Shahi means royal, or fit for a king. Paneer definitely gets the royal treatment in this delicately spiced and decadently rich dish. Ground cashews and heavy cream make this velvety gravy resplendent and definitely regal. The paneer is left soft and uncooked in the gravy creating a smooth and sumptuous blend of flavors and textures.
I don't want to hear any whining or moaning about the use of heavy cream and ghee in this dish. This dish is for a vizier, sultan, shah, caliph, maharaja, maharani, emperor, empress, or even a khan. The gravy should be as satiny and silky as if it were made upon the finest looms of Benares! (If you really can't handle all this heavy cream and cashews I'd substitute coconut milk and coconut cream.)
1 C onions, ground to fine paste
1/3 C ghee or cooking oil
1 tsp salt
1 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS ginger/adrak paste
2 tej patta/cassia leaves
1/2 C heavy cream (or coconut milk)
8 oz paneer, cut into 1&1/2 inch cubes
Grind to smooth paste for masala gravy:
1/3 C ground cashews (or 1/4 C coconut cream)
1/2 C yogurt/dahi
2 tomatoes, chopped roughly
2 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1 tsp cayenne plus 1 tsp paprika)
1 tsp cumin/jeera, ground
1 tsp coriander/dhania, ground
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves/kasoori methi
3 green cardamoms
1/4 tsp turmeric/haldi
1 tsp salt
Here's what to do:
1) Grind onions to smooth paste in mixie, food processor or blender. Heat oil or ghee in pressure cooker, kadhai, or heavy bottomed skillet. Fry onion paste and 1 tsp salt until beginning to brown, this should take 9 to 10 minutes. Stir frequently. If onions begin to stick or scorch add 1 TBS oil and reduce heat. Add garlic, ginger, and cassia leaves/tej patta, stir well and fry for 3 minutes more.
|The mixie grinds onions!|
|This is what the onions should look like right before you put the cassia leaves/tej patta.|
|Ready to seal up the pressure cooker.|
|This is what the masala gravy should look like before you add the cream & paneer.|
See how the oil has separated and the gravy has thickened & pulls away from the pan.
If you don't want to use the 1/3 C cashews substitute 1/4 C coconut cream. If you don't want to use the 1/2 C heavy cream substitute 1/2 C coconut milk. Cream and cashews can be hard to find in Nepal sometimes so I've made this with coconut cream and milk and it is just as yummy.
This is a posh dish that doesn't reheat well with the paneer in it. If you want to make this dish ahead of time for a dinner party or a special occasion, just make the sauce without stirring in the paneer. Then right before serving bring the sauce to a simmer over low heat and stir in the paneer.