Shahi Paneer – Indian Cottage Cheese In Tomato Gravy

by | Feb 3, 2011 | 13 comments


Shahi Paneer


In Indian cuisine, when you stir fry vegetables and/or meat and/or cottage cheese with spices and herbs, the resulting dish is called a sabji or subji. A simple sabji accompanied by daal (lentils) and roti (bread) forms a satisfying meal in most households in India on most days. When the stir fry dish is extended and allowed to simmer in a curry base (usually made up of pureed onions, tomatoes and cream or yogurt), the sabji becomes a curry. A casserole or kadai (Indian wok) is the most suited vessel of choice to cook a sabji or a curry.

After laying to rest my 6 year old, highly abused casseroles; I recently bought a beautiful Cuisinart casserole. I also bought a copper bottomed kadai from my recent trip to the Sydney Fish markets. I have been using both for cooking fragrant Indian curries both dry and wet.


Shahi Paneer In A Kadai


Today I am going to share with a much loved recipe that I have been cooking for over 10 years. It is called Shahi Paneer which loosely translated in Indian means Royal Cottage Cheese. It is a simple recipe that cooks fast and something that you won’t usually find in Indian restaurants. My original recipe called for  a good amount of chili but lately I have been omitting that because my boys love it that way. I also had a fresh supply of bay leaves plucked from my garden earlier that day.


Paneer can be found in the supermarket cheese section. Homemade paneer can also be found in the chilled section of most Indian grocery stores. I use the Amul brand when I can’t find fresh paneer. It is a frozen pack of paneer cubes. The non-frozen fresh paneer I like to use is usually a large firm packaged slab that I can cut into cubes of desired sizes. When I am not so pressed for time, I like to make my own paneer at home. It is extremely simple and not very daunting. Prerna from Indian Simmer recently posted a process for making paneer at home.


Shahi Paneer - Indian Style Cottage Cheese In Rich Tomato Gravy

Shahi paneer And Fresh Bay Leaves


Shahi Paneer - Cook Republic


Print Recipe Rate / Comment
Course // Dinner
Cuisine // Gluten Free, Indian, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 500 g paneer, cottage cheese cut into large cubes
  • 2 tablespoon ghee or butter
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 large red tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 inch piece ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 green chili, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1-2 small pieces of cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup/sauce
  • 1/3 cup cooking cream
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon raw sugar


  • Heat ghee/butter in a casserole or kadai over medium heat. Add onions and saute till golden.
  • Add ginger, tomatoes, bay leaf, green chili and cinnamon. Cook on low heat, stirring constantly for 7-8 minutes.
  • Add water, cardamom, turmeric, cumin, chili powder, garam masala and ketchup. Allow to simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. (At this point, the curry can be pureed into a smooth sauce using a hand blender. I chose to leave the curry chunky and not blend it).
  • Add the paneer cubes and cream. Season with salt and add sugar. Cover with lid and simmer on low heat for approximately 8-10 minutes.
  • Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves and serve with steamed rice or roti.


Paneer is known as Indian Cottage Cheese. The cottage cheese that you will find in the supermarket stocked along with sour cream and cream cheese is usually a crumbly, soft version that is only used in baking. The same goes for ricotta cheese. When you want to make an Indian curry, look for the cottage cheese in the cheese section along with haloumi and fetta cheese slabs. The cottage cheese that you will find in vaccuum sealed packeted slabs is the one you want to use in this recipe. The firmness of this cottage cheese makes it easy to cut and handle, like baked ricotta cheese.
Paneer can be deep fried before adding to a curry for a richer taste. This is not always the healthiest of options, but offers you the freedom to stir freely and mix things well. If paneer is not deep fried, it is more delicate and prone to crumbling, hence in the recipe above, it is added right at the end of the cooking process and is not stirred until it is time to serve (as you can see from the pictures, the cream is still as it was poured before simmering).
Did you make my recipe?I'd love to hear how you went! Tag me on Instagram @cookrepublic




Find More Recipes By CategoryIndian Main Course Vegetarian



I love creating easy, vibrant, fresh, everyday recipes and taking gorgeous photos of the food I cook. I have been blogging for 15 years and I have also written a book with over 100 new recipes. If you make a recipe from the blog, Tag @cookrepublic on Instagram. I would love to see!


  1. Gaby

    That dish looks absolutely delicious! I’ll try your recipe ASAP, thanks!

  2. Vegolicious

    Your curry looks absolutely delicious. I can see why you’ve been making it for so long. Beautiful photography too.

    I’d love for your to submit them to Vegolicious, a vegetarian food photo gallery where readers can browse beautiful photos to discover new recipes and wonderful blogs. If you would like to share this recipe with our readers please submit a photo along with a link to this post.

  3. Helen (grabyourfork)

    I love paneer. I keep meaning to attempt to make my own one day. I usually order the spinach version in restaurants but I like the sound of this tomato gravy!

  4. Ellie (Almost Bourdain)

    I love palak paneer and I am sure I will love this tomatoey version. Your dish looks so delicious!

  5. anushruti

    I’m so happy to discover your space here. I love paneer and can’t live without it!

  6. rebecca

    this looks great i need to cook more with paneer

  7. Eden

    Just wanted to say that regular cottage cheese is not a substitute for paneer (Indian cheese). Cottage cheese is too granular and cannot hold its form; if you can’t find paneer use either ricotta cheese or extra-firm tofu.

    • Sneh

      Eden, you are probably right. I must add that the cottage cheese must be the “slab” style packet and not the one in a plastic container. It is easier to slice and handle if it is in a block shape. Ricotta cheese has the same problem. If it comes in a plastic container, it is probably all crumbly and only best suited for baking. The ricotta cheese you would want to use for this recipe would be the “baked” block (either circular or rectangular) style. Tofu just won’t do justice to this dish and tastes nothing like “paneer”, it has a tendency to not absorb the curry at all and soften a bit like “paneer” does.

  8. Eden

    One more thing… I guess you have to fry the cheese before adding it to the sauce, because all of it melted and I ended up with a soupy mess. I have to say I’m disappointed with this recipe… I’m a novice cook, but if given clear directions my food usually turns out great. I originally bought cottage cheese as the recipe indicates only to find out that it was not a substitute for paneer at all. I didn’t know this because this is the first time I’ve made Indian food. I would not make recipes from this website again for fear of other important steps/facts being omitted. =(

    • Sneh

      Eden, if you are using authentic “paneer” (like I have in this recipe), it is quite firm and frying it, is a matter of choice. For a richer more indulgent taste, frying is great. But if you make this more regularly, leaving the paneer as is also gives a lighter nicer flavor.

      I am sorry it didn’t turn out well for you. Paneer can be quite tricky to cook with if it doesn’t have a firm consistency. I also try out recipes from cookbooks and other sites that don’t turn out as I expected. I find trial and error is the best teacher.

  9. Pawan

    I just made this today and my husband loves it! I think it’ll be going on high rotation in our household.

    • Sneh

      Amazing! Thank you! Glad you guys loved it. x



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