Punjabi Shahi Paneer recipe | Restaurant style Shahi Paneer | How to make Shahi Paneer
Shahi Paneer recipe | Learn how to make rich, creamy, flavorful restaurant-style Shahi Paneer at home.
In our home, any dish made with Paneer can impress everyone. The word paneer brings a twinkle to the eyes of my 5 years old kid.
What is Shahi Paneer?
Shahi Paneer is one of the most famous and mouth-watering North Indian delicacies, originating from Mughlai cuisine.
Shahi = Royal and Paneer = Indian cheese often referred to as cottage cheese. Put together, it is a Royal Paneer dish, something fit for the Kings. True to its name, this dish is sure to leave anyone wanting more.
How is Shahi Paneer different in taste? Paneer is cooked in a shahi gravy that is thick in consistency, velvety smooth, and mildly sweet in taste. A bite leaves a slight feeling of sweetness on your tongue and a subtle taste of whole spices.
Difference between Shahi Paneer and Paneer Butter Masala, Paneer Tikka Masala, Kadai Paneer etc?
Ordering a Paneer dish in a North Indian was always confusing. The menu card has a paneer section with a long list of paneer variants.
Meme culture has made funny images of the similarities between Paneer dishes in India. Order any paneer dish and you will be served the same.
But it’s not true. I noticed a difference in taste, texture, and color of gravies at Santosh Dhaba in Hyderabad, the restaurant is popular for vegetarian dishes and prepares the best paneer curries.
After some research, I found out that most restaurant dishes revolve around the onion-tomato proportion. Depending on the dish, the proportion varies. Also, each dish is unique in how they are cooked and the spices used to flavor it.
There are some slight differences that differentiate paneer dishes from one another. Here are a few:
Paneer Butter Masala: Self-explanatory – Paneer is cooked with lots of butter in a Masala (gravy) made with onion-tomato, tomato-cashew paste, and Indian spices.
Paneer Tikka Masala: There are two parts to this dish. Paneer tikkas- made by marinating paneer pieces with yogurt/hung curd, ginger garlic paste, tandoori masala, and a few Indian spices and grilled in a tandoor. This dish has a smoky flavor and cubes of vegetables- onion, capsicum, and tomato.
The tikkas are simmered in masala similar to paneer butter masala. A difference is, the quantity of makhani gravy is less.
Kadai Paneer: The gravy of kadai paneer is almost similar to Paneer Tikka Masala but there is a difference in the spice mix. Kadai masala, a coarse spice mix made by dry roasting whole dry red chilies, coriander seeds, whole black pepper, and cumin seeds is added to the onion tomato masala. Also, the quantity of cream and butter is less compared to other paneer dishes.
Shahi Paneer: This dish is different from the above dishes in taste and its looks. As it’s a dish made for the Kings, it has to be made with rich ingredients like nuts (cashews and almonds), khoya, and a generous amount of cream, fewer tomatoes, and a few Indian spices compared to its counterparts. Also, the color of the gravy is orangey-red.
Punjabi Shahi Paneer Recipe
Shahi Paneer recipe has two versions
Mughlai Shahi Paneer: The dish has white color gravy made with onion, curd, and nuts as the base for the gravy.
Punjabi Shahi Paneer: The dish has orangey-red color gravy, made with onion, tomatoes, kashmiri red chili powder, and nuts as the base.
The recipe I’m sharing is Punjabi Shahi Paneer.
Just like any other dish, the Punjabi Shahi Paneer recipe also has many variations. Some use tomatoes and some use curd as sour ingredients. The dish is unique for its velvety texture.
So, the Punjabi Shahi Paneer recipe is a three steps process;
1. Make the Shahi Paneer base masala.
2. Grind the masala to a smooth puree and strain.
3. Cook/Temper the puree with a few Indian spices.
Preparing this dish does take time, but it’s totally worth it. If you are planning to make this for a get-together or party, you can prepare the curry a day before, without paneer. The next day you can reheat the curry and add paneer pieces, the dish will be ready in 15 minutes,
Reasons to try Shahi Paneer recipe
The dish is a true celebration of rich flavors
Restaurant-style, yet super easy Shahi Paneer recipe
Delicious and creamy vegetarian dish
Pairs beautifully with rice or any Indian bread (butter naan, rotis, parathas, and so on)
Unique taste and not heavy on the stomach
A perfect dish for all the age groups
Ingredients to make Shahi Paneer
Paneer: Use fresh or good quality for best results. I used Jersey Soft paneer.
Onion & Tomato: To make the base of the curry. I pureed fresh tomatoes. Another option is store-bought tomato puree.
Whole Spices: Bay leaf, Cloves, Cinnamon, Green cardamoms, Cumin, Black Peppercorns, Black Cardamom. They add a subtle flavor to the curry.
Ginger-Garlic paste: This adds wonderful flavor to the curry.
Coriander stems: Adds a beautiful aroma.
Ground Spices: Kashmiri red chili powder, Coriander powder, Turmeric powder, Coriander powder, and Cumin powder.
Kasuri methi: This is the key ingredient in North Indian curries.
Nuts, Ghee, Butter, Milk, and Cream: Cashew nuts and Kharuja/Muskmelon seeds. All these ingredients are added to make the dish rich and creamy.
You can add almonds too
Sugar or Honey: To balance the sourness of tomatoes.
How to make Shahi Paneer?
Let’s learn to make this drool-worthy Shahi Paneer recipe easily in the comfort of your home.
1. In a pan add onion, tomatoes, whole spices, coriander stems, cashews, melon seeds, 1tbspn butter, garlic, and ginger.
2. Turn on the flame and saute for 2 minutes on medium flame. The sauteing process tastes better than just boiling the ingredients in water.
3. Add water. Cover the pan and cook till the tomatoes are mushy. This may take 10-15 minutes on low flame.
4. Remove bay leaf and transfer to a mixie jar.
5. Let it cool completely and grind to a smooth puree. Add little water if needed.
6. Strain the puree to remove any pieces of whole spices or unblended tomato skin.
7. Keep the strained puree aside.
8. In a bowl add turmeric powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, coriander powder and cumin powder. Add little water and mix well.
9. Heat oil or ghee in a pan. When hot, add the masala paste and saute till oil separates.
10. Add the strained puree and give a good mix.
11. Cover the pan and cook for 10-15 mins on low flame.
12. Next, add milk and mix well. Continue to cook on low flame for 5 minutes.
13. Add salt, sugar, kasuri methi, 1 tbsp butter, and cream. Mix and cook till the gravy thickens. Do not overcook, or else the cream will turn into ghee.
14. Add paneer pieces. Mix gently and cook for just 2-3 minutes.
Shahi Paneer is ready to relish. Garnish with fresh coriander/kasuri methi, fresh cream, and rogan/chili oil (optional). Serve hot with rumali roti or naan or pulao.
Paneer: The quality of the paneer makes a lot of difference in any dish. It has to be soft. You can use homemade or store-bought paneer. Use paneer at room tempertaure. If using refrigerated or frozen, soak the paneer in hot water for 15-30 mins.
Tomatoes: Always use hybrid tomatoes for any restaurant-style dishes. They are less tangy/sour compared to local tomatoes.
Add coriander stems: Usually, we use only coriander leaves and discard the stems. Using stems while making the gravy adds a beautiful aroma. In restaurants, it is a key ingredient when making makhani gravy.
Vibrant color of the gravy: Use good quality Kashmiri red chili powder or Deggi mirchi powder to get a vibrant color, just like your favorite restaurants.
Why my paneer is rubbery and hard? After adding the paneer pieces, gently mix with the gravy and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Do not simmer for longer. Overcooking removes moisture from the paneer pieces and will make them hard and rubbery.
Kasuri methi: Dry roast kasuri methi on low flame till crisp and crush between the palms.
Do not skip nuts paste, milk, and cream: To make Shahi Paneer truly royal in its taste, add these ingredients for rich and creamy curry.
How to store Shahi Paneer? You can refrigerate the leftover in an air-tight container for 2-3 days. Reheat in a pan on the stovetop or microwave until warm before serving.
To store beyond 2-3 days, you can freeze just the shahi gravy. Freezing may affect the taste and texture of paneer. Cool the gravy completely and transfer it to an air-tight container or freezer-safe bag. Freeze it for up to 2-3 months. Thaw at room temperature and heat till piping hot and add the paneer cubes.
More Restuarant style recipes you might like
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Punjabi Shahi Paneer recipe | How to make Shahi Paneer
Shahi Paneer Masala
- 2 medium Onions (roughly cut)
- 4 medium Tomatoes (roughly cut)
- 6-8 Garlic cloves
- 2 inch Ginger
- 1 tsp Shah jeera
- 4 Whole peppercons
- 3 Cloves
- 1 inch Cinnamon
- 2 medium size Bayleaf
- 2 Green Cardamom
- 1 Black Cardamom
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 8 whole Cashews
- 1 tbsp Melon seeds (magaj)
- few Coriander stems
- 200 gms Paneer
- 1 tbsp Oil or Ghee
- 2 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
- 1 tsp Coriander powder
- 1 tsp Cumin powder
- 1/2 cup Milk (boiled)
- 1 tsp Kasuri methi (dry roasted and crushed between palms)
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 3 tbsp Cream
- 1 tbspn Butter
- Salt to taste
Making Shahi Paneer masala
- In a pan add onions, tomatoes, whole spices, coriander stems, cashews, melon seeds, butter, garlic, and ginger.
- Turn on the flame and saute for 2 minutes on medium flame. The sauting process tastes better than just boiling the ingredients in water.
- Add water. Cover the pan and cook till tomatoes are mushy. This may take 10-15 minutes on low flame.
- Remove bay leaf and transfer to a mixie jar. Let it cool completely and grind to a smooth puree. Add little water if needed.
- Strain the puree to remove any pieces of whole spices or unblended tomatoes skin. Keep the strained puree aside.
- In a bowl add turmeric powder, kashmiri red chili powder, coriander powder, and cumin powder. Add little water and mix well.
- Heat oil or ghee in a pan. When hot, add the masala paste and saute till oil separates.
- Add the strained puree and give a good mix. Cover the pan and cook for 10-15 mins on low flame.
- Next, add milk and mix well. Continue to cook on low flame for 5 minutes.
- Add sugar, kasuri methi, butter, salt, and cream. Mix and cook till the gravy thickens. Do not overcook, else the cream will turn into ghee.
- Add paneer pieces. Mix gently and cook for just 2-3 minutes.
- Shahi Paneer is ready to relish.
while making the masala (pic 1) and red chili powder instead of kashmiri red
chili powder. To make Vegan Shahi Paneer, use coconut cream, vegan butter and tofu. For restaurant style smooth gravy, do not skip straining the puree. After adding the paneer cubes, do not overcook. Paneer pieces will lose moisture and become hard and chewy.