Cooking my first Indian meal (Shahi Paneer and from-scratch chapatis)

shahipaneer
Shahi Paneer

Yesterday, I cooked my first real Indian meal: Shahi Paneer, Basmati Rice and Chapatis from scratch!

Shahi Paneer is an Indian preparation of paneer (cottage cheese cubes) in a thick sauce (Indians call it gravy) made up of cream, tomatoes and spices. It is a staple in North India. Shahi is the Indo-Persian term for royal (in reference to the Mughal court).

To be honest, I bought the Shahi Paneer spice mix, rather than making my own, but it was still some work to fry the paneer in ghee (also first time using ghee: clarified butter), and cook the paneer in the spices, and cashews and milk and yogurt.

Especially hard because here in India, they don’t measure anything for cooking. In the US I used to use measuring spoons and measuring cups all the time. Here, they wing it. So even when I follow a recipe, I have to wing it.

Shahi paneer is made with cream (instead of yogurt) but I simply could not find cream anywhere, and my Indian friends don’t know what is it. So weird.

I am most proud for the chapatis (Indian flatbread). I went to a small shop next door and bought chapati whole-wheat flour and even used the hindi word for it: atta.

Then, I made chapatis from scratch. Shekhar arrived to our house when I was cooking, so he helped me pan-fry the chapatis.

For making the chapatis, I actually got my recipe info from about.com

I used about a cup of atta (whole wheat flour), mixed with about 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and added water to make the dough. Then added about a tbsp of olive oil (my oil of preference), and kneaded the dough until I though it was ready.

chapatis

Then I made small balls and covered them in flour.

chapatis1

Then I rolled them with my new Indian chakla (board) and belan (rolling pin) to a thickness I thought was right. Most of my cooking was instinctual.

paneer

Then I “fried” the chapatis on a pan, with a bit of peanut oil.

firstchapati
Shekhar holding my very first chapati.
chapatis7
My first batch of chapatis.

shahi paneer

On the left is the store bought Shahi Paneer spice paste which I fried for a minute with crushed raw cashews (which I decided to add on my own). On the right I fried a package of Amul frozen paneer in some ghee, until a bit browned.

paneerrice

Then added about a cup of milk and about 3tbsp of yogurt (dahi), mixed well, and then added the paneer and fried some leftover basmati rice.

firstindianmeal
My first Indian meal is born. Shahi paneer, basmati rice, and chapatis.

It was quite an achievement especially because it turned out delicious and the chapatis were a challenge.

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9 thoughts on “Cooking my first Indian meal (Shahi Paneer and from-scratch chapatis)

  1. A bit late but…
    Normally in Punjab we just use atta and water, no oil. Also the dough should be slightly stiffer; easier to make them round then.
    Also, normal chapatis are just toasted, not fried. They actually cook through better that way. Put chappati on tawa until the colour changes a bit on the side away from the heat, flip over until it starts to puff up with the help of a tea-towel, and flip over until it gets cooked. Best to do it on medium high rather than high heat so it doesn’t burn
    Even paranthas it is better to cook them through first like this and then fry them with a little oil. That is the trick for lighter, unstodgy rotis and paranthas!

  2. Ohh this is okie.. and not bad at all with respect to shape .. I started to make round shaped chapatis after discontinued effort of many years.. ha ha ha
    -CD

    1. Thank you! I didn’t post the recipe because the complete meal wasn’t from scratch and it wasn’t my own recipe. But I think I will edit this post to include the recipe, and I will include the recipes from now on.

      M

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