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What Is Shahi Paneer?

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  • Written By: Eugene P.
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2016
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‎Shahi paneer‭ ‬is one of the most popular cheese dishes in Northern India.‭ ‬It is a type of cheese curry consisting of the fresh cheese‭ paneer‭‬,‭ ‬onions,‭ ‬cream and a variety of spices.‭ ‬This dish is often served with some type of Indian bread such as‭ poori‭,‭ nan‭ ‬or‭ rumali roti‭.‭ ‬There are a number of similar dishes that use cheese in Indian cuisine, including‭ kadai paneer‭ ‬and‭ paneer butter masala‭.

The first step in the preparation of‭ ‬‬shahi paneer‭‬ is to make the fresh cheese‭ ‬paneer‭.‭ ‬This cheese is made by adding an acidic liquid such as vinegar or lemon juice to milk.‭ ‬The reaction causes the curds and whey to‭ ‬separate.‭ ‬The curds are gathered in‭ ‬cheesecloth,‭ ‬squeezed and then dried for several hours.‭ ‬They‭ ‬are then pressed down under a weight‭ ‬for two to three more hours,‭ ‬after which the‭ ‬paneer‭‬ is ready for use.‭

The spice base is created with a paste made of garlic,‭ ‬ginger and onion‭ ‬that‭ ‬is fried in oil.‭ ‬Spices are then added‭ ‬to the dish,‭ ‬the most common being chili powder,‭ ‬cardamom,‭ ‬turmeric and‭ garam masala‭.‭ ‬These are cooked until they become aromatic.‭ ‬Some recipes also call for the‭ paneer‭ ‬to be cubed and then browned in the pan as well.

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Cashew nuts are then added to the pan and allowed to cook slightly.‭ ‬Some variations also call for dried fruits such as raisins or currants.‭ ‬These can be added as‭ ‬well and allowed to cook.‭ ‬The ingredients are cooked until the mixture starts to become dry in the pan.

Milk is added to the pungent mixture and then reduced to create a thick sauce.‭ ‬The cubed‭ ‬paneer‭‬ is added to the reduced milk sauce.‭ ‬If the‭ ‬‬paneer‭‬ was browned in the pan beforehand,‭ ‬it will better retain its shape and texture, whereas uncooked‭ ‬‬paneer‭‬ might start to break down in the sauce.

After the‭ ‬paneer‭ has been heated through,‭ ‬the dish is completed.‭ ‬Some preparations have the‭ ‬shahi paneer‭ served in a bowl or shallow dish with a swirl of heavy cream in the center and garnished with freshly chopped cilantro.‭ ‬When served as a condiment,‭ ‬it can just be placed in a dish‭ ‬appropriate‭ ‬for dipping.

Several Indian dishes are similar to‭ ‬shahi paneer‭,‭ ‬but focus on different ingredients.‭ Paneer butter masala‭ ‬begins in the exact same style but includes butter,‭ ‬tomatoes and heavy cream to create a very rich dish.‭ ‬Kadai paneer‭‬ also begins in the same way as‭ ‬shahi paneer‭‬ but includes slices of bell peppers,‭ ‬fresh tomatoes and cumin to create dish that has a spicier taste.

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