When I was in India this time, the cook at my parents’ place made this amazing shahi paneer dish at a party that my parents hosted. Now, I have made shahi paneer in the past from a recipe my mother uses. The results have been good, always good. But, both my mom and I liked this recipe. And when I found out it was so easy, I had to try it out for myself.

“Shahi” means royal in Urdu and “paneer” is the name given to Indian cottage cheese. Indian cottage cheese is much firmer than the cottage cheese that we get here in the US. Unlike most cheeses in the world, the making of paneer does not involve rennet as the coagulation agent, thus making it completely lacto-vegetarian and providing one of the sources of protein for vegetarians in India. It is generally unsalted.

Shahi Paneer is the slightly richer version of Paneer Makhani or Butter Paneer (the vegetarian counterpart of the famous Butter chicken). A major difference in the nomenclature comes from the use of nuts and raisins- the former includes them in the recipe, the latter doesn’t.

As how all recipes go, there are various versions of shahi paneer out there in the cyber space, in Indian kitchens and in cookbooks. My mom’s recipe uses dried fenugreek recipes (which I have seen other recipes also mention). But this doesn’t. Yes, there are different versions online, but I like this recipe for its straight forwardness.

While the spices might differ from region to region and even from one household to another, the cooking method also has many variations. Some fry the paneer before putting it in the gravy. It helps in preventing the cheese from crumbling in the sauce.

I have also found Soma’s tip on baking it and broiling the paneer pretty helpful. Soma marinades her paneer in red chilli powder, dried fenugreek leaves, yogurt, salt and oil and then bakes them in a preheated 350 F oven for 7 minutes, and broiling for 3 minutes.

You can also fry the paneer pieces in a skillet. Heat some oil, adding a pinch red chilli powder, turmeric powder and some cumin powder. Add the paneer and fry till golden brown on both sides.

Some just put the paneer in raw. I do that sometimes, especially when I am cooking it for V and myself, especially when I do not need any extra oil! But for a party- a one time indulgent, I do go all the way.

Tips I follow while making this recipe:

  • If using store bought paneer, it helps to briefly soak the paneer in salted hot water. Place the paneer in a bowl filled with salted boiling water for 10-15 minutes. Once the cheese is softened, drain and set the paneer aside.
  • Sometimes I add a little sugar to make it a little sweet. Usually raisins are used in this royal curry, but since I am not a fan of them, I did not add any. You can also use ketchup to add sweetness and color to the gravy.
  • It helps wearing gloves while cooking the tomato-onion mixture, because the sauce has a tendency to splutter.
  • The more you cook the gravy, the better flavor it will have, but make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring it.
  • Generally, after removing the onion-tomato mixture, to remove any leftover mixture in the blender, I add the warm water called for in the recipe to the blender, and scoop out any leftover tomato-onion mixture in the blender. That way you don’t waste anything.
  • After draining the water from the onion-tomato mixture, let it cool a bit before blending. If its too hot and you blend it, the hot steam tends to push the lid off the blender, and can cause serious burns. I am speaking from experience and had a red hand once (on a totally different recipe). Using a towel on top so that even if it does overflow from the blender helps my hands from scalding.
  • IF MAKING AHEAD, make the gravy and broil the paneer, if necessary, but reserve adding the paneer to the gravy till the day of serving. Also make the gravy a little thinner, as it will thicken with time. If you do add the paneer, reheat in microwave or oven. Reheating on the stove, might lead to the paneer breaking into pieces while stirring.

This recipe has been linked to Indian Food Palooza


5.0 from 5 reviews
Garam Masala Tuesdays: Shahi Paneer
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Shahi Paneer is usually a special occasion dish because of its richness. I tried the recipe given by the cook for the first time on my own two weeks back. But, the gravy was a little too thick and rich, and a lot for just the two of us. Next time, I halved the recipe and decreased the cashew called for to a quarter of the original recipe. And now its the way I want it. The recipe below is the improvised version. The best part of this recipe is that it does not require too many spices, and still is quite flavorful. This dish is perfect for those who would like to make Indian food at home, but do not have the necessary spices on hand. It can be served with any Indian bread, such as naan or roti.
Recipe type: main, entree, indian, vegetarian, side
Serves: 3-4
  • 250gm onions (1 large onion), quartered
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • 3-4 green chillies ( if you prefer less heat, deseed the chillies)
  • 125 gm tomato (2 small roma tomatoes or 1.5 large tomato)
  • 50 gm cashews
  • 2-3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste ( 1 inch ginger & 4 cloves garlic)
  • 250 gms paneer
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp sugar or 1 tbsp ketchup (See note above)
  • ½ - ¾ cup low fat milk
  • 1 cup warm water (might require a little more to thin out the gravy)
  • a handful of kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 3-4 tbsp finely chopped cilantro leaves
  • a very small pinch garam masala (optional)
  • salt, to taste
  1. Peel the ginger, and in a spice grinder, grind the ginger and garlic into a paste. (You might need to add ½tsp of water to make the paste smooth).
  2. Wash the tomatoes, and remove the eyes of the tomato, and cut crosses on the other side (as shown in the picture on right above)
  3. Put the tomatoes, onions, coriander seeds, green chillies, and cashews in a big enough sauce pot. Add enough water to cover the vegetables and let it come to a boil (about 10 minutes). Drain the water and blend it to a paste. I generally keep a cup under the strainer and reserve some of the liquid to put in the gravy later. You could remove the skin of the tomatoes if you like, but it is fine even if you don't.
  4. In another pan (I use the same sauce pot), heat the butter. Once hot, add in the ginger-garlic paste. Fry till goldenish. Add the onion-tomato paste.
  5. Fry on medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until the oil separates. (Use your gloves- see note. If you are using a big enough pot then you might not require the gloves ).
  6. Add salt and turmeric powder and let cook for another 15-20 minutes on medium-low flame. (I added 2 tsp red chilli powder as well). Add ¼ cup of the reserved warm water. Cook for 5 minutes and keep adding the rest of 1 cup of water every 5 minutes, for the next 15 minutes.
  7. Add the roasted cumin powder and kasoori methi in the sauce and mix well. Season with salt and add sugar if required. You can add a little ketchup as well. The ketchup adds a little sweetness, and a little red colour to the gravy.
  8. While the sauce is being cooked, cut the paneer into triangles, (or cubes or whatever shape you prefer). I like to cut the paneer into 1 inch long triangles that are about ½ inch thick.
  9. Bake/broil/fry the paneer, if you would like. (see note)
  10. When ready to serve, reheat the sauce. Add the paneer, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add finely chopped cilantro, the milk and if required a little more warm water. Adjust seasoning. You can add a pinch of garam masala at this point, if you like. Serve hot with naan, or roti.

29 Thoughts on “Garam Masala Tuesdays: Shahi Paneer

  1. Looks delicious!!

  2. Beautiful and mouth watering photos!

  3. I always adore your Tuesday posts so much – they are fantastic. The photos are excellent and the narrative interesting – thanks 🙂

  4. you kow the kind of Wednesday where you are waiting for Thursday cuz its a holiday tomorrow for Holi..drooling over foodgawker and suddenly while searching for the perfect butter chicken recipe, you come across this absolute riot of colors and flavors and memories and love 🙂

    what a gorgeous blog you have here lady 🙂 and though i am not quiet a cook myself but am following you because of your simple and honest writing and love for food .

    Happy Holi 🙂

  5. I love this .. i did not know to boil all of them first and then to make a paste .. will do so next time and see how it comes out .. thank you 🙂

  6. yummies shum….got a party coming next weekend please suggest some easy veg snacks!!

  7. Not only does this look delicious, but your photos are absolutely gorgeous– I love the bold colours.

  8. I love Tuesdays. Do you know why? I love reading and trying some garam marsala Tuesday recipes from you. I just found this lovely Indian Provisions store in Causeway bay and I can get everything I need. I am delighted to be able to try more of your recipes. Take care BAM

  9. This looks wonderful. My husband and I love paneer, but we’ve only ever made saag paneer using it…..I’m loving this as our next paneer recipe to try!

  10. I really need to learn to make Indian food. I think it is one of the few types of food I haven’t tried yet because I always felt like the spices and ingredients were intimidating or hard to find, but they really aren’t as long as you follow directions the first time around!

  11. This dish looks incredible! What a combination of flavors. Yum.

  12. First time visiting your blog. Found your site through Foodgawker. I’m sure you’ve heard it before but you do really have a beautiful blog and I love your candid writing. I’m not very familiar with North Indian dishes but this dish looks like it is bursting with flavours. Looks incredibly tempting and delicious with the cashew nut (one of my favourite ingredients) paste.

  13. First time at ur space,..curry looks delicious,…

  14. Looks absolutely delicious.. love all the pics!!

  15. Pingback: I heart Food | SoapNights / Kristin Nicole

  16. This dish looks amazing!

  17. Aarti Varma on 19 August, 2012 at 5:19 pm said:

    Just made this and I have to say this recipe is really really lacking. I was so excited to make it but the end result is so onion-y and sweet. I had to fry the onion-tomato paste for almost an hour till it was done. Then I had to fry some more tomato separately for it to get the correct flavor and it STILL too onion-y and sweet. The onion to tomato ratio is just ridiculously high. Next time I will put less onion. Additionally, it is just bland. I added methi and that made it a little better but it really needs some garam masala powder add the end. I really like your blog and like looking at your food and recipes, but I think I will definitely try a different recipe next time. :/

    • Thank you so much for letting me know your experience with the recipe. I am sorry it didn’t work out for you. I tried the recipe again after reading your comment to see what might have been wrong with it. I think while halving the ingredients the second time I made it with the changes I felt were required after my first try, I made a mistake in writing the amount of onion and tomatoes for the recipe. I have made the necessary changes and like the first time it just took me about 20-25 minutes for the entire cooking of the mixture. Anyway now I have mentioned the correct amount of weight and quantity for each ingredient. Hope that should take care of any room for error.
      As for kasoori methi, like I mentioned in the post- my mom’s recipe does use kasoori methi, but since this one didn’t and I try to write recipes for this series keeping in mind that some of the people trying might not have access to all the ingredients, I felt that omitting kasoori methi in the recipe still yields pretty good results. I tried the gravy with and without kasoori methi- yes, I agree there was a difference, and now I have included it in the updated recipe. As for garam masala- I tried the recipe without it and with it (although even with it, I just added a very small pinch of garam masala). I felt the gravy already was quite flavorful and masaledar and any more garam masala would just make it too masaledar for my tastes. Maybe its just a difference in taste. I am not used to too spicy or masaledar food as it messes up my system. I did ask my husband who does love spice in his food and he found it perfect. So maybe I guess it’s just a difference of taste buds in this case. If you are looking for one that is more spicy, I can recommend Soma’s blog. Although, I haven’t tried her version and the recipe is a little elaborate, all her other recipes have worked really well for me so I can guarantee this should as well. Here is the link—

      Again, thank you for your feedback. It is really appreciated!:)

  18. I tried this recipe last night for dinner, and it came out really well. It was so delicious my husband and I devoured it with homemade butter naans. Thanks a lot! I found your recipe via Pinterest.

  19. This just looks amazing. Great pics. Keep up the good work.

  20. Rachel on 29 October, 2013 at 1:29 am said:

    This is one of the best recipes I have tried in a long time (week cook indian food at least twice a week). The flavours were to die for. I chose to marinade the paneer in the yoghurt, chilli powder, fenugreek leaves and oil as suggested on Soma’s blog but I followed your recipe and o my goodness amazing. I also added raisins instead of sugar/ ketchup. It was great! I highly recommend this is going on my regular cooks and also now looking at the rest of your blog for more recipes.
    This was close to an amazing korma recipe but I personally think better – no cream. 🙂 thank you

  21. Hi Shumaila

    Tried this recipe last night and it turned out really delicious
    Thanks for clear instructions and great recipe.

    Shahana recently posted..Craft Foam RosesMy Profile

  22. Ankur Kumar on 8 March, 2014 at 1:42 am said:

    I just went through the entire recipe, before heading to make it, It looked yummy, although the one thing which looks missing is that english names of the ingredients. Madam I am a north indian and we do not use english words for the ingredients names, so it would be good to write the corresponding hindi names in the brackets. Thanks and god bless you.

  23. Hi! Your shahi paneer recipe was nominated as one of the “Best Shahi Paneer Recipes on the Net”. To vote for it, please visit http://easyindianrecipes.org/side-dish-recipes/best-shahi-paneer-recipes-on-the-net-vote-for-your-favorite/ – your recipe is positioned at #42 (random order).
    Easy Indian Recipes recently posted..Best 200 Shahi Paneer Recipes on the Net – VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE!My Profile

  24. parul on 6 March, 2016 at 10:07 am said:

    this is the best Paneer recipe ever…. I tried it yesterday. It was absolutely delicious. Thank you.

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