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  • Shahi Paneer
    Creamy Spiced Homemade Cheese

    YIELD: 7 CUPS / 1.7 L INCLUDING THE PANEER
    TOOLS: You’ll need a food processor; 4 small mixing bowls; a heavy-bottomed, 4-quart / 4-L sauté pan; and a blender.
    VEGANIZE IT! Easily make this recipe vegan by substituting Baked Tofu for the Paneer and plain, unsweetened soy or coconut yogurt for the dairy.

    When I think of making a vegetarian treat for the whole family—this dish is a must. It’s a classic example of Mughlai cuisine—rich from the cashews, spices, and homemade cheese—a real treat, and one that fits the name. Shahi means royalty, which your guests will feel like when you serve them this dish.

    • 1 medium yellow or red onion, coarsely chopped
    • 1 (2-inch / 5-cm) piece ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
    • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
    • 1 large tomato, coarsely chopped
    • 2 heaping tablespoons raw, unsalted cashews
    • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons /120 mL water (plus more, if needed), divided
    • 3 tablespoons /45 mL ghee or vegetable oil
    • ½ teaspoon hing (asafetida)
    • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
    • 3 whole cloves
    • 3 cassia or bay leaves
    • 3 whole black peppercorns
    • 2 green cardamom pods
    • 1 (3-inch / 8-cm) stick cinnamon
    • 1 tablespoon Garam Masala
    • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
    • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
    • 1 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne pepper
    • 2 teaspoons unsmoked paprika
    • ¾ cup /180 mL plain, unsweetened yogurt
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1–3 fresh Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed and finely chopped
    • 2 cups /600 g Paneer
    • 1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
    • Brown or white basmati rice, Roti, or Naan, for serving
    1. In the bowl of a food processor, grind the onion into a watery paste. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and set aside. No need to clean the food processor bowl in between. Add the ginger and garlic to the food processor bowl and grind into a paste. Transfer to a second small mixing bowl and set aside. Again, no need to clean. Add the tomato to the food processor bowl and grind into a watery paste. Transfer to a third small mixing bowl and set aside. Again, no need to clean. Add the cashews and 2 tablespoons of the water to the food processor bowl and grind into a paste. Transfer to a fourth small mixing bowl and set aside.
    2. In a heavy-bottomed, 4-quart / 4-L sauté pan over medium–high heat, warm the ghee. Add the hing, cumin seeds, cloves, cassia leaves, peppercorns, cardamom, and cinnamon and cook for 40 seconds, until the cumin seeds sizzle and turn reddish-brown and the mixture becomes aromatic. Be careful not to cook the spices too long, as they will burn.
    3. Add the onion paste from Step 1 to the sauté pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes, until the onion is slightly browned. Add the ginger paste from Step 1 and cook for 1 minute. Add the ground tomato from Step 1 and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the cashew paste from Step 1 and cook for 1 minute.
    4. Add the Garam Masala, coriander, turmeric, red chile powder, and paprika to the sauté pan and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes.
    5. Reduce the heat to low and add the remaining ½ cup / 120 mL of the water, the yogurt, the salt, and the fresh chiles to the sauté pan. Simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until the ingredients come together and separate slightly from the oil. You can always add a little more water if the mixture seems too thick, but you don’t want it to be too watery either. Exercise caution.
    6. Remove the whole spices. I typically pull out all the big stuff and leave the little spices like cloves and peppercorns in to be ground down. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
    7. Transfer the contents of the sauté pan to a blender. Blend until smooth. Return to the sauté pan and return the pan to medium–high heat.
    8. Add the Paneer to the sauté pan and cook for 4 minutes, until just heated through. Garnish with the cilantro and serve immediately with the brown or white basmati rice, Roti, or Naan.

Indian For Everyone by Anupy Singla. Copyright © 2014 Anupy Singla. Published by Agate Publishing. All rights reserved.

© 2016 Alta Editions LLC.