Shahi Paneer

Somebody please explain to me what’s with all the Halloween themed dress up parties here in India, spooky deserts and special Halloween themed menus at restaurants. I am at a loss here. I understand Indians living abroad dressing up their kids and showcasing for us on facebook. They’ve got to get along. But here in India? Why ya?
There is only so much pumpkin spice anybody can take.
And you guys do know we get pumpkin all year round around here. Does Kasi Halwa ring any bell?
Shahi paneer, Malai paneer 

I am not on the beef banning side, mind you, in case you start to think I am a saffron propagandist.
I am all for embracing other cultures but I really wish we were more aware of our own rituals and festivals. 

Embrace local. Take pride. Learn about them or they may be lost forever until Americans patent them and National geographic makes a documentary.
Did you know about the Maasana Kollai festival? I bet 8 out of 10 wouldn’t know. It is an ancient Tamil ritual that is at once scary and fascinating.

Dr. Lakshmi, our family friend often recounted tales of how she’d stay up all night during Shivaratri playing Dhaaya kattai with her sisters and cousins. It sounded like fun but I have never stayed up during Shivaratri. I don’t stay up for New year’s eve either. I generally don’t stay up.

Shahi paneer, Malai paneer

When I was a little girl, still in school, we once went to the beach during Chitra-pournami in a huge group of family and friends with a big picnic hamper of lemon rice, tamarind rice, curd rice, vadam, mor milagai and maavadu. It was a fun outing.

I wish I’d stayed up for shivaratri, I’d woken up for Vaikunta yegadesi, accompanied my mother for the golu round-ups and learnt to make adhirasam from Ammama. I wish I’d slept less. 
You know what I’ve been making lately?
I didn’t make pumpkin spice anything, you’d know.
Bread toast and bulls eye. I can’t seem to tire of it, ever. I can safely say I’ve mastered it.
One of the days, I made Shahi paneer along with mushroom pulav for Hasini’s lunch. I’ve unknowingly reared a paneer fiend here. The little girl will order paneer anything anywhere anyday. So paneer finds its way into our menu at least once every week. This is a Sanjeev kapoor’s version of Shahi paneer, minus the yogurt and cardamom powder, plus my favourite kasoori methi and butter. This Shahi paneer is rich, creamy and mildly spiced, perfect for special occasions too.

Shahi paneer, malai paneer

Shahi Paneer
Serves 4
Luscious Creamy paneer curry!
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
  1. Paneer/Cottage cheese – 200 gm cut into cubes
  2. Onion – 2 medium sized, chopped roughly
  3. Green chillies – 3 slit lengthwise
  4. Cashews – a handful soaked in ½ cup milk for about 15 minutes
  5. Ginger-garlic paste – ¾ tsp
  6. Whole peppercorns – ¼ tsp
  7. Cinnamon stick – 2 inch piece
  8. Cloves – 2
  9. Kasoori methi – 1-1/2 tsp crushed between fingers
  10. Fresh cream – ½ cup
  11. Butter – 2 tbsp
  12. Salt to taste
  1. Heat a thick bottomed pan. Pour in about ½ a cup of water. Throw in the roughly chopped onions and let the water boil away till the onions are softened and all the water has dried up. Switch off. Let boiled onions cool down completely. Grind along with ginger to a fine paste. Set aside.
  2. Grind soaked cashews and milk to a fine paste. Set aside.
  3. To the same pan, add butter and wait for it to melt. Then add the whole peppercorns, cloves and cinnamon stick. When they turn fragrant, add the ginger garlic paste and green chillies and fry for a couple of minutes.
  4. Scoop in the onion paste, pour some water and stir it all in. Let the mixture come to a boil. Turn heat down to low, cover and cook for about 7-10 minutes checking in between to make sure the mixture doesn’t burn.
  5. Stir in the cashew paste. Pour in the fresh cream. Stir it all up. Add salt. Taste and adjust seasoning. Keep heat down low.
  6. When the mixture comes to a boil, drop in the paneer cubes and sprinkle a generous helping of kasoori methi. Switch off after a minute. Serve hot with rotis or rice.
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