Shahi Paneer or Shahi Paneer Masala is a rich and creamy indian cheese recipe that is served with naan but you can serve it with rice if you prefer. Shahi means Royal and as such this is a recipe that is a little bit luxurious. You can add both fruits and nuts and even rose water/petals if you like but I stick to cashews only because that is how we like it.
Crush the Saffron between your fingers and dry roast in a pan over medium low heat.
Soak 10 Cashews in water for 15 - 20 minutes.
Fry Paneer cubes in oil for 1 - 2 minutes each side or until golden all over. (Optional).
In a pot over medium/high heat add oil and ghee/butter. Then add cardamom pods, cinnamon, cloves. Cook for a minute.
Now add diced onions. Cook for around 15 - 20 minutes over medium/low until golden brown.
Add Garlic, Ginger and Green Chilli and cook for 2 - 3 minutes.
Add Cashew Nut paste and stir through.
Pour in the tomato, tomato puree, water and add the salt. Cook over low heat for 20 minutes until oil seperates from tomato, then blend and set aside.
In a pot over medium heat, heat oil and add cumin seeds and bay leaves.
Once they sizzle, add turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder and cumin powder.
Cook for 2 minutes and then stir in cream and add the Paneer.
Add tomato paste, cook on low for 5 minutes before adding Saffron, Sugar or Honey, Dry Fenugreek and Garam Masala. Cook for 2 minutes and then remove from heat.
Serve hot with Naan.
Crush then Roast the Saffron - To make the most of Saffron, dry roast it in a pan first. This will make it easy to grind into a powder if you like. If you don't want to grind it to a powder, you can add it into the dish knowing that the flavours have been maximised by the dry roasting beforehand. Once it is added into the recipe it will be in enough warm liquid for the flavours to become even more enhanced. Less is more when it comes to Saffron so use a very small pinch because it can completely overpower the dish.
OR Soak the Saffron - Soak the threads in warm but not boiling water for 5 - 20 minutes.Then add it with the water into the recipe.
Soak Cashews beforehand - Soaking the cashews before hand makes it easier to blend them.
Tomato - Some people don't add pureed tomatoes to Shahi Paneer and it isn't traditional to do so but I like to add them. You can skip it if you prefer.
Frying the Paneer beforehand - This is an optional step and it depends on the Paneer I had brought as to whether or not I fry it. If the Paneer is super soft, I don't fry it. If I have made it at home, I don't fry it either but if it is a harder Paneer, I like to fry it in oil for a couple of minutes each side over a medium low heat.
Soaking Paneer Cubes - If you have brought a harder Paneer, soaking it in water for 10 - 15 minutes before using softens it slightly. If you then want to fry the Paneer before using it, dry it thoroughly so it doesn't splutter.
To save time, you can use ground almonds instead of pre soaking cashews and blending them.
You can fry cashews and add them as an additional garnish to the dish.
Some people prefer to use soaked Almonds in place of Cashews. If you do this, remove the skin from the Almonds before blending.
You can add fruits such as golden raisins in the dish too.
You can add Rose water and Rose Petals to the dish for a touch of Mughal luxury.