Paneer Mughlai / Indian Cottage Cheese in a Rich Curry made with Nuts (with Vegan Options)

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Mughlai is a cuisine which developed in India but was majorly influenced by Persian and Afghani style of cooking. Mughals traveled to India in 16th century for trade and commerce initially but later they conquered and ruled Northern parts of India for almost 2 centuries. Not to say, the food, language and culture was so intricately imbibed in the North Indian life style that it is very evident till now, rather should I say, it’s one.

Let’s learn a word from Urdu today, TEHZEEB, pronounced as ‘teh-zeeb’, which is mainly the value system. For example, a kid who behaves kindly and politely, would be appreciated as “This is his Tehzeeb (values), that he is so kind and polite”. Okay! So much for the word learning today :).

Mughlai cuisine is quintessentially a very rich cuisine. Lots of nuts and dry fruits are used along worth milk, cream, butter and saffron. Freshly ground spices are used to give it an unmatchable aroma. If you know me, I always like to simplify the recipes for everybody’s use. I read quite a lot of recipes and then concluded mine but carefully. This is the simplest you can enjoy and believe me not difficult at all! Will soon post another type of bread that can be used with it called Lachcha Parantha.

It is creamy. It is rich. And the good news is that it can totally be made Vegan for my dear vegan friends :). I am going to mention the vegan options along side under the ingredients.

Let’s get started now. All set?

Ingredients :

Oil : 1 tbsp

Poppy seeds : 1 tbsp, soaked overnight in 1tbsp of water

Cashews : 2 tbsp, soaked overnight in 2 tbsp of water

Almonds : 2 tbsp soaked overnight in 2 tbsp of water and then peeled

Paneer : 400 gms, cut in small triangles or thin cubes/layers. Use Extra firm Tofu. Home made paneer which is Indian cottage cheese, the recipe is here

Onion : 1 small or 1/2 cup

Ginger : 1 small head

Garlic : 3 pods

Sugar : 1/2 tsp

Saffron : 4-5 strands soaked in 1 tbsp milk, use plant based like soy or almond, don’t worry if you don’t have any. You can skip it if you want.

Milk low fat : 1 cup. Use soy or Almond milk, unsweetened if going for vegan choice.

Cinnamon stick : 1 small

Star Anise : 1, optional. Adds nice aroma and flavor or use 2-3 green cardamom pods

Turmeric powder : 1/2 tsp

Red chili powder :1/2 tsp

Garam Masala : 1&1/2 tsp. For home made spice mix, click here

Salt : to taste

Kasoori Methi : 1/2 tsp, crushed (optional)

Water : 1 cup

Kitchen Equipment Required : Blender and Grinder, cooking pan

Method :

Step 1 :
Take your grinder. Add soaked poppy seeds, cashews and peeled almonds. Make a paste with 1/4 cup water.

Step 2 :
Take your blender. Add onions, garlic and ginger. Make a paste out of it with 1/4 cup water.

Step 3 :
Prepping the Paneer/Tofu : Pan grill the paneer slices, lightly with almost no oil OR bake them in preheated oven at 375*f for about 8-10 minutes, turning them mid way for even cooking. Make sure, they are not hard but just slightly done.

Step 4 :
Cooking the Curry

Heat oil in pan. Add cinnamon stick and star anise or cardamom if you are using it. Stir for few seconds. Now add onion paste to the hot oil. Bring the heat to lower medium, and cook the onion paste till slightly brown.


Add the nuts paste to the browned onion paste. Top with sugar, garam masala, turmeric, red chili powder now.


Add milk or plant based milk now along with salt. Add the soaked saffron too. Stir well. Get a quick lick form the side and adjust the seasonings and spices as in garam masala or salt or red chili powder at this point, to your personal taste. Some like it mild and some like it hot. Add water. Cover and cook the curry for 10 minutes till the flavors come together. It might look runny at this moment but the cooking will thicken it since nuts soak up a lot of water.


Now add prepared Paneer pieces or Tofu pieces. Gently mix the curry and paneer/tofu pieces together. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes more.


You will see the curry is coming together and that’s it :).


Few other Options besides Paneer : you may use grilled baby potatoes, pan grilled or oven baked Cauliflower, mixed vegetables, any kind of koftas or kebabs and even boiled eggs.

Some accompaniment suggestions : this can be eaten with Jeera rice , Naan or any kind of bread.

This is my treat to all the party people this weekend at Angie’s Fiesta Friday. Hope to see some old buddies and some new warm souls tonight at Angie’s.


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  1. Because of this post, I was inspired to make some paneer. It turned out better than ever. It has been sitting in my fridge waiting for me to make this recipe, which I have done this evening. It is really quite a straightforward recipe – the spices give it a complexity with little effort. I made a couple of minor changes, but it turned out really well. I just added a few scapes on top of the sauce in the last few minutes for a green side dish. Thanks so much for this recipe. I will make it again.

  2. Looks delicious. Thinking about it I don’t think I’ve ever had paneer, which even just saying it sounds ludicrous! I will have to go remedy that as soon as possible 🙂

  3. I thought we agreed that you were to open an Indian bistro with an attached art gallery? And this dish should be on the daily special, every day! I’m not familiar with Mughlai cuisine, but if this is representative of it, then I’m sold! Thanks for teaching us about tehzeeb! 🙂

  4. Sonal, this paneer mughlai looks delicious. So many spices and delicious ingredients. I also liked learning the Urdu word Tehzeeb today. Thanks!

  5. Sonal, there is something magical about your posts, because I can actually smell the gorgeous fragrances of your recipes coming through my computer!! This perfume of this beautiful recipe is making my head spin! 🙂

    1. Arvind ji, my posts are mostly very healthy but once in a while I cook for indulgence. As you said,if you can’t have the whole bowl, you can have a small bite at least :). You may cook it by skipping poppy seeds and cashews also but won’t taste same.

  6. I was waiting for the recipe since you first posted the pics, Sonal; and here it is finally. 🙂 it looks so creamy and delicious. As for your “get a quick lick from the side”, my problem is that I keep slurping and soon the gravy will be over….. 🙁 🙂 🙂

    1. The good news is Aruna, the gravy is so thick, after licking to your heart’s content, add water and adjust the seasoning and it will bounce back after some more cooking.
      I had left overs that we are for 2 days. A little bit goes at since of the richness.
      Everytime I heated it, I had to add water and adjust salt n garam masala and it was good quantity again ;).

  7. After my trip to India I had 1 class from a Indian lady who has been living in Italy for many years… It has been amazing. She taught me how to do paneer with a spinach sauce… it was so good that I’ve organized several dinners making that dish. Now, thanks to you, I have a new recipe in order to prepare and use paneer! I’m sure is amazing! thank you very much and have a great we!

  8. Looks delicious…and I greatly appreciate the education you’re providing in the posts 🙂 I am learning so much about Indian cuisine and it’s variations…thank you!