paneer Bhurji Recipe is basically spiced scrambled paneer. This recipe is a Punjabi style of making this popular and delicious North Indian dish, just the way it is made in my home.
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What is Paneer Bhurji
In Hindi, the word ‘Bhurji’ literally translates to ‘Scrambled.’ So technically, Paneer Bhurji is basically scrambled paneer or cottage cheese cooked with some more ingredients.
In this quick and simple vegetarian recipe, crumbled homemade paneer is cooked with a mixture of onions, tomatoes, ginger-garlic paste, green chilies and some spices into a savory, tangy and satisfying dish.
You can actually take it as the vegetarian version of the Indian style scrambled eggs which is popularly known as egg bhurji or anda bhurji in Hindi language. The flavorful Paneer Bhurji Recipe, as like other bhurji recipes, is quick to make and an ideal breakfast dish too.
What’s best is that you can even make a vegan version of the Paneer Bhurji by substituting the cottage cheese (paneer) with tofu. However, make sure to not use silken tofu or soft tofu for the same. To make it easier for you, refer to this recipe of Tofu Bhurji.
In addition to the Paneer Bhurji Recipe, the anda or egg bhurji is also a classic dish served in most of the dhabas or road side eateries in the whole of North India.
While in Punjabi households, even the Mooli Bhurji is quite common, which is made with grated of finely chopped tender white radish of the winter season.
Paneer Bhurji Essentials
Here’s a list of all that you essentially need for a tasty, delicious Paneer Bhurji Recipe:
- Firm paneer (cottage cheese): It is a no brainer that you would obviously require paneer for this bhurji recipe, as it is the main ingredient here. Paneer is fresh cheese which is made by curdling the milk with an acidic ingredient like lemon juice or vinegar. Whenever I make any dish that uses paneer, I prefer to use homemade rather than store-bought paneer, as it is tastier and fresher.
- Homemade paneer: Making paneer from scratch may sound intimidating at first, but once you try it, it is quite easy and tastes so good. Simply follow the step-by-step instructions on How To Make Paneer and you will have a fresh block of homemade paneer within half an hour.
- Onions and tomatoes: Both onions and tomatoes are unanimously added in many Indian dishes. For the onions, you can use red onions, yellow onions or white onions. For tomatoes, use the ones which are ripe, red and not too tart or sour.
- Ginger-garlic paste: A paste of ginger and garlic is also used in this recipe. To make this paste you simply use a mortar and pestle to crush together the fresh ginger and garlic. Although a freshly made paste is always better, a readymade ginger-garlic paste also can be used.
- Spices: These are the usual Indian ground spices like red chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and garam masala powder. Most of these are easily available outside India too, in Asian grocery stores and even online. For the garam masala, I always use the homemade one in all my recipes. To make a fragrant and flavorful garam masala powder at home, refer to this recipe of homemade Garam Masala.
How to make Paneer Bhurji
Prep Paneer and Make Onion Tomato Masala
1. Crumble 200 to 250 grams paneer with your fingers and keep aside. I have used homemade paneer.
2. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a frying pan or kadai (wok) or a sauté pan or frying pan. You can even use ghee or butter, instead of oil.
Add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds and let them crackle on low to medium-low heat.
3. Then, add ½ cup finely chopped onions.
4. Sauté the onions on medium-low heat till translucent and soft.
5. Next, add 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste and 1 or 2 chopped green chilies (about ½ to 1 teaspoon, chopped).
6. Mix very well and sauté for some seconds till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away.
7. Add 1 cup tightly packed finely chopped tomatoes.
8. Mix the tomatoes and begin to sauté on medium-low heat.
9. Sauté the tomatoes till completely soft. You can also add a pinch of salt, so that the tomatoes cook faster.
You will see oil releasing from the sides of the mixture, once the tomatoes are softened.
10. Now add all the ground spice powders:
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
- ½ teaspoon red chilli powder (or ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper)
- ½ teaspoon coriander powder (ground coriander)
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
11. Mix very well and sauté for 5 to 6 seconds on low to medium-low heat.
Make Paneer Bhurji
12. Add the crumbled paneer and salt as per taste.
13. Mix thoroughly and cook for 1 minute. Don’t cook the paneer for a long time, as it hardens and looses its softness.
14. Turn off the heat and add 3 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves. Mix very well.
14. Serve Paneer Bhurji hot with roti, chapati, phulka, paratha, pav (dinner rolls) or bread, with a side of thinly sliced onions and lemon wedges.
Squeeze lemon juice on the bhurji before eating. You can also serve it with toasted bread.
Prepare the Paneer Bhurji Recipe and relish it hot with any Indian flatbreads like roti, chapati, phulka or paratha. You can even serve it with pav (dinner rolls) or bread.
When serving the bhurji with Indian flatbreads, make sure to accompany it with a side of thinly sliced onions and lemon wedges.
Squeeze some lemon juice on the bhurji, before eating. This bhurji tastes fabulous with any other North Indian main as well.
Sometimes, I also toast bread slices and top them with this lovely bhurji. You can even make sandwiches with this cottage cheese bhurji.
- Paneer or cottage cheese: For best results, used homemade paneer. For packaged or frozen paneer, follow the instructions mentioned on the pack before using. Also, make sure to not cook the paneer for a long time, as it will harden and become chewy in texture.
- Fat: For the fat, you can use oil, butter or ghee. Remember that the kind of fat used modifies the flavors of this dish.
- Tomatoes: The tangy taste in this bhurji recipe comes from the tomatoes. Thus, try to use tomatoes which are ripe, red and with a sweet-tangy taste. Avoid adding tomatoes which are too tart or sour or are unripe.
- Spices: You can decrease or increase the amount of green chillies, red chili powder or cayenne pepper, as per your preferences. Do not add more garam masala powder than what is mentioned in the recipe. If the garam masala is very intense and strongly fragrant, then just add ¼ teaspoon of it.
- Herbs: Always use fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) for this recipe. You can use fresh mint leaves too. Just add 1 to 2 tablespoons of chopped mint leaves, if using it.
- Vegan option: Use firm tofu, in place of paneer. Do not use silken or soft tofu.
Please be sure to rate the recipe in the recipe card or leave a comment below if you have made it. For more vegetarian inspirations, Sign Up for my emails or follow me on Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.
Paneer Bhurji Recipe (Punjabi Style)
- 3 tablespoons oil or ghee, butter or white butter
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ cup onions – (finely chopped) or 1 medium sized
- 3 to 4 small garlic cloves + 1 inch ginger – peeled, made to a paste in mortar-pestle or 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
- 1 or 2 green chillies – finely chopped or slit, or about ½ to 1 teaspoon, chopped
- 1 cup tomatoes (tightly packed, finely chopped) or 2 medium sized to large tomatoes
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
- ½ teaspoon red chilli powder or ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon Coriander Powder (ground coriander)
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon Garam Masala
- 200 to 250 grams Paneer (Indian cottage cheese)
- salt as required
- 3 tablespoons coriander leaves – chopped, (cilantro)
- Crumble the paneer and set aside. You do not need to make a fine crumble. A coarse crumble with some chunks of paneer is fine.
- Finely chop the onions, tomatoes and green chillies. Keep aside.
- Crush the ginger and garlic to a paste in a mortar pestle and keep aside.
- Also remove the spice powders and keep aside.
Making Paneer Bhurji
- Heat oil or ghee or butter in a pan. Let the oil become hot on a medium-low or medium flame.
- Add cumin seeds. Let them crackle and change color. Once they get browned, add onions.
- Mix well and sauté the onions. When the onions become translucent, add ginger-garlic paste and chopped green chilies.
- Sauté for some seconds till the raw aroma of the ginger-garlic goes away.
- Then add tomatoes and sauté on medium-low heat till they become soft. You can add a pinch of salt so that the tomatoes get cooked faster.
- Now add all the dry spice powders – turmeric, red chili powder, coriander powder and garam masala powder.
- Mix the spice powders very well and sauté for 5 to 6 seconds on low to medium-low heat.
- Then, add the crumbled paneer. Mix throughly and cook for 1 minute on low heat.
- Don’t cook the paneer for a long time as they harden and loose their softness.
- Lastly add the chopped coriander leaves and mix.
- Serve Paneer Bhurji hot with bread toast. You can also serve it with roti, plain paratha or as a stuffing in burrito or wraps.
- Paneer: For best results used homemade paneer. If using packaged paneer or frozen paneer, then follow the instructions mentioned on the pack before using.
- Tomatoes: The tangy taste in paneer bhurji comes from the tomatoes. So do use tomatoes which are ripe and with a sweet-tangy taste. Avoid adding tomatoes which are too sour.
- Spicing: You can reduce or increase the amount of green chillies, red chilli powder or cayenne pepper as per your preferences. Do not add more garam masala than what is mentioned in the recipe. If the garam masala is very strong, then just add ¼ teaspoon of it.
- Herbs: Always fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) are added in the dish. But you can use fresh mint leaves too. Just add 1 to 2 tablespoons of chopped mint leaves.
- Fat: For the fat you can use oil or butter or ghee. Note that the type of fat used does change the taste of the dish.
- Vegan Option: Use firm tofu in place of paneer. Do not use silken tofu or soft tofu.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This Paneer Bhurji recipe from the archives first published in June 2013 has been updated and republished on May 2023.