Dhaba-style Shahi Paneer

Gluten FreeVegetarian

In the world of Indian vegetarian dishes, Shahi Paneer is one of those recipes that has become a staple in North Indian cuisine. Due to its rich flavors, this delicious paneer recipe is often on the dinner menu. Featuring heavily on every restaurant menu globally, it is often tweaked a bit but the dish’s essence remains the same, soft paneer cubes served in a thick tomato-based gravy.

Like many other north Indian dishes, it is mildly spicy yet rich with a heavy dose of fresh cream and a generous amount of butter when served. Yet I prefer the more rustic version of shahi paneer which is served at the dhabas or highway side hotels. In this blog post, I have shared how to make restaurant-style shahi paneer without cream, using milk as a healthier alternative.

Shahi paneer served with paneer cubes and fresh coriander leaves on top

Shahi Paneer Recipe Ingredients

  • 200 gms Fresh paneer – cut in cubes or triangles
  • 1 large-sized Onion, cut in cubes
  • 2 medium-sized Tomatoes, cut in cubes
  • 1/2 inch piece of Ginger and 6-7 cloves of Garlic
  • 4-5 nos. Cashews, soaked and ground into a paste
  • 1/4 cup of Milk, as a cream substitute
  • Whole spices such as Cardamoms, Clove, Cinnamon, Cumin seeds, Caraway seeds
  • A mix of spices including turmeric, red chili powder, garam masala, kasuri methi and coriander powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • Fresh coriander leaves & Kasuri Methi , for garnish

Preparing the Base Gravy

Step by step recipe for Shahi Paneer
  • Start by heating oil in a pan and add the whole spices. As they sizzle and release aroma, add onion, ginger, garlic and tomatoes. Cook until they release water and turn mushy. Add salt to help it cook
  • When you see oil separating at the edges, add the powdered spices and mix. Turn off the heat and allow the mix to cool down
Step by step recipe for Shahi Paneer
  • Once it has cooled down completely, blend the mix into a thick and smooth paste
  • In the same pan, heat some ghee and add a pinch of caraway seeds (shahi jeera). As they crackle, pour back the gravy mix. As it simmers, add the cashew paste. Give everything a good stir to avoid sticking at the bottom of the pan and burning
  • Add milk while stirring the pot to get the perfect consistency of the gravy.
  • Turn off the heat, drop the paneer cubes in the gravy, and let them soak in the flavors of the gravy.
  • Finish with a sprinkle of dried kasuri methi leaves and finely chopped fresh coriander leaves.

Shahi Paneer Recipe Without Cream

Using milk instead of cream not only makes the dish lighter but also retains the richness. As the milk simmers with the base gravy, it thickens and takes on a creamy consistency.

How to Keep Paneer Soft in Gravy

To ensure your paneer remains soft and succulent:

  • Soak the paneer cubes in warm salted water for 20 minutes before adding them to the gravy. You can follow the same process for fried paneer as well. As they turn golden and crispy, drop them in water. After 10 minutes, take them out and add to the prepared shahi paneer gravy
  • Add the paneer towards the end of the cooking process and simmer on low heat.

How to Thicken Shahi Paneer Gravy?

If you find your gravy too thin, consider:

  • Cooking it down on a low flame to evaporate excess liquid. Make sure to keep stirring the gravy as it contains nuts and they tend to make the gravy stick to the bottom.
  • Adding a tablespoon of ground cashews or almonds to thicken the mixture.

Serving Suggestions

Typically restaurants pair Shahi Paneer with Naans or Jeera Rice. At home I prefer this with simple roti bread or chapati. Any which way, this is an excellent Indian vegetarian side dish recipe that can be served with both breads as well as rice.

Variations to Shahi Paneer recipe

Shahi Paneer is a versatile dish that can be adapted in various ways to suit different tastes and dietary preferences. Here are few ideas for variations on the classic Shahi Paneer recipe:

1. Nut-Free Variation – Those who are allergic to nuts or just prefer not to use them, can thicken the gravy with poppy seeds, melon seeds (charmagaj) or pumpkin seeds instead of cashews and almonds.

2. Vegan Shahi Paneer – For a vegan version, simply replace paneer with tofu and use plant-based yogurt and milk or cream. Use firm tofu and press it well to remove excess water before adding it to the gravy.

3. Shahi Paneer with Yogurt – Instead of cream or milk, you can use yogurt to add a tangy flavor and creamy texture to the gravy. Whisk the yogurt with some water until smooth and gently stir it into the gravy while cooking on low heat to prevent curdling.

4. Shahi Paneer recipe without Tomato – If you want to avoid tomatoes, you can create a gravy based solely on onions, ginger, garlic, and a blend of spices. This will give you a rich and creamy sauce with a different flavor profile.

5. Spicy Shahi Paneer – For those who enjoy a bit of heat, add more green chilies or red chili powder. You can also incorporate spices like black pepper or cayenne pepper to add more kick.

6. Shahi Paneer with Different Proteins – While paneer is the star ingredient, you can substitute it with chicken or mushrooms for a non-vegetarian or another vegetarian option, respectively. Adjust the cooking time accordingly.

7. Lighter Shahi Paneer – If you are looking for a lighter version of Shahi Paneer in terms of calories, use milk like I have done here instead of full-fat cream. This reduces the calorie count drastically while maintaining a creamy consistency.

8. Adding Vegetables – You can add vegetables like peas, bell peppers, or spinach to the gravy for added nutrition and color. Make sure to saute the vegetables before adding them to the dish.

9. Shahi Paneer with Saffron – For an extra touch of luxury, add a few strands of saffron soaked in warm milk. This will impart a beautiful color and a distinctive aroma to the dish.

10. Shahi Paneer without Onion and Garlic – For a Jain version or if you’re avoiding these ingredients, skip the onion and garlic. Use asafoetida (hing) as a substitute tempering in a teaspoon of ghee for extra flavours.

More Paneer Recipes

Have you tried this recipe? I would love to hear about it. Please leave a comment and star rating if you loved my recipes. It would help this post to reach more readers. Thank you!

Follow me or Subscribe to my Channel

Dhaba-style Shahi Paneer Recipe
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

This rustic dhaba-style shahi paneer recipe has a rich tomato-based gravy with soft paneer cubes in it. Without using any cream, it has a rich and creamy texture that comes with less calories and high on taste

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian, Punjabi
Diet: Hindu
Keyword: Paneer Recipes, Shahi Paneer Recipe, vegetarian recipes
Servings: 4 people
Author: Priyanka
Ingredients
  • 200 gms Fresh paneer cut in cubes or triangles
  • 1 Onion large-sized cut in cubes
  • 2 Tomatoes medium-sized cut in cubes
  • 1/2 inch Ginger
  • 6 Cloves of Garlic
  • 4-5 nos. Cashews soaked and ground into a paste
  • 1/4 cup Milk as a cream substitute
  • 2 Green Cardamoms
  • 3 Cloves
  • ½ inch Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp Cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp Caraway seeds
  • ¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
  • ½ tsp Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
  • ¼ tsp Garam Masala Powder
  • ½ tsp Coriander powder
  • Salt to Taste
  • Fresh coriander leaves & Kasuri Methi for garnish
  • 1 tbsp Refined Oil
  • ½ tbsp Ghee
Instructions
  1. Start by heating 1 tbsp Refined Oil in a pan and add the whole spices. As they sizzle and release aroma, add onion, ginger, garlic and tomatoes. Cook until they release water and turn mushy. Add salt to help it cook

  2. When you see oil separating at the edges, add the powdered spices and mix. Turn off the heat and allow the mix to cool down
  3. Once it has cooled down completely, blend the mix into a thick and smooth paste
  4. In the same pan, heat some ½ tbsp Ghee and add a pinch of caraway seeds (shahi jeera). As they crackle, pour back the gravy mix. As it simmers, add the cashew paste. Give everything a good stir to avoid sticking at the bottom of the pan and burning

  5. Add 1/4 cup Milk while stirring the pot to get the perfect consistency of the gravy.

  6. Turn off the heat, drop the paneer cubes in the gravy, and let them soak in the flavors of the gravy.
  7. Finish with a sprinkle of dried kasuri methi leaves and finely chopped fresh coriander leaves.

Share it with your Friends & Family!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




Indian Food Blogger Priyanka Bhattacharya

Hi! I’m Priyanka!

A passionate home cook and food lover who loves nothing more than sharing my favourite recipes with the world.

Search


You’ll also love