This recipe for paneer in yellow sauce makes a “bowl of golden goodness”

Shaman Kaliya (Paneer in yellow sauce)

Active time:35 minutes

Total time:45 minutes


Active time:35 minutes

Total time:45 minutes


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Kashmir loomed large in Romy Gill’s imagination long before her visit.

As the British Indian chef and author writes in her new book, ‘On the Himalayan Trail’, she marveled as a child at the “paradise” she saw in Bollywood films set in the remote valley. It was during this time that she was growing up in West Bengal, where she later learned about the culture, religion, language and – perhaps most importantly for her future career – the food of the region from the Kashmiri families who worked with his father.

Gill, who turns 50 this week, finally traveled there last year, during the pandemic, to seek out a book that she hopes will inspire readers to experience the region through their cuisines.

Kashmir is making headlines because it is a disputed territory, with India, Pakistan and China squabbling there. Besides its renowned physical beauty, Kashmir is notorious for its violence and unrest, making it close to the South Asian equivalent of the Palestinian territories, as a Washington Post reporter once put it.

Simple butter paneer gets its richness from tomato, spices and cashews

Gill does not stray entirely from politics in his book; she includes an account of a vegetarian feast she was served at her friend Amit’s house in Srinagar, whose activist grandfather HN Wanchoo was murdered in 1992. But for the most part she wants to keep the focus on the glories Kashmiri cuisine, which is influenced by two communities: Pandits and Muslims. While the dishes of both communities have been influenced by Central Asian, Afghani, Persian and Mughal cuisine, writes Gill, the pandits cook without onions or garlic and use three ingredients you won’t find much in Kashmiri Muslim cuisine. : asafetida (hing), paneer and yogurt.

The Pandits, who are Hindus, also have a long tradition of vegetarianism which has survived in the region, and this is the source of Gill’s recipe here for shaman kaliya, paneer in yellow sauce. This recipe was inspired by a dish prepared by her friend Amit’s parents during her visit.

My only complaint is that the term “yellow sauce” might not do justice to the complexity of flavor you get by layering nine spices, some whole, with green chiles and simmering them in water before tossing. thicken the sauce with milk. When combined with seared paneer and tossed with aromatic dried fenugreek leaves, “It’s just a bowl of golden yellow delight, isn’t it?” Gill said with a smile on a Zoom call from his home near Bristol and Bath, south-west London.

When I made it, I was particularly taken with the light aniseed flavor of the ground fennel, the smoke of the black cardamom and the absolutely intoxicating earthy, bitter and slightly sweet touch of the dried fenugreek leaves. It took little time to assemble and when I served it to a colleague with a particularly refined palate, his eyes widened and sparkled like mine the first time I tasted it. Before he even spoke, it told me everything I needed to know.

Shaman Kaliya (Paneer in yellow sauce)

To make this dish vegan, substitute extra firm tofu for paneer and full-fat coconut milk for cow’s milk.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Or buy: Mustard oil, asafetida (hing), dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi), black cardamom and Indian green chilies can be found in Indian markets and some international markets. You can also find paneer there, as well as in many well-stocked supermarkets.

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  • 3 tablespoons mustard oil (can substitute neutral vegetable oil, such as sunflower)
  • 1 pound paneer (can substitute extra-firm tofu, drained and patted dry), cubed
  • 8 green cardamom pods
  • 4 black cardamom pods
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 2 whole Indian green chiles, such as Kashmiri (can substitute Thai green chiles or serrano chiles), halved lengthwise
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground fennel
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafetida (hing) powder
  • 1 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk (can substitute whole coconut milk)
  • 1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
  • cooked rice, for serving

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil until shimmering. Add paneer and fry until lightly browned on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. (The paneer tends to spit in the oil; use a splatter guard if necessary.) Transfer to a plate.

Add the green and black cardamom, cloves, cumin seeds and bay leaves to the pan and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, about 1 minute, then add the chiles, fennel, turmeric, ginger, salt and asafetida. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute, then pour in the hot water.

Increase the heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat until the liquid simmers, add the fried paneer and cook until the water reduces slightly, about 3 minutes. Pour in the milk and cook until the sauce thickens, 8 to 10 minutes.

Stir in the fenugreek leaves, divide into serving bowls and serve hot with rice.

Per serving (1/2 cup, without rice)

Calories: 502; Total fat: 38g; Saturated fat: 19g; Cholesterol: 91mg; sodium: 714mg; Carbohydrates: 17g; Dietary fiber: 3g; Sugar: 9g; Protein: 32g

This analysis is an estimate based on the available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietitian or nutritionist.

Adapted from “On the Himalayan Trail: Recipes and Stories from Kashmir to Ladakh” by Romy Gill (Hardie Grant, 2022).

Tested by Joe Yonan; questions by e-mail to [email protected].

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