This vegetarian and gluten free curry is straight from Mughal kitchens too 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.
Are you looking for delicious yet different paneer curry for your rice or bread other than palak paneer, paneer butter masala types?
How about a rich delicate yet absolutely delicious rich yet delicate paneer curry with shahi touch? Wondering what it is? Presenting to you this rich and royal shahi paneer, a paneer curry straight from the royal kitchens of Mughals.
While most of the shahi dishes are meat based, this mughlai shahi paneer is a vegetarian as well as gluten free. If you are new to shahi based recipes, here are more details.
What Is Shahi Paneer Masala?
Shahi paneer curry is a rich and royal curry with hearty chunks of paneer or Indian cottage cheese 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 best 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, it is the best, this easy paneer recipe is indeed a treat to the taste buds.
This dish 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.
Many Indian restaurants serve shahi paneer in different ways. Some recipes use tomatoes, some use yogurt and few have very generous dose of cream.
One common ingredient you will find all restaurant style shahi paneer recipes are kewra water. It lends that distinct royal flavor to this curry.
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 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 for party, this restaurant style shahi paneer recipe would be a great fit.
This Best Easy Shahi Paneer Recipe Is
rich, delicate and luscious
flavored with saffron & kewra
so tasty and creamy
goes well with naan bread
vegetarian and gluten free.
What is the 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 popular paneer recipes. Most of the ingredients may be same, but they are different by how they are cooked and flavored.
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 or makhani gravy. It is very mildly spiced with a signature sweet taste.
Ingredients like yogurt, kewra or saffron is not used in this recipe.
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. North Indian restaurants usually serve this dish with tomatoes only.
Another difference is flavoring. To make 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.
Ingredients & Substitutes
Use good quality fresh paneer for best results. I use homemade paneer for paneer recipes. If using store-bought paneer you can keep the cubed paneer soaked in warm water for 15 minutes. You may find paneer in frozen section of Indian grocery stores in countries like the USA, UK.
Sub– Instead of paneer you can use tofu (vegan) or cubed halloumi or chopped mushrooms.
The whole spices used in this recipe are cinnamon stick, cardamom, cumin seeds and bay leaf. Make sure to use real cinnamon and not cassia for best taste and flavor. You can also use a pinch of nutmeg for more rich taste.
Sub- If you don’t have whole spices just increase the amount of garam masala by another 1 teaspoon,
The spice powders used in shahi paneer recipe are basic pantry staple powders used in Indian cooking. You will need coriander powder, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and a pinch of garam masala.
Shahi Paste Ingredients
The flavorful smooth puree of shahi paste or cashew paste is made of blanched onions, cashews & almonds. To make this paste richer you could add 1 tablespoon poppy seeds, 2 teaspoons melon seeds too. These ingredients makes for a rich creamy paste.
Butter, salt, saffron threads, fresh cream, kewra water & chopped coriander leaves.
Kewra water is extracted from pandanus flowers. It has a rich flavor with mild fruity taste. It is widely used in shahi recipes of Mughal cuisine. If it is unavailable you can skip it.
How To Make Shahi Paneer Recipe
Making Shahi Paste
Bring 2 cups water to rolling boil for cooking onions and nuts. 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 let it cool. Add cooked onions and nuts to a mixer grinder or blender jar.
Grind to a very fine paste along with 1 tablespoon melon seeds and keep aside. This is the base for your rich gravy. It should be a smooth paste for best taste.
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.
Making Restaurant Style Shahi Paneer Gravy
Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy pan on medium heat. Add 1 inch cinnamon stick, 1 bay leaf, 2 green cardamoms and also 1 teaspoon cumin seeds. Fry for a minute in medium heat. Add 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste and saute.
Whisk the yogurt well without lumps and keep it ready.
Add the ground onion paste or cashew paste 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 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder and garam masala powder. Mix and saute very well for 2-3 minutes. You can also add some crushed black pepper powder here. Cook till fat separates from sides.
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 gently. Simmer for another 2 or 3 minutes until the gravy thickens.
Finally add paneer cut into cubes and mix the creamy gravy gently. Simmer for 1 minute in medium low heat. Add chopped coriander leaves.
Remove the curry from flame. Shahi paneer curry is ready to serve. You can add few saffron strands and chopped dry fruits before serving. You can also sprinkle dried fenugreek leaves or kasuri methi. Serve shahi paneer hot.
Make It Vegan
If you want to make vegan version of this curry here are the substitutes. Use
- Pressed extra firm tofu cubes instead of paneer
- Oil instead of butter
- Cashew yogurt or almond yogurt instead of dairy yogurt
- Non dairy cream like coconut cream.
This creamy shahi paneer tastes wonderful when served warm. You can garnish with cilantro leaves, more saffron and rose petals.
You can also enjoy shahi paneer with steamed basmati rice.
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 cashew paste 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.
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.
Can I add fried paneer in this dish?
More Notes On Ingredients
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 hot water for 20-30 minutes, rinse thoroughly and use in recipe.
If you prefer you can fry the paneer pieces too. Add the paneer only after the gravy has well thickened.
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.
Ginger garlic– Fresh minced ginger garlic adds wonderful flavor to this curry.
More Popular Recipes
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes shahi paneer is gluten free and vegetarian.
Yes, just add 1/2 teaspoon of it after removing the curry from flame.
While it is not a spicy curry, it is also not sweet as well. It has a delicate flavor from aromatic spices and a wonderful rich taste from nuts.
If you wish to make it spicier just saute 2 green chili along with ginger garlic.
Yes, just toast the paneer in 1 teaspoon ghee or clarified butter and add it to the gravy.
Yes chop 2 large tomatoes, blanch the chopped tomatoes along with onions and grind or add 1/2 cup tomato purée while adding shahi paste. To make north Indian restaurant style rich creamy gravy add 1/2 cup tomato puree.
Are you making this recipe? I would love to see a snap of your creation too. Do snap a pic and share on Instagram with hashtag #cookclickndevou and please give a star rating ★ in the recipe card above. Follow us on Pinterest , Instagram, Facebook for more recipes and ideas.
Shahi Paneer Recipe
1 CUP = 250 ml
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.
- Add fresh cream
- 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.