The name “Shahi Paneer” can directly be translated into “Royal Paneer” which is a perfect name for this delicious and decadent dish. Shahi Paneer is a rich and creamy Mughlai dish and a typical favorite in Northern India.
Paneer is an essential component of Indian cuisine, especially in North Indian or Punjabi dishes. It is a mild cheese made usually from whole milk, similar to a Farmer’s cheese. It has a firm texture and is a non-melting cheese that can withstand prolonged cooking times and still have the ability to retain its shape, texture and flavor.
Home made paneer has a wonderful fresh taste and is also easy to make but store bought paneer is just as good and is easily available in any Indian grocery store. You can also substitute firm ricotta cheese or extra firm tofu as well. Feel free to use organic milk and make your own home made organic paneer.
3 cups paneer cubes (1” or so in size), lightly fried
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1” piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced
1 large garlic clove, finely minced
2-3 small green Thai chilies, slit in half lengthwise (to taste)
1 medium tomato, finely diced
1 tbsp tomato paste
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin powder
1 tsp ground coriander powder
½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp red chili powder (to taste)
salt & pepper, to taste
8-10 raw cashews (unsalted & not toasted)
½ cup milk
1 cup cream (you can use ½ &½ or even yogurt)
2-3 tbsp oil, canola or vegetable
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
Gently warm the milk (using the microwave is fine) and soak the cashews for at least 15-20 minutes until they soften. Blend in a blender or mini food processor until smooth (add water if needed). Set aside until needed.
In a large deep skillet or wok on medium high heat, add the oil. When hot, add the onion. Let fry until the edges are just lightly browned and add the ginger, garlic and green chilies. Next add all of the spices (turmeric, ground cumin powder, ground coriander powder, garam masala, red chili powder, salt & pepper). Stir and let the spices fry in the oil until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and the cashew paste. If needed, add a ½ cup of water or so. This curry is usually very smooth so at this point you can allow the curry to cool off a bit. Then blend the curry either using a hand held immersion blender or transfer to a regular blender. Return the smooth blended curry back to the heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the paneer cubes and cream, gently stir and let simmer for 8-10 minutes or so. Garnish and serve with fresh rotis and fragrant Basmati rice.