Paneer Shahi Korma

Sometimes, recipes stick inside your head. I remember reading a recipe for Paneer Shahi Korma in a magazine when I was 10 and I still remember salivating while reading it. It was a beautifully written one, with detailed descriptions, and much as I would love to remember which magazine it was, I cannot. Over the years, the recipe changed, and I kept adding and removing certain items, till I felt it was perfect.

This dish needs good quality paneer. I generally get the stuff from a local sweet shop, who store soft paneer. I generally get 300 gm. to feed four people, but, you can modify the amount, depending on how generous you feel. I tend to cut it into half-inch cubes, fry in a little bit of oil till they are lightly golden around the edges (about 2 teaspoon of oil in a nonstick pan), and then stick them in a bowl of hot water, to keep them soft.

Paneer Cooked in a Royal Korma Gravy 

Then I turn to the onions. About 150 gm. of onions are browned in 75-80 ml. refined oil, with a pinch of salt and sugar, till they are crisp and golden brown. Then, carefully removing the cooked onions from the oil, spread them out on a plate to cool them. Once cooled, crush three-fourth of the fried onions with 1-inch piece of ginger, 5-6 cloves of garlic, and a little bit of water. The result should be a fine paste.

In the oil that remained in the pan, fry 8-10 cashews, broken into pieces, 15-20 raisins, and a couple of red chillies. Remove, and reserve with the rest of the fried onions.

To the same oil, add a single bay leaf, 2 green cardamoms, a stick of cinnamon, and 3-4 cloves, bashed mildly to release their beautiful oils. Let this become fragrant while frying, and then tip in the fried onion paste. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the oil starts to separate from the paste. Drop the temperature to a simmer, add 2-3 tablespoon beaten curd, stir well to combine, and cook till the oil separates, mixing all the time.

Indian Cottage Cheese Gravy 

In a bowl, mix 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1/2 teaspoon kashmiri chilli powder or paprika, 1 teaspoon garam masala powder, 1/2 teaspoon amchoor or dry mango powder, 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder, and 4-5 tablespoons of water. The paste will be thin and runny. Add this to the curd-onion mixture, stir and fry till the water mostly evaporates.

Make a paste of 1 teaspoon poppy seeds, 10-12 whole cashews, and 1 tablespoon melon seeds (charmagaz) with some water. The paste should be very smooth. Mix this well and then throw in a handful of peas if you like, and let this cook till the peas are halfway done. At this point, drop in the pieces of paneer, a cup of the soaking water, and then cover and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the peas are quite soft.

Dice a capsicum, and an onion, and separate the layers of the onion. In a pan, add a tablespoon of oil, throw in the capsicum and onion, and stir fry over high heat for 2-3 minutes, or until they are no longer raw. Add 2-3 whole green chillies, stir fry for another minute, and then add this to the paneer. Stir well, reduce the gravy over high heat till it is not too runny, and then add salt and sugar to taste. Before serving, top with the fried onions, cashews, chillies and raisins you kept reserved. I prefer serving it with a simple peas pulao or plain rotis, but feel free to make your own combinations while eating.

Indian Paneer Vegetarian Dish

Written by Poorna Banerjee

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