Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Butter Paneer Curry and Leftover Curry Naan Pizza

Okay...I lied. Turns out it's not such a Wordless Wednesday after all! =p You will forgive me, right? So today's dish consists of 2 Indian foods I've wanted to try at home for a very long time: butter paneer masala and naan flatbread! And the genius idea of combining them into a "pizza" of sorts is one I've wanted to test out ever since I sampled a similar appetizer at the fab D.C. restaurant Indique 3 years ago (yes threee!).

Butter Paneer Curry Pizza
There's no getting around it. Homemade paneer cheese and naan do require hours of waiting time (draining/pressing time for the 1st and dough relaxing time for the 2nd). But when you look at the hands on time for it all, it's really just no more than an hour for everything. There is one very real problem to this plan, though. Paneer curry is so well loved (at least around here) that there's little chance of finding naturally occurring "leftovers" to make into naan pizza. I offer these possible solutions: (1) do what I did and just use the fresh curry to make pizza or (2) double the curry recipe but don't let anyone else know you did lest they go rummaging.

If you like Indian food as much as we do, you'll definitely enjoy these. But even if you don't, homemade (or even store-bought) naan is a great shortcut when you don't have pizza dough on hand. Just replace the curry with cheese, veggies, pepperoni, or whatever else you like on your pizzzzza-pies. Happy eating! Lastly, just a reminder that I'm now on Twitter. Please stop by and say hi -- I'm still adjusting to this Brave New World ;p.

Manjula's Butter Paneer Curry [Printable Recipes]
Adapted from Manjula's Kitchen (she has a video tutorial)
Serves 2 to 4

XIAOLU'S NOTES: After a couple of comments about how time-intensive it'd be to make everything from scratch, I wanted to assure you that you don't have to go DIY crazy like me to make really yummy curry, naan, or naan pizza. I'm really just offering several ideas for you to play with and hopefully fit into your own cooking. Feel free to use store-bought paneer and naan. You could even just make naan pizza with traditional pizza toppings like tomato sauce, cheese, pepperoni, etc. As always I encourage you to play with your food!

1/2 lb. paneer (cubed) [I made my own following this tutorial]
Canola or vegetable oil to fry the cheese
2 ripe medium tomatoes
1 jalapeno or other green chili pepper
1/4-inch piece ginger
2 tsp canola or vegetable oil
Pinch of asafoetida (hing) [Fine to omit if you can't find this]
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric (haldi)
1/2 tsp red chili powder
2 bay leaves
1 tsp cornstarch
1 1/2 Tbsp heavy cream or half and half
1/2 cup yogurt, very well beaten with a fork or whisk
1/2 cup green peas (optional)
Scant 3/4 tsp salt, more or less to taste
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tsp sugar, if desired

In a pan, saute the paneer cubes (in batches if necessary) in oil that's about 1/4-inch deep until golden brown and crisp on all sides. Remove, letting the oil drain off from a slotted spatula or spoon as you do so, and set aside.

Using a handheld immersion blender, traditional blender, or food processor, puree the tomatoes, green chili pepper, and ginger.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add asafoetida and cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds have cracked (you'll hear it), add the tomato paste, tomato puree, coriander powder, turmeric, red chili powder, and bay leaves. Cook for about 4 minutes more. The tomato mixture will start to separate visibly from the oil and will reduce to about half its starting volume.

Dissolve the cornstarch in the heavy cream until smooth then add the mixture and the well-beaten yogurt to the gravy. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Next, add the green peas (if using) and fried paneer cubes. Let cook for a few minutes until the peas are tender. Finally, add the salt, garam masala, and cilantro. Taste the curry, adding a little sugar if the gravy is sour (add 1 to 2 pinches of baking soda if gravy is very sour) or salt if needed. Serve hot with basmati rice and/or Indian flatbread such as naan (see recipe below) or chapati.

Naan Flatbread
Slightly adapted from Indian Simmer
Makes 6 to 7 naan

NOTES: These are the ingredients for dough and then you can flavor your naan with all kinds of herbs, including cumin naan, garlic naan, butter naan and some topped with cilantro greens. So have fun with this!

2 cups all purpose flour or wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup warm milk
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil

Mix all the dry ingredients together and make a well of flour. Now mix milk and yogurt together. Pour half of yogurt mixture and the oil into the well and slowly combine. There isn't an exact amount of liquid that should be added to make a perfect dough. So just add liquid slowly and combine it all together slowly until a soft dough is made. The dough should be soft enough for you to be able to dig your finger into it without applying any pressure. If dough sticks to hand too much then use little bit of oil on hand and then punch into the dough. Cover with damp cloth and let it sit in a warm place for at least 2 hours.

After a few hours, dust your working board with flour, take out the dough and knead it about 2 to 3 minutes. Divide the dough into smaller balls (you should get about 6 or 7 balls to make naans). Flour the board again and flatten [I used a combination of rolling and pulling] the balls to make bread which is a little thick and elongated [about 7 to 8 inches long]. If desired, sprinkle one side of the bread with a flavor of your choosing (such as cumin, minced garlic, or chopped cilantro). Brush the other side with water.

Heat a thick bottom skillet or a wok or any heavy bottom pan with a lid. Once its nicely hot, place the naan wet side down which would stick and cover it with a lid. Let it cook for about 30 seconds or until you see bubbles on top. Now cook the other side of the naan over the direct flame of a burner with the help of tongs (be careful!). When you see some charred brown spots then you know that the naan is done. Spread some butter over the bubbly side and enjoy!

Curry Naan Pizza
Assembly adapted from Tasty Kitchen
Makes 4 small naan pizzas

1 1/2 cups Butter Paneer Curry [Leftover from above recipe]
4 Naan Flatbreads [Leftover from above recipe]
Grated mozzarella cheese (optional)
Fresh cilantro leaves, to garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brush one side of each naan bread with olive or vegetable oil, and place breads on a large baking sheet, oiled side down. Spread about 1/3 cup of paneer curry across each piece of naan, leaving at least a 1/4-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese, if desired. Bake naans for 6 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro leaves and dig in!


  1. Can I tell you how beyond cool it is that you made your own paneer?!?!? I need to check out that recipe. The whole meal looks amazing!

  2. I can eat it the curry alone without any naan! Yummy!

  3. who can say No to that curry .. we love paneer and we always have that in your fridge :) I never made paneer on naan like a pizza .. it looks amazing .. must try :)

  4. The naan with paneer looks really delicious though I have to admit I am not a big fan of paneer. I have grown up with tofu and still prefer that.. :)

  5. I just LOVE the photo and love, love the curry..

  6. Homemade paneer! I love it! This looks so wonderful and authentic. I can't remember the last time I had Indian food which is terrible considering my roommate is Indian but now I'm definitely craving!

  7. I have already told u how beautiful this looks!! Love the idea of the naan pizza. Really cool and easy to eat.

  8. Good job!!! Even in india we buy store bought paneer so you made a major accomplishment!!! Very impressive. How did the naan turn out?

  9. This looks amazing! Naan piizza - Yum! I can almost smell it. Sometimes slow-cooking foods are the best, all that anticipation!

  10. It looks gorgeous! I've tasted paneer once when I was studying in Sydney. It was grilled with tandoori spices, very yummy! I loved it, i'm going to try making my own paneer since it costs a bomb here. Thanks :)

  11. How delicious! I love this kind of food.

  12. I love words, particularly when they're discussing something as delicious as this :) I've never had naan oustide of a restaurant... you make it seem doable though!!

  13. MMM mmmm mmmm love both naan, and curry this is always wonderful combination and ur picture is just making me drool...

  14. Kudos for making your own paneer cheese and naan!

  15. Oh my word!! The time and patience you spent making this beautiful dish looks so worth the effort; amazing idea, it look super, super tasty!! Yay for naan pizza!!

  16. It looks amazing, and pictures again breathtaking ;)

  17. That is one fabulous meal! So flavorful and scrumptious.



  18. Xiaolu!!! I love this. My genius girl I'm sure this tasted great. I can't wait to put this idea on our dinner plates sometime soon. Love the pictures!

  19. Great change for the usual pizza we had. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Looks and sounds awesome. I haven't eaten butter chicken for a very long time and I miss it, thanks for the reminder:) Your butter dish has no butter and butter chicken has little butter. It was a bad idea to name it butter chicken, maybe it sounded attractive before.

  21. I've had butter chicken but not butter paneer but I know I'd love this and I love paneer! And I love how you've photographed it on a chair too! :D

  22. I love Manjula's recipes and her videos. She's such an authentic personality.
    That butter paneer curry you made looks amazing! And that naan... pizza material for sure. I love all kinds of flat breads but naan is one of my favorite (along with pita, I am Greek after all) :)

  23. OMG CURRY PIZZA! i love it! i made it with Japanese curry and it was so goooood! glad you made some too :)

  24. Thanks, everyone! Glad u like the idea, too!

    Three-Cookies - it is funny there's no butter, right? I did add a little cream so there is some to butterfat in the recipe.

    Grub - Oo definitely have to try Japanese curry nice. I like it just as much if not more than Indian curry. Did you use normal pizza dough?

  25. I love this idea! I've made Naan pizza before, but usually with the more typical pizza ingredients and flavors. I think this sounds fantastic.

  26. Sips and SpoonfulsMarch 31, 2011 at 8:02 AM

    What a novel idea...using naan as pizza dough...I'm goign to have to steal it!! And I'm in love with that chair....can I steal that too?

  27. Adore the rustic pan you used..nice props!!! I'm swooning over the dish, seriously. I cheat and buy the bread from the bakery... you are inspiring me to make it.. I get this pizza Nan at the pastry shop next door to my house but I never thought of making it before.... I can't wait to try this.

  28. What an absolutely amazing recipe, post and your image! From your image alone I can see the flavour and colour! I love it! The ingredients listed here are so delicious too. The whole thing is great

  29. Naan pizza - great idea! I'd love for you to submit this to the M&T Spotlight at

  30. delicious combination naan tastes better with this type of gravy yummy

  31. I love love love Indian food ! It must be a feat to make your own paneer.

    And gorgeous photos :)

  32. Oh my gosh...a perfect naan and paneer curry is just awesome. The curry is looking more authentic than even we make, so will surely follow ur tutorial next time.....just LOVED this platter !

  33. What an ambitious and adventurous dish! You photos are stunning as usual!

  34. Great recipe! I'm definitely going to follow your instructions and make a double recipe and hide the leftovers :)

  35. Do you deliver? LOL Now, this is the pizza I want showing up on my doorstep tonight. ;)

  36. WILL WORK FOR FOOD! Wow. This looks delicious! And as always so beautifully photographed.

  37. Thanks so much for your holy basil recommendation! Unfortunately the nursery didn't have any today, but I'll keep looking. Your paneer recipe and the pizza look so delicious {I shared it on my blog today :-)}. I would love to try making some gluten free naan to go with it!

  38. wow girl, that is A LOT of effort and looks amazing! good recipe for me to use all the spices i have but don't use often!

    haha im new to twitter too...and i keep forgetting that ive an account lol.

  39. I agree with Vivienne, it's a lot of effort! :) Is asafoetida optional? Trying to cut down on buying new spices just for specific recipes :P

  40. Thanks, everyone!

    Vivienne & Min - it did take some effort on my part but you can def take some shortcuts like buying paneer (though homemade is much tastier) or buying naan from the store. Yes, asafoetida is not absolutely essential. It does add something nice to the taste, but leave it out if you don't have it :).

  41. wow this looks so rustic and i bet taste's great.

  42. What a clever idea... Congrats on top 9!

  43. Fantastic looking, I would love to try this! Love the chair you used!

  44. (Forgive my error above!) Fantastic foodie photo, and I can't wait to try this recipe. Thank you so much for sharing it. :)

    Cook with joy!
    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  45. Hey that was a lovely dish you cooked!Looks so tasty that I could almost bite into it straightaway:)It looks 100% Indian!

    Congrats for making it to the Top 9!


  46. How cool that you made your own paneer! The pizza looks awesome!
    Congratulations for making it to the Top 9!

  47. Thanks, you all! I really didn't expect to make Top 9 with this one. Guess Foodbuzz can surprise ya sometimes =D. Have a fabulous weekend!

  48. This type of cooking is very foreign to me!! I love the idea of making my own paneer cheese and naan though, even if it is time consuming. Sounds like the perfect weekend mission :)
    Heidi xo

  49. wow! this looks incredible! I'm so impressed!

  50. You sold me with that gorgeous photo alone, and THEN I read the recipe... What a knock-out! I love curry of all sorts (who doesn't?) so this is one I feel must be made, asap. Plus, the pairing of naan makes the whole meal fool-proof, I can imagine serving this to anyone and having them love it. :)

  51. Love love the rustic look of this pizza! Although it'd take lots of time and efforts to make paneers, it's worth the effort. Homemade is the best.

  52. this is in my bookmarks under "MUST MAKE" :D

  53. LOVE this idea. Naan is so moist but I can imagine how perfectly crispy it gets in making it into a pizza. thanks for the awesome idea.

  54. Thanks everyone! So glad you're liking this idea =D

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  56. Oh my goodness Xiaolu!!! First of all - butter paneer??! Yum. Homemade pita?? Yum. And THEN you made it into a pizza. I wish you were making me dinner tonight! I'm definitely saving all these recipes, it looks seriously unforgettable. (Typo in your name! Deleting the other comment. ;) )

  57. when we talking about indian food is always mouth watering. this is one of the dish i always liked with butter nan.. i loved this..

  58. This picture is amazing, I guess this is why I found it on pinterest... Beautiful recipe!!!

  59. I was led here by Pinterest, and this is my new favorite butter paneer recipe (though I used canned tomato sauce and added chicken as well). Thank you!

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the feedback! You should definitely feel free to customize as you like =D


I love hearing from you all! Please leave me a message if you have questions, advice, or just to let me know you stopped by. Your feedback is always very much appreciated. Thanks! <3 Xiaolu