Creamy nutty gravy with soft paneer, Safed Paneer is unlike any curries that you might have tasted. Its light and mildly spiced. perfum-y aromatic from fennel and green cardamom. Cooked with ghee, Safed Paneer is a rich curry served in several Indian restaurants. The dish is very similar and often referred to as Malai Paneer Curry, Shahi Paneer or Mughlai Paneer.
When we think of curries, it’s normal to visualize it as bright yellow or gorgeous saffron color. Safed means White and unlike all the yellow curries, safed paneer stays white.
What key ingredients are added in the Safed Paneer?
Onion – You can choose either white or red onion.
Nuts – I used almond but feel free to use cashew or mix both.
White Poppy Seeds – White poppy seeds give a lovely nutty taste to the curry and make it creamy.
Ghee – Cooking with ghee makes it rich.
Heavy Cream – Just a little amount of heavy cream is added at the end for the mild sweet taste.
Whole Spices: Green Cardamoms, Cumin Seeds and Fennel Seeds
Powdered Spices: Cumin Powder, Coriander Powder and Fennel Powder
Herb: Dried Fenugreek Leaves
How to make the Safed Paneer gravy creamy white?
There are just a few points to keep in mind:
- Don’t caramelize the onion when sautéing along with garlic, ginger and whole spices. Keep stirring while you cook the onion for a while.
- Simmer the onion with nuts (I used almond) and poppy seeds (if using) in water to soften the onion further and remove the raw flavor.
- Blend the softened onion and nuts into a smooth puree.
- When you cook the puree in ghee, makes sure you constantly stir so it doesn’t get burnt at the bottom of the pan.
We eat paneer quite often as my little one loves paneer. He is still not used to spicy food and hence, I didn’t add any heat. Adding a couple of green chilies and a good dose of cracked black pepper will definitely add a subtle heat.
This gravy does call for nuts to make it creamy but you can surely make it without the nuts. The white poppy seeds help to get the creamy texture. In addition, you can add some khoya (solid milk) to the curry for the subtle sweetness and smooth thick gravy.
ONE KEY point to remember is that paneer tends to get a little hard as it cools down at room temperature. So, do make sure that you warm the paneer curry before you serve.
Safed Paneer | Paneer in White Gravy
- 1/3 cup whole almonds
- 1 teaspoon white poppy seeds
- 14 oz 1 block paneer
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 inch fresh ginger
- 1 medium red or white onion
- Two green chili if using for heat
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1 teaspoon ghee
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- SPICES USED:
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 3 to 4 green cardamoms
- 1 and ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves
- ½ teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon fennel powder
- Soak the almonds in warm water for 15 minutes. Also, soak the poppy seeds in a separate bowl.
- Peel the skin off the almond and keep the peeled almond in a bowl to be used later.
- Roughly chop the garlic and ginger. Slice the onion into big chunks. Slice the paneer into triangles or bite size cubes.
- Place a pan at medium heat and pour the oil. Once the oil heats up, add the fennel seeds, green cardamoms and cumin seeds. Then, add the garlic and ginger and stir it around.
- Scatter the onion and season with salt. Stir around for 2 minutes. Sprinkle the powdered spices (cumin, coriander, fennel) and crushed dried fenugreek leaves. Sauté it for 2 minutes.
- Drop the peeled almonds and 1+1/3 cups of water. Let it boil and cook at medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Pour everything into a blender along with the soaked poppy seeds. Blend until it’s pureed to a smooth consistency.
- Place a pan at medium heat and add the ghee. Once it heats up, add the puree and stir it around. Add the sugar and the paneer pieces.
- Keep stirring and cook for 5 minutes. Also check for salt and add any, if required.
- Finally, pour the heavy cream and cook for 2 minutes.
- Serve warm with your choice of Indian bread or rice.