Best Vegetarian Shahi Paneer Recipe

Looking to learn how to make the best homemade vegetarian Shahi Paneer Recipe?

We’ve traveled throughout India and love to recreate our favourite dishes at home. Popular Indian dishes like Shahi Paneer are a quick and affordable vegetarian and gluten free dinner idea.

Our Shahi Paneer recipe takes less than an hour to prepare. The creamy Indian cottage cheese curry is best served with basmati rice or naan bread.

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Travel to India by Cooking Our Easy Shahi Paneer Recipe

I love traveling through Asia. My first visit to Asia had me living in South Korea for a year as a teacher and it’s where I was first introduced to fermented vegetables like kimchi.

After my contract ended in Seoul I travelled throughout Asia for 6 months, visiting the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, The Maldives and India.

I spent over a month traveling through India. I started in the capital, eating my way through the bustling markets and fine dining restaurants in Delhi. I then embarked on a magical weekend getaway to awe-inspiring Taj Mahal in Agra. In India’s north you’ll find plenty of barbecue as wheat based side dishes like scorched naan bread.

For the second half of my Indian adventured I explored the southern state of Kerala. The south is famous for its seafood, coconut, tropical fruits and rice based side dishes like crispy dosa. The colonial capital of Cochin was formerly run by the Portuguese. It’s also one of the only places in India you can find beef on a menu.

My India trip came to a close in the Bollywood capital, bustling and cosmopolitan Mumbai. The city is famous for its specialty street foods and fine dining restaurants at opulent luxury hotels. The Taj Mahal Palace in particular serves one of the world’s most famous afternoon teas.

What I found most fascinating is India’s distinct regional food cultures. Much like the regional cuisines found in France, Germany, Italy or Spain, each city in India had its own local speciality.

Locals in Mumbai enjoy a homemade Shahi Paneer recipe at a colourful wedding.
Locals in Mumbai enjoy a homemade Shahi Paneer recipe at a colourful wedding.

Where To Eat Shahi Paneer

If you live in a large city in Canada or America you’ll likely have access to a local Indian restaurants that serve their own tried, tested and true Shahi Paneer recipe.

Haven’t traveled to India before? It may be helpful to first sample Shahi Paneer at a local Indian restaurant to better understand how the dish is served. You can also assess the thickness of the Shahi Paneer recipe and sample the correct texture before trying to make it at home from scratch.

In Toronto, popular Indian restaurants that may serve Shahi Paneer include Udupi Palace, Lahore Tikka House or Kothur Indian Cuisine.

Ingredients you'll need to make our vegetarian Shahi Paneer recipe.
Ingredients you’ll need to make our vegetarian Shahi Paneer recipe.

What is Shahi Paneer?

Shahi Paneer is a preparation of Indian cottage cheese consisting of a thick gravy of yogurt, cream, nuts and Indian spices. Some Shahi Paneer recipes include tomatoes so the sauce can appear rose red. Many variations of Shahi Paneer can be enjoyed across India, tweaked based on regional and family preferences.

Originating with the creamy delicacies of Mughlai cuisine (hence the term “shahi”, in reference to the royal title of Shahanshah in ancient Mughal India), this dish is prepared by emulsifying onions, ground cashews and almonds, green cardamom pods, ghee and cream into a curry, with the addition of paneer cubes and a variety of spices.

Similar Indian dishes include paneer butter masala and kadai paneer. The subtle difference between paneer butter masala and shahi paneer is that more whole spices are used in paneer butter masala, whereas shahi paneer has a sweeter taste.

Our Shahi Paneer recipe is vegetarian and gluten free.

Begin preparing our Shahi Paneer recipe by cooking almonds, cashews, onion and cardamom in water.
Begin preparing our Shahi Paneer recipe by cooking almonds, cashews, onion and cardamom in water.

What To Eat With Shahi Paneer

The word paneer is derived from the Persian word for cheese, and shahi is the term for royal, in reference to the Imperial Court of the Mughal Empire. If you ever see “shahi” described on an Indian menu it harks to decadent dishes enjoyed by royalty.

Shahi Paneer is most commonly eaten with traditional Indian flat-breads like roti, naan or rice. If you’re preparing a vegetarian Indian feast we suggest also serving your favourite sautéed vegetables or spicy dahls.

If you’re dining with meat and seafood lovers, try including this vegetarian dish on your menu alongside tandoori chicken and Tikka Masala shrimp. I guarantee your guests will be licking the Shahi Paneer dish with their fingers to enjoy every last drop!

Add cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf and mix of Indian spices to puréed nut and onion mixture.
Add cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf and mix of Indian spices to puréed nut and onion mixture.

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Shahi Paneer Recipe: Flavour with yogurt, cream and aromatic saffron.
Shahi Paneer Recipe: Flavour with yogurt, cream and aromatic saffron.

Tips For Making This Shahi Paneer Recipe

Ready to cook our homemade Shahi Paneer recipe? We suggest reading the recipe directions in detail to ensure you understand the step by step process.

The total time to make our Shahi Paneer recipe is less than an hour. You can easily prepare the vegetarian dish in advance to make entertaining easy. Prepare the sauce in the morning or afternoon and simply add the cubes of paneer and warm up for 2-3 minutes in the sauce before serving. Feel free to add a little water or vegetable stock to the gravy when reheating to ensure it is the desired thickness.

Before cooking the Shahi Paneer we suggest setting the table with small bowls filled with creamy yogurt, sweet chutney, fresh coriander and sliced naan bread or roti.

You can easily purchase prepared paneer at your local Indian market or grocery store (which is typically sold near tofu as it’s refrigerated). If you love to prepare dishes from scratch, try making homemade paneer, it’s surprisingly easy. All you need is whole milk, lemon juice or vinegar, cheese cloth and a large bowl.

Making homemade paneer is a great lesson for kids. It feels like a science experiment as they watch the casein in the milk coagulate into a fresh cheese. It’s a fun activity for families looking to roll up their sleeves and enjoy a hands on cooking experience.

Finish our Shahi Paneer recipe by adding cubes of Indian cottage cheese.
Finish our Shahi Paneer recipe by adding cubes of Indian cottage cheese.

How To Make Authentic Shahi Paneer

  1. Start by gently simmering onion, garlic, ginger, green cardamom, chilies, cashews and almonds in water to soften. Once cooled blend in a food processor until fully combined and set aside.
  2. Reheat the pan over medium heat and add oil, ghee, cinnamon, bay leaf and cloves. Sizzle until fragrant for one minute.
  3. Stir in the prepared onion-nut paste and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add coriander powder, red chili powder, garam masala, sugar, salt, cardamom powder and black pepper powder. Remove pan from heat and add yogurt, being sure to whisk continuously so it doesn’t curdle.
  5. Add remaining water and add a pinch of saffron. Let the Shahi Paneer simmer for 5 to 6 minutes then add cream and simmer until fully combined.
  6. Add the cubes of paneer moments before you want to serve your guests. Simmer for a short 3 minutes then sprinkle with cardamom powder and saffron.
Serve vegetarian Shahi Paneer with naan or basmati rice.
Serve vegetarian Shahi Paneer with naan or basmati rice.

Best Vegetarian Shahi Paneer Recipe

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Vegetarian Shahi Paneer

Looking for the best homemade vegetarian Shahi Paneer recipe? This creamy vegetarian and gluten free Indian dish is best served with naan or basmati rice.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, Indian
Keyword: Indian Curry, Paneer Recipe, Shahi Paneer, Vegetarian Curry, Vegetarian Shahi Paneer
Servings: 4
Calories: 224kcal

Equipment

  • Frying pan
  • blender
  • spatula
  • measuring spoons
  • measuring cups

Ingredients

  • 1 Medium Spanish onion diced
  • 5 Garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 inch Fresh ginger chopped
  • 5 Whole Green Cardamom
  • 2 Green Chili chopped
  • 10 Cashews
  • 10 Almonds
  • 3 cups Water
  • 1 tbsp Ghee
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 3 Whole cloves
  • 1 tsp Coriander powder
  • 1/8 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1/8 tsp Cardamom powder
  • 1/8 tsp Black pepper
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • 225 grams Paneer cut into cubes
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream

Instructions

  • Place a large fry pan over medium high heat and add onion, garlic, ginger, green cardamom, green chilies, cashews and almonds. Add 2 cups of water. Let boil for 15-20 minutes.
  • Once cooled transfer the ingredients to a blender. Blend until it has formed a smooth paste. Set aside.`
  • Cut the paneer into cubes. Set aside.
  • Reheat the pan over medium heat. Once hot, add oil and ghee and then cinnamon stick, bay leaf and cloves. Sizzle the spices for few seconds until fragrant.
  • Stir in the prepared onion-nut paste and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Add coriander powder, red chili powder, garam masala, sugar, salt, cardamom powder and black pepper powder. Stir the spices and cook for 1 minute.
  • Remove pan from heat and add yogurt, being sure to whisk continuously so it doesn't curdle.
  • Add remaining water to the pan and add a pinch of saffron. Let the Shahi Paneer simmer for 5 to 6 minutes then add cream and simmer until fully combined.
  • Add the paneer moments before you want to serve your guests. Simmer for a short 3 minutes then sprinkle with cardamom powder and saffron.
  • Serve Vegetarian Shahi Paneer with naan or basmati rice!

Nutrition

Calories: 224kcal | Carbohydrates: 18.3g | Protein: 12.5g | Fat: 13.8g | Saturated Fat: 5.5g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 383mg | Potassium: 321mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7.8g | Calcium: 143mg | Iron: 1mg

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