Shahi Paneer can be Reffered to “royal cottage cheese.”
Paneer is a fresh cheese that is popular in Indian cuisine. 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.
Some Shahi Paneer recipe use tomatoes and butter. I have opted not to use these ingredients, instead using yogurt to lighten up the dish considerably.
The Shahi gravy is full of aromatic flavors including onion, ginger, garlic, red chilli powder, saffron and cardamom. Balanced out with thick, creamy yogurt, this lightened up version of Shahi Paneer is perfect for special occasions.
Tips to remember while making Shahi paneer.
- Rich version: A very rich version of Shahi Paneer recipe is made with adding butter and more cream. In this recipe, I have added less cream. Feel free to add more cream or use butter if you prefer.
- Tomatoes: I have not added tomatoes to this dish since I have used yogurt (curd). But you can substitute yogurt 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.
- Freshness: Since a major part of the gravy is made from nuts and yogurt, do make sure that these ingredients are fresh. The nuts and seeds should not be rancid and the curd (yogurt) must not be sour.
Step by step recipe For Shahi Paneer.
How to make Shahi Paneer
While the list of ingredients for 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. you can also try diffrent paneer recipes.
Preparation for making Shahi Paneer
1. Take the nuts and seeds – 2 tablespoons chopped cashews, 1 tablespoon almonds, 1 tablespoon melon seeds in a bowl and rinse them a couple of times with water. Drain all the water and set aside.
2. Simmer ½ cup chopped onions, cashews, almonds, melon seeds , ½ teaspoon ginger and ½ teaspoon garlic in 1.5 cups water for 8 to 10 minutes on medium-low heat.
3. Continue to cook until the onions become soft, then strain the stock and set aside for later use.
4. When cooled, place the softened onions, nuts, seeds, ginger, garlic in a blender or mixer jar. You can peel the almonds if you prefer.
5. Make a fine paste of the cooked onion mixture, adding 2 to 4 tablespoons of the strained water or as needed.
6. Beat ½ cup fresh curd (yogurt) till smooth and set aside.
7. Heat 3 tablespoons ghee in a pan over medium-low to medium heat. Let the ghee melt. You can even use oil or butter in place of ghee.
8. Fry all the whole spices until they release their aroma in the ghee. The whole spices are 1 tej patta (indian bay leaf), 2 to 3 cloves, 2 to 3 green cardamoms, 1 black cardamom, 1 inch cinnamon, ½ teaspoon caraway seeds (shah jeera).
9. Add the onion and nuts paste.
10. On a low to medium-low heat mix until the paste is uniform. Then sauté for 7 to 8 minutes or until the fat separates at the sides of the paste.
You will see that on further cooking the paste will thicken and become glossy. Keep stirring non-stop for even cooking. This will also prevent the paste getting burnt from the bottom.
11. Now add ½ teaspoon red chilli powder or cayenne pepper, ¼ teaspoon garam masala powder and 1 teaspoon coriander powder. You could even replace red chilli powder with ¼ teaspoon white or black pepper powder.
12. Stir to mix well.
Adding curd (yogurt) and simmering further
13. Reduce heat to a low or switch off the heat. Add the whisked yogurt, 1 to 1.5 cups of the strained stock and additional water, ½ to 1 teaspoon sugar and salt as required.
14. Stir well and simmer on a low heat for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the gravy thickens. You can always alter the consistency of gravy by adding less or more water.
15. Add ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder and crushed 15 to 20 saffron strands.
17. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves or mint leaves or some saffron strands and enjoy with rice or flatbread.