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

Cooking my first Indian meal – Shahi Paneer and from-scratch chapatis
 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 of 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 at 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

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 thought it was ready.


I made small balls and covered them in flour.


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.


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


Shekhar holding my very first chapati.


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.


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.


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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