//Shahi Paneer

Shahi Paneer

shahi paneer, shahi paneer recipeshahi paneer, shahi paneer recipe
Shahi PaneerShahi Paneer

This Shahi Paneer recipe is deliciously rich and creamy, making it one of the most popular recipes in Mughlai cuisine. Fresh, unmelting cheese is married with a creamy gravy, perfect for serving with naan or roti. “Shahi” means “royalty,” and I can promise this dish is fit for a King!

shahi paneer topped with some saffron strands served in a white bowl with a spoon inside the bowl on a white marble surfaceshahi paneer topped with some saffron strands served in a white bowl with a spoon inside the bowl on a white marble surface

If you are looking for a warming, comforting vegetarian dish to serve for supper, look no further. Shahi Paneer is one of my very favorite dishes and is sure to become one of yours, too.

What are you waiting for? This delicious dish that is fit for royalty can be on your table tonight. Go ahead and treat yourself! Now, more than ever, comfort foods are in order. This Shahi Paneer is sure to fill your bellies and warm your souls. Until next time, friends. I hope you remain safe, happy and well fed.

What is Shahi Paneer?

Shahi Paneer can literally be translated 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.

TIP: If you are a vegan, you can easily substitute tofu for the paneer.

Some Shahi Paneer recipes use tomatoes and butter. I have opted not to use these ingredients, instead using yogurt to lighten up the dish considerably. 

TIP: If you prefer a richer version, feel free to add more butter or cream to the recipe when notated.

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.

shahi paneer topped with some saffron strands and served in a white bowl on a white marble surfaceshahi paneer topped with some saffron strands and served in a white bowl on a white marble surface

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Shahi Paneer

While the list of ingredients for Shahi Paneer is quite long, you don’t need to be intimidated. The process for making this dish isn’t particularly technical or difficult.

Preparation

1. Take the nuts and seeds – 2 tablespoons cashews, 1 tablespoon almonds, 1 tablespoon melon seeds or magaz in a bowl and rinse them a couple of times with water. Drain all the water and set aside.

nuts and melon seeds rinsed in a bowlnuts and melon seeds rinsed in a bowl

2. Simmer ½ cup chopped onions, cashews, almonds, melon seeds or magaz, ½ teaspoon ginger and ½ teaspoon garlic in 1.5 cups water for 8 to 10 minutes on medium-low heat.

onions, nuts, seeds, garlic and ginger being simmered in wateronions, nuts, seeds, garlic and ginger being simmered in water

3. Continue to cook until the onions become soft, then strain the stock and set aside for later use.

softened onions, nuts, seeds etc being strainedsoftened onions, nuts, seeds etc being strained

4. When cooled, place the softened onions, nuts, seeds, ginger, garlic in a blender or mixer jar.

softened onions, nuts, seeds etc added in a blender jarsoftened onions, nuts, seeds etc added in a blender jar

5. Make a fine paste of the cooked onion mixture, adding 3 or 4 tablespoons of the strained water as needed.

blended to a smooth pureeblended to a smooth puree

6. Beat ½ cup fresh curd (yogurt) till smooth and set aside.

yogurt whisked till smoothyogurt whisked till smooth

Sautéing onion paste

7. Heat 2 to 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.

ghee being meltedghee being melted

8. Fry all the whole spices until they release their aroma in the oil. 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).

TIP: Be very attentive here, as spices are delicate and can burn quickly if you aren’t paying attention.

whole spices being friedwhole spices being fried

9. Add the onion and nuts paste.

ground paste addedground paste added

10. On a low to medium-low heat mix until the paste is uniform. Then sauté for for 5 to 6 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.

paste being sautéedpaste being sautéed

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.

spice powders addedspice powders added

12. Stir to mix well.

spice powders mixed with the pastespice powders mixed with the paste

Adding curd (yogurt) and simmering further

13. Reduce heat to a low or switch off the heat. Add the whisked yogurt, 1.5 cups of the strained stock and additional water, ½ to 1 teaspoon sugar and salt as required.

whisked curd and water addedwhisked curd and water added

14. Stir well and simmer on a low heat for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the gravy thickens slightly.

shahi gravy being simmeredshahi gravy being simmered

15. Add ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder and crushed 15 to 18 saffron strands.

cardamom powder and saffron strands addedcardamom powder and saffron strands added

16. Stir and add the paneer cubes (200 grams) and 1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream. Add 1 to 2 drops of kewra water and stir (optional step). If adding butter, you can add it here. Mix well and switch off the heat.

paneer cubes addedpaneer cubes added

17. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves or mint leaves or some saffron strands and enjoy with rice or flatbread.

shahi paneer topped with some saffron strands and served in a white bowl on a white marble surfaceshahi paneer topped with some saffron strands and served in a white bowl on a white marble surface

Tips

Tips

  1. Rich version: A very rich version of Shahi Paneer 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.
  2. 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 cream as both tomatoes and cream really go well with each other.
  3. 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.

FAQs

What is Mughlai cuisine?

From the 1400s to the 1800s, Mughals (“moo-galls”)  ruled India. The food that resulted from their rule was very rich, often incorporating nuts, dried fruits and warming spices. Some other dishes you might recognize that can be attributed to Mughlai (“moog-lie”)  rule are biryani, paratha, tandoor and pulao.

How should I serve Shahi Paneer?

You can serve it with roti, naan or paratha. You can also serve it with rice-based dish like cumin rice, veg pulao or ghee rice.

What is kewra water?

Also known as kevda, keora or kewda, 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 or orange blossom water.

What is magaz?

Magaz is a blend of pumpkin, watermelon, cantaloupe and cucumber seeds. It is an ingredient used in Indian cuisine and can be found in Indian grocery stores.

What if I don’t have access to magaz?

Don’t worry! If you don’t have access to melon seeds, you can add a total of 2 tablespoons almonds instead.

Can I make this dish without onions and garlic?

While you can make the dish without alliums, please note that the flavor of the gravy will change. You can substitute a pinch of hing (asafoetida) to the recipe to help mimic the flavors of both the garlic and onion.

Can I make this with low-fat yogurt?

I recommend that you only use whole milk dairy curd in this recipe. Using low-fat milk may cause the gravy to break.

Can I make this dish ahead?

While this dish will store in the refrigerator for a few days, it is best served fresh from the stove. I also don’t understand how someone could make this delightful dish and not want to eat it straight away!

Is it possible to make this vegan?

Yes! Vegans can substitute tofu for the paneer and cashew or coconut yogurt for the curd. I don’t advise using soy or peanut yogurt for this dish. If using cashew yogurt, then you don’t need to add cashews while making the paste. Alternatively, you can use tomato purée and coconut cream in place of the yogurt.

More Paneer Inspiration!

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This Shahi Paneer recipe is deliciously rich and creamy, making it one of the most popular recipes in Mughlai cuisine.

Prep Time 20 mins

Cook Time 20 mins

Total Time 40 mins


Cuisine Indian, Mughlai

Course: Main Course

Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian

Difficulty Level: Easy


Servings 4

Units

For cooking onions and nuts

Preparation

  • Boil onions, cashews, almonds, magaz, ginger and garlic in 1.5 cups water for 8 to 10 minutes till the onions become soft.

  • Strain the stock and set aside. Let the onions cool at room temperature.

  • Make a paste of the cooked onions, ginger, garlic along with the dry fruits adding 3 to 4 tablespoons of the strained water.

Sautéing onion paste

  • Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons ghee in a pan. 

  • Fry all the “whole spices” listed in the above ingredients till they release their aroma in the oil.

  • Add the ground onion paste and sauté until the fat starts to leave the sides of the paste.

  • Add the dry spice powders and stir.

  • Now add the whisked yogurt, stock+water, salt and sugar.

  • Stir well and simmer for 10-12 minutes or till the gravy thickens slightly on a low flame.

  • If using cream, then whisk the cream till smooth and keep aside.

  • Add the cardamom powder and crushed saffron.

  • Stir and add the cubed paneer. If adding cream, you can add the cream with the paneer.

  • Simmer for 1-2 minutes till the paneer is cooked.

  • Add the kewra (pandan) essence and stir. Addition of kewea is optional.

  • Garnish it with some coriander leaves and Serve the Mughlai Shahi Paneer with cumin rice or rotis, naan or phulkas.

  1. In this recipe, I have not used cream nor I have used butter or ghee. Feel free to use cream or butter if you want them.
  2. 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 as mentioned in the recipe and still make a delicious shahi paneer. If adding tomatoes, then do add cream as both tomatoes and cream really go well with each other.
  3. Vegans can make the same recipe with tofu and cashew yogurt. I won’t advise using soy or peanut yogurt for this dish as these will ruin the taste. If using cashew yogurt then you don’t need to add cashews while making the paste.

Calories: 331kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 11gFat: 28gSaturated Fat: 15gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 69mgSodium: 46mgPotassium: 204mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 294IUVitamin B1 (Thiamine): 1mgVitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 1mgVitamin B3 (Niacin): 1mgVitamin B6: 1mgVitamin B12: 1µgVitamin C: 5mgVitamin D: 1µgVitamin E: 1mgVitamin K: 3µgCalcium: 304mgVitamin B9 (Folate): 12µgIron: 1mgMagnesium: 40mgPhosphorus: 93mgZinc: 1mg

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This recipe post from the archives (January 2013) has been republished and updated on 10 October 2020.