Shahi Paneer classic Indian dish that is a part of Mughlai cuisine, food that is rich and often incorporates nuts, dried fruits and warming spices, that is originated during Mughal rule. Paneer here, is the Indian cottage cheese, while Shahi means royal. This thick, creamy and spicy dish is a mainstay of Indian cuisine and is prepared by emulsifying tomatoes, onions, ground cashews, clarified butter and cream into a curry, adding paneer cubes and a variety of spices. Generally, it is eaten with traditional Indian flat-breads like roti or naan, rice and bread.
This popular north Indian cuisine has a creamy gravy of yoghurt and nuts with fresh, unmelting cheese.
Talking of Paneer in specific, it is made by curdling milk with a food acid (often lemon juice), then pressed into cubes. The most notable thing about paneer cheese is that it does not melt, providing a texture similar to tofu.
While the Shahi gravy is full of aromatic flavours including onion, ginger, garlic, red chilli powder, saffron and cardamom. Balanced out with thick, creamy yoghurt, this lightened up version of Shahi Paneer is perfect for special occasions.
There are several similar dishes like paneer butter masala, but with a subtle difference. While more whole spices are used in paneer butter masala, shahi paneer has a sweeter taste when compared to the former.
The rich creamy texture, complex flavours, use of spices, meal fragrances, and slow cooking sets, Mughlai dish apart from the rest. While the list of ingredients for the Shahi Paneer recipe is quite long, you don’t need to be intimidated. The process for making this dish isn’t particularly technical or difficult.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 pods cardamom
- 1-inch cinnamon
- 1 pod black cardamom
- 3 cloves
- 1 onion (sliced)
- 3 clove garlic
- 1-inch ginger (chopped)
- 2 tomato (chopped)
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp salt
For the curry:
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ½ teaspoon shahi jeera
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
- ¼ cup cream/malai
- 15 cubes paneer/cottage cheese
- few threads saffron / Kesar
- ½ teaspoon Kasuri methi (crushed)
- ¼ teaspoon garam masala
- 1. Firstly, in a Kadai heat 1 tbsp butter and saute 2 pods cardamom, 1-inch cinnamon,1 pod black cardamom and 3 cloves.
- 2. Time to add 1 onion, 3 cloves of garlic and 1-inch ginger.
- 3. Saute slightly until the onion softens.
- 4. Further, add 2 tomatoes and saute slightly.
- also, add 1 cup water and 1 tsp salt, and mix well.
- 5. Cover and boil for 20 minutes or until it soften completely.
- 6. Cool completely and transfer to a blender. blend to smooth paste without adding any water.
- 7. Sieve the puree making sure the puree is smooth and silky. keep aside.
- in a large Kadai heat 1 tbsp butter and saute ½ tsp shahi jeera and 1 bay leaf.
- 8. Keep flame on low add ¼ tsp turmeric and 1 tsp chilli powder.
- 9. Saute slightly until the spices turn aromatic.
- 10. Add in the prepared tomato-onion puree and mix well.
- 11. Further, add ¼ cup cream and mix until everything is well combined.
- 12. Add in 15 cubes of paneer, a few threads of saffron and mix well.
- 13. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until flavours are absorbed well.
- 14. Now add ½ tsp kasuri methi and ¼ tsp garam masala. mix well.
- 15. Add 1 teaspoon of kewra water and stir (optional step). kewra water is a fragrant essence similar to rose water that is extracted from the male flower of the screwpine. If you do not have access to kewra water, you can either omit it, substitute a drop of pandan extract, or use an equivalent amount of rose.
Garnish with fresh coriander leaves or mint leaves or some saffron strands and enjoy with rice or flatbread. You can serve it with roti, naan or paratha. You can also serve it with rice-based dishes like cumin rice, veg pulao or ghee rice.
- For making a Richer version of Shahi Paneer, add butter and more cream. Feel free to add more cream or use butter if you prefer.
- One can substitute yoghurt with tomato puree in the same proportions. If adding tomatoes, then do add 2 to 3 tablespoons cream as it balances the acidity and tanginess of the tomatoes.
- Make sure that, since a major part of the gravy is made from nuts and yoghurt, these ingredients are fresh. The nuts and seeds should not be rancid and the curd (yoghurt) must not be sour.
Time to enjoy the juicy flavorful delight!