This vegetarian and gluten free curry is straight from Mughal kitchens expect there is no meat here. Shahi paneer is a popuar vegetarian version of meat based shahi dishes full of onions, nuts, cream and saffron.
Rich Shahi Paneer Curry
Shahi paneer recipe, a rich and royal curry with hearty chunks of paneer in a delicately flavored yogurt and cashew based curry. It is a curry for royals 🙂 No I am not making it up, shahi means royal 🙂
So what would a curry that is named shahi would contain? Basically all ingredients that were considered rich and fit for kings in the ancient days.
This shahi paneer recipe is from mughal cuisine which is famous for its generous use for nuts, cashews, yogurt, saffron etc.
A luscious thick, creamy curry that is flavored with heady saffron simmered with chunks of melt in mouth paneer, isn’t the best? Yes, paneer shahi curry is the best.
This shahi paneer is in many ways different from the regular Indian paneer curries. For starters, there is no tomato here. At least authentic version does not feature tomato.
What makes this dish so special? More details in the notes section as you read.
If you are interested in a paneer curry that is different from the usual ones with a unique taste, this paneer shahi is for you.
It does take some time to make restaurant style shahi paneer, there is some prep time involved. The total time for this recipe is around 50-60 minutes, but totally worth it.
If you are planning a menu fro party, this restaurant style shahi paneer recipe would be a great fit.
This Shahi Paneer Is
rich, delicate and luscious
flavored with saffron & kewra
so tasty and creamy
goes well with naan bread
vegetarian and gluten free.
Difference Between Shahi Paneer, Kadai Paneer, Butter Paneer Recipes?
Before getting into the differences, let us just agree all these curries are delicious, right? If you are like me you know there cannot be a paneer curry that is not delicious 🙂
Having said that shahi paneer, kadai paneer and paneer butter are different and unique recipes. Most of the ingredients may be same, but they are different by how they are cooked and flavored.
Kadai paneer– This curry is know for its spicy taste and robust flavor. Prepared with a special spice blend called kadai masala, this is semi dry dish with chunks of paneer, capsicum and onions.
Paneer butter masala– Butter paneer is the most popular paneer curry in India as well as across the globe. This is a creamy rich and smooth curry where soft paneer are simmered in a flavorful onion tomato gravy. It is very mildly spiced with a signature sweet taste.
Ingredients like yogurt, kewra or saffron is not used in this recipe.
Shahi paneer– This paneer curry is very different from the above mentioned ones. In shahi paneer curry we use all rich ingredients like cashews, almonds, saffron and sometimes even raisins are added
The base of this gravy is yogurt and onions. Tomatoes are not added in this recipe. Sure you can find many recipes with tomatoes but adding tomatoes will just make this yet another curry. To get the real taste and flavor of shahi paneer, add yogurt and skip tomatoes.
Another difference is flavoring. In shahi paneer recipe, kewra water is used to flavor. It lends a very unique flavor and it is used especially in restaurant shahi paneer curry.
Is Shahi Paneer Vegetarian & How To Make It Vegan?
Yes shahi paneer is gluten free and vegetarian. Paneer is used instead of meat making it a vegetarian curry. If you want to make vean version of the curry here are the substitutes. Use
Pressed extra firm tofu cubes instead of paneer
Oil instead of butter
Cashew yogurt instead of dairy yogurt
Non dairy cream
Tips To Make Shahi Paneer
Yogurt- Curd or yogurt is the base of this curry so use real fresh curd. If you are using homemade yogurt or curd make sure it is fresh, thick and not sour.
If your curd is bit watery or not fresh, just add 2-3 tablespoons fresh cream and whisk well before using.
Make sure to whisk the yogurt very well and add slowly in low heat.
Nuts- Nuts are used in the recipe to give a rich taste and creamy texture. I like to use an equal mix of cashews and almonds here.
Cashew Nuts lend a wonderful creamy taste and almonds adds a rich texture and flavor. If you prefer to make a lighter curry you can reduce cashews and increase almonds.
In few recipes you will find only cashews. You can also make shahi paneer with cashews alone but almonds add a nice flavor and texture.
Onions– onions along with nuts and yogurt is the base of this curry. Please do not reduce the quantity of onions as it will alter the volume of gravy.
Ginger garlic– Fresh minced ginger garlic adds wonderful flavor to this curry.
Tomato or tomato puree if you want to add tomatoes to this shahi paneer gravy recipe, just blanch 2 large tomatoes along with onions and nuts. You can add 1/2 cup tomato puree after adding shahi paste if you like.
More Notes & Suggestions
Whole spices- Whole spices are used here for delicate yet good flavor. For this restaurant style recipe for shahi paneer you will need bay leaf, green cardamom, cinnamon stick and cumin leaves.
Along with spices we are adding some basic spice powders like red chili powder, garam masala powder, ground turmeric for flavor. Use best quality spice powders for good flavor and taste.
Paneer– Use freshest soft paneer for best taste. I recommend using homemade paneer for this recipe. If you are using store bought paneer, place the paneer in warm water for 20-30 minutes, rinse thoroughly and use in recipe.
Saffron- Saffron lends a mellow, wonderful, rich, warm and delicate flavor to this curry. I suggest, you use a good fat pinch for authentic flavor.
I also dry roast the saffron for few seconds so that it easier to crush and you get the most of the flavor.
How To Make Shahi Paste
Bring 2 cups water to rolling boil. Add 1 cup cubed onions, 15 almonds and also 15 whole cashews. Cook them in medium heat for 5-6 minutes. Remove from flame, drain excess water and set aside.
Grind to a very smooth paste and keep aside.
Dry roast a fat pinch of saffron for few seconds in a small pan in lowest flame.
Soak the roasted saffron in 2-3 tablespoons of warm milk. Keep aside.
How To Make Shahi Paneer
Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy pan. Add 1 inch cinnamon stick, 1 bay leaf, 2 green cardamoms and also 1 teaspoon cumin seeds. Fry for a minute in medium heat.
Whisk the yogurt well without lumps and keep it ready.
Add the prepared paste, freshly minced ginger garlic and saute very well for 5-6 minutes until the butter separates from sides. Now in low heat, slowly add the whisked yogurt and mix. Cook in low heat for 3-4 minutes further.
Now add the ground turmeric, red chili powder and garam masala powder. Mix and saute very well for 2-3 minutes.
Now add 1 cup water and mix well. Add salt to taste. Simmer the curry for 5-6 minutes, stirring once or twice.
Now add the saffron soaked milk, kewra water, fresh cream and mix well. Simmer for another 2 or 3 minutes.
Finally add the cubed paneer and mix shahi paneer gravy gently. Simmer for 1 minute.
Remove the curry from flame. Shahi paneer curry is ready to serve.
This shahi paneer tastes wonderful when served warm. You can garnish with cilantro leaves, more saffron and rose petals. Kasuri methi is not used in shahi paneer.
Shahi Paneer Recipe
For shahi paste
- 1 large onion cubed
- 15 almonds
- 15 whole cashews
For making shahi paneer curry
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 2 green cardamoms
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger garlic or paste
- 1/2 cup yogurt plain curd, fresh and whisked well
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- Salt to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon saffron strands
- 1 teaspoon kewra water
- 1/4 cup fresh cream
- 200 grams cubed paneer Indian cottage cheese
- 3 cups water divided
- 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves chopped
For making gravy sauce for shahi paneer
- Bring 2 cups water to a rolling boil. Add 1 cup cubed onions, 15 almonds and 15 whole cashews. Cook in medium heat for 5-6 minutes. Remove from flame and drain excess water.
- Drain and grind to a smooth paste.
- Dry roast a good fat pinch of saffron for few seconds in a small pan in lowest flame. Soak the roasted saffron in 2-3 tablespoons warm milk. Keep aside until use.
Drain and grind to a smooth paste.
- Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy pan. Add 1 inch cinnamon stick, 1 bay leaf, 2 green cardamoms and 1 teaspoon cumin seeds. Fry for a minute.
- Add the prepared paste, minced ginger and garlic and saute very well for 5-6 minutes until the butter separates from sides. Now in low flame, slowly add the whisked yogurt and mix. Cook in low flame for 3-4 minutes further.
- Now add ground turmeric, red chili powder and garam masala powder. Mix well and saute very well for 2-3 minutes.
- Add 1 cup water and mix well. Also add salt to taste. Simmer the curry for 5-6 minutes. Now add saffron soaked milk, kewra water, fresh cream and mix well. Simmer for another 2 minutes.
- Finally add the cubed paneer and mix gently. Simmer for a minute.
- Finally add paneer cubes and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
- Remove from flame. Shahi paneer is ready to serve. This shahi paneer tastes wonderful when served warm. You can garnish with cilantro leaves, more saffron and rose petals. Kasuri methi is not used in shahi paneer.