By Hetal Bulsara
Local foodie and recipe creator, Hetal Bulsara is a gifted home cook and mother of two who tells a story with each recipe she creates. It is always exciting to have a new creator work with The Spice Merchant and with Hetal's food photography skills and delectable recipes she is no exception.
Shaahi paneer literally means “paneer for royalty”, and true to its name, this Mughlai dish is creamy, rich and full of bold flavor. Prepared with notes of Cloves, Cardamom, Saffron and Cinnamon, it’s very hard not to lick your fingers and go for seconds! It can be paired with naan or rice. While the traditional Mughlian Shaahi Panneer uses yogurt, this recipe substitutes it with tomatoes so it’s easier to cook without splitting the gravy! If you’re having guests over for dinner, this dish is sure to delight!
Yields: 4 servings
Heat: Mild (add more chili powder for a spicier dish)
Duration: 1 hour (15 minutes prep time)
1 thai green chili (sliced in half, lengthwise)
4 tbsp ghee or oil
2 chopped onions (medium)
1 heap tsp crushed ginger and garlic
Handful of raw cashew nuts
¾ cups of canned whole tomatoes (blended)
3 teaspoons (leveled) salt
½ teaspoon Kashmiri Mirch or crushed Reshampatti chili (more if you prefer spicy)
5 strands of Afghanistan Saffron
4 cups celery, chopped
1 tbsp ghee on oil
340g paneer cut into cubes and soaked in boiling water for 10-15 minutes.
230 ml heavy or whipping cream
1 tsp honey (optional)
1 ½ cups of water
½ tsp Garam Masala
Chopped cilantro (optional)
Warm 1 tbps of cream in the microwave for a few seconds, then add the saffron strands so they can sit in the cream and release their flavor.
Now let's start the gravy. Heat 4 tbsp of oil or ghee on medium heat, then add the first 4 ingredients (cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, green chilli), and sizzle for 1 minute, or until slightly changed in color.
2. Add the onions and braise for 2 minutes, then add in the ginger and garlic paste and cashew nuts, and braise further until the onions are slightly golden, around 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the green chillies from the onion mixture, then transfer the mixture in the blender, add the tomatoes and blend until a smooth consistency is formed.
In the same pan on medium heat add 1 tbsp ghee, followed by the blended mixture, chili powder if using, coriander powder and salt. Cook this mixture well, stirring often for about 5 minutes. The mixture will be quite thick, don’t worry it will smoothen out later!
Add the cream, water, saffron, Garam masala and honey, and mix well until you get a smooth gravy, you can add more water if you prefer a thinner consistency. Add in the paneer and cook for 3 minutes.
Garnish with coriander and enjoy with rice or naan!