Authentic Shahi Paneer Recipe
Shahi Paneer: A Taste of Indian Royalty
Shahi Paneer, also popular as Mughlai Paneer, is a delicious, aromatic gravy infused with soft paneer and royal spices. Picture this: Soft, pillowy chunks of paneer luxuriating in a creamy, dreamy gravy that sings with flavours. As a homage to the days of royalty, it is rich, indulgent and perfect for those evenings when you just want to indulge yourself or you have people you want to put a good show on, with very little work once you have done the initial planning. This guide will help you plan, chop, and make your Shahi Paneer recipe in under 35 minutes every time. It pairs divinely with Butter Naan, Basmati Rice, Jeera Rice, Roti, or Plain Paratha.
A Glimpse into Mughlai Culinary Heritage
Mughlai cuisine, a gift from the Mughal Empire, has graced the world with some of the most exquisite culinary creations. Shahi Paneer, in particular, stands out as a creamy concoction of textures, a mellow oasis in a world of fiery spices. While dishes like Kadai Paneer pack a punch, Shahi Paneer embraces subtlety.
Shahi Paneer translates to "Paneer for the Royalty." The name itself suggests that this dish is an embodiment of luxury. Prepared using ingredients that contribute to its richness, including yoghurt, cream, and an assortment of nuts and seeds.
In this guide, let's delve into the Shahi Paneer recipe restaurant style, which predominantly features onions as the primary vegetable. However, this article also provides instructions for incorporating tomatoes if you're inclined to do so. For a twist, add sweet vegetables like peas, carrots, or potatoes.
How to Make Shahi Paneer: Step-by-Step Guide
- 500 grams of Paneer (Indian cottage cheese)
- 2 tablespoons of Ghee (clarified butter)
- A handful of Cashews (around 10-15)
- A handful of Almonds (around 10-15)
- 2-3 Green cardamoms
- 2 medium-sized Onions
- 1 Green chilli (adjust to your spice preference)
- 2 medium-sized Tomatoes (optional)
- 1 teaspoon of Red chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon of Garam masala
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 cup of Curd or plain yoghurt
- A pinch of Saffron strands (optional for flavour and colour)
- A few drops of Kewra water
- 1/4 cup of cream
- Fresh mint leaves for garnish
Step 1: Preparation of Paneer
- Make the paneer soft by putting it in warm water for 15-20 minutes.
- Add oil or ghee and shallow fry the paneer pieces if you prefer.
- To soften the fried paneer cubes, just immerse them in hot water until you're ready to use them.
Step 2: Make the Onion-Nut Paste
- On medium heat in a pan or tawa, heat 1 tbsp ghee.
- Add a few almonds, cashews and green cardamoms. Sauté for 1-2 minutes. Be careful not to burn them.
- Toss in cubed onions and a slit green chilli. Sauté until the onions turn translucent. If you prefer more spice, add the green chilli now. If you want a tomato-based version, include one or two cubed tomatoes.
- Continue cooking until the onions become soft.
- Turn off the heating and let it cool. Transfer everything to a grinder jar.
- Blend this mixture with minimal water until a smooth, thick paste forms. Don't add too much water; aim for a thick, not runny paste. It should be entirely smooth, without any coarse bits of nuts.
Step 3: Cook the Shahi Paneer
- In the same pan, heat another tablespoon of oil or Ghee.
- Add cumin (jeera) or shahi jeera, cloves, and cinnamon. Sauté over low heat for about a minute until they release a fragrant aroma.
- After that, place ginger garlic paste and make it sauté till it removes the raw smell (around 1-2 minutes).
- Add onion-nut paste, red chilli powder, garam masala, and salt. Stir and simmer for 3–4 minutes until spices thicken and lose their raw fragrance.
- Beat yoghurt in a bowl until smooth and creamy. Gently add this to the pan of the mixture.
- Allow Shahi Paneer gravy to simmer until it thickens and starts to leave the sides of the pan.
- Add water and saffron strands if you're using them. Adjust the consistency with more water if needed.
- Continue cooking until the Shahi Paneer gravy thickens further or until it releases oil or Ghee on the surface. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt or spices if necessary. If you'd like heat, include a slit green chilli at this stage.
- When the gravy reaches the desired texture and consistency, add cubed paneer and cook on low heat for 1-2 minutes. If you're using fried paneer, avoid overcooking.
- Once done, turn off the heat. Drizzle a few drops of kewra water and add cream.
Stir well and transfer the Shahi Paneer to a serving bowl to prevent overcooking. You can garnish it with more cream and a sprinkle of crushed pepper for extra flavour. Fresh mint and coriander leaves make a delightful final touch. Enjoy your Shahi Paneer recipe restaurant style, a dish fit for royalty!
Pro Tips for Crafting Perfect Shahi Paneer
- When making the onion-nut paste, sautéing the ingredients rather than boiling them helps bring out the onions' natural sweetness, contributing to the dish's rich flavour.
- Opt for fresh, high-quality paneer to ensure the best texture and taste for your gravy.
- Add the spices generously, such as garam masala and whole spices, because that's where the flavour in this Shahi Paneer lies!
- There is a fine line when cooking paneer. You should not cook the paneer for more than 2 to 3 minutes. Overcooking paneer will make it very hard and rubbery in texture, so it is important to be cautious.
If you're a fan of Indian cuisine and ready to embark on a culinary journey fit for royalty, Shahi Paneer is an exceptional choice. This creamy, indulgent dish is a testament to Mughlai culinary heritage, and with the steps outlined above, you're well-equipped to recreate it in your kitchen. So why wait anymore? Gather your ingredients and don your chef's hat. It's time to treat yourself, your family, friends, colleagues or guests to the regal flavours of Shahi Paneer, a dish that has truly earned its place among Indian culinary royalty. Enjoy it!
You can work your way through by replacing Tofu with Paneer and Coconut yoghurt with curd.
Using whole milk dairy curd is always suggested, which would not allow your gravy to break.
You can serve with it most bread such as naan, chapati, or paratha. Or, you could serve it with veg pulao or plain rice.