About this dish
This is without a doubt, our favourite paneer dish. Soft and succulent paneer pieces lathered in a silky, creamy and tangy curry is the absolute perfect combination under the sun. The creamy tomato-based curry that features in this dish is none other than the makhani gravy that you may have heard of in your local Indian restaurant. Makhani in Hindi means creamy while Shahi means royal. Some also refer to this kind of curry as butter masala. All implying that this is by no means a healthy dish or an everyday curry, but something special. That's why, at festivals and celebrations, shahi paneer is often at the table.
There are a few elements that elevate this dish and take it from being just another tomato sauce to the next level.
- Kasoori Methi - Although it only gets added at the end and there is only 1 tsp of it, Kasoori Methi is a key ingredient in this curry and really adds that "je ne sais quoi" to this curry and gives it that restaurant-style taste. So don't even think about skipping out on this one.
- Elaichi or Green Cardamom - Cardamom is the main spice that gives this curry it's distinct flavour and pairs extremely well with the tang creaminess of the curry and the richness of the Paneer.
At my parents home, we eat shahi paneer for Diwali and Karvachauth every year without fail. If someone is coming over for dinner, and North India food is on the menu, then shahi paneer will certainly be served. It's also a favourite among restaurant menus and pairs as beautifully with naan as it would be the humble homemade roti. Weddings, parties, pot-lucks, you name it and shahi paneer is always there.
Whether you call it paneer butter masala, paneer makhani or shahi paneer, give this dish a try. Once you get the hang of making this curry, you can make variations of this dish by adding vegetables instead of paneer. This curry also goes well with koftas or chicken.
- 250g paneer
- 100g or 1 medium red onion
- 250g or 4-5 tomatoes
- 15g or 4 cloves garlic
- 20g ginger
- 12g or 8 cashew nuts
- 2 green chillies
- 4 pods green cardamom
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp kashmiri red chilli powder
- 1/4 tsp + 1/4tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp kasoori methi
- 1/3 cup or 75ml heavy cream
- 15 sprigs coriander
- 1 tsp sugar
- to taste salt
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp ghee or butter
- Soak the cashew nuts in 60ml hot water.
- Add 1 tbsp oil to a pan. Add cumin seeds and let them splutter and flavour the oil. Then add green cardamom, sliced green chillies and roughly chopped garlic. Fry till aromatic.
- Then add the sliced onions, roughly chopped ginger and turmeric.
- When the onions are soft and translucent, add roughly chopped tomatoes and salt. Cook till the tomatoes are no longer juicy and reach a jammy consistency. The mixture should turn glossy and shiny and no longer appear watery.
- Let this masala mixture cool down and then blend the masala into a smooth paste along with the cashew nuts, reserve the soaking liquid for later.
- Add some ghee to the kadhai and add the masala paste back in and fry for a few seconds for extra flavour development.
- Add garam masala and kashmiri red chilli powder and ****fry for 30 seconds. If the paste starts sticking to the bottom of the pan, add the soaking liquid from the cashews.
- Once the spices are fragrant, add 1 cup of water to create a smooth and thick curry. You may have to add a little more water to reach the desired consistency. At this point, taste for seasoning. We like to add some sugar to balance the tartness of the fresh tomatoes.
- Then, add paneer cubes and simmer for 3-5 mins on low heat to warm them up. Carefully stir in the fresh heavy cream so that you don't break apart the paneer pieces.
- Turn off heat and then garnish with a sprinkle of garam masala, kasoori methi, freshly chopped coriander leaves and a swirl of cream.