Grilled Paneer
Posted in Serious Eats
July 21, 2022

Grilled Paneer

Cropped view of grilled paneer and chickpea salad on a blue plate
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Paneer can be prepared a number of ways: simmering in a stew, fried until crispy, or grilled like a kebab. I turn to the last method for this recipe, pairing grilled paneer with a mixed green salad for a light but satisfying summer meal.

Much like halloumi, paneer is a cheese that doesn’t melt, which makes it perfect for putting on the grill. However, unlike a lot of other cheese, paneer is unsalted and has a relatively mild flavor. It’s quite similar to tofu in that it’s an excellent, protein-rich vehicle for other flavors. As a result, if you’re going to put it on the grill, it’s best to turn to a very flavorful marinade.

For the marinade, I chose to use full-fat yogurt, which I mix with salt, toasted and ground cumin, sweet paprika, some turmeric for color, a little cayenne pepper for a slight hint of heat, as well as some grated ginger. The full-fat yogurt, aside from being quite flavorful, both helps prevent the paneer from sticking to the grill grates and takes on a little char as the paneer cooks, enhancing its smoky flavor.

Overhead view of grilled paneer and chickpea salad on a blue plate on a grey marbled backdrop
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Sticking is a real problem with grilled paneer since it is composed almost entirely of protein, which sticks to metal surfaces during cooking. To further ensure that the paneer doesn’t stick, I add some oil to the marinade, preheat and oil the grilling grates thoroughly, and once the paneer goes on the grill I don’t touch it at all until it takes on a little char. You can use a grill pan or an outdoor grill; for outdoor grills, I’ll thread the paneer on skewers so I can flip them more easily. You can also cook the paneer in oil on the stovetop, or under a broiler, both of which will result in far less sticking.

Even though paneer doesn’t melt, it is best served warm, when it’s still tender and soft. If it cools off too much before serving, it becomes a little tough. If for whatever reason you have to let your cooked paneer sit for a while, sprinkle a few drops of water over it and stick it in the microwave in a covered bowl for a minute or two; alternatively, you can sprinkle it with water and heat it in a covered skillet on the stovetop.

Served with a simple salad of mixed greens, hearty chickpeas, crunchy and juicy cucumbers, and fresh herbs, this is a dish that’s perfect for a quick and easy light lunch or dinner.

For the Paneer: In a large mixing bowl, whisk the yogurt, garlic, ginger, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cayenne, and salt until smooth. Fold in the paneer pieces, cover the bowl with a lid or cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour, maximum overnight.

Four Image Collage. Clockwise from top left: Paneer cut into cubes on a cutting board; unmixed marinade in a metal bowl; paneer placed on top of mixed marinade; Paneer folded into marinade
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

When ready to cook, brush the grates of a grill pan with oil. Line a plate or tray with absorbent paper towels or a wire rack. Heat the pan over medium-high heat, grill the marinated paneer pieces in batches. Don’t be hasty to remove the paneer, wait until the edges start to brown the paneer releases from the pan with ease, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the cooked paneer pieces to serving platter and keep warm.

Two Image Collage. Top Image: Marinaded Paneer on grilled, seen from side angle. Bottom: Grilled paneer on grill, showing off grill marks
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

For the Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk the oil, lime juice, honey, allspice, paprika, and red pepper flakes until combined.

Two Image Collage: Top: Ingredients for the dressing, neatly organized. Bottom: Whisking oil into the dressing in a glass bowl.
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

For the Salad: Place the mixed greens, cucumber, chickpeas, mint, and cilantro in a large mixing bowl. Lightly season the salad with salt and toss to combine. Pour the dressing over the mixed greens in the bowl, and toss to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. Serve alongside grilled paneer, with wedges of lime alongside.

Two Image Collage. Top: Mixed salad with chickpeas and cucumbers in a metal bowl. Bottom: Plated grilled panner and salad on a blue plate surrounding by the serving bow of salad and a platter of grilled paneer
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez


If using spicy hot red pepper flake, reduce the quantity by half.

Nik Sharma July 21, 2022 at 10:52PM

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