Paneer koftas and shiitake mushroom curry

Paneer koftas and shiitake mushroom curry

Anjum's Indian Vegetarian Feast
Emma Lee

This is definitely a special occasion dish, as it is elegant as well as delicious, and worth the effort if you have people coming around. Normally, I stuff the koftas with a spiced mushroom mixture but, as I was writing the recipe, it seemed one step too far and fiddly… so I decided to deconstruct the dish, adding lovely shiitake mushrooms separately, which actually works better. If you want, you can choose to stuff the balls simply with a raisin and a pistachio each. If your paneer is shop-bought, place it in just-boiled water while you work on the sauce, to improve the texture and flavour.


Quantity Ingredient

For the sauce

Quantity Ingredient
50g cashew nuts
8 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 black cardamom pods
2 large onions, sliced
25g root ginger, grated, (peeled weight)
4 fat garlic cloves, peeled and grated
4 large tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1/2-3/4 teaspoon chilli powder
1 rounded tablespoon ground coriander
1 3/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1/3 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons garam masala
salt, to taste
5-6 tablespoons double cream, plus more to serve
1 rounded teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves

For the koftas and mushrooms

Quantity Ingredient
small handful coriander leaves, chopped, plus more to serve
vegetable oil, to deep-fry
12 shiitake mushrooms, stalks discarded, thickly sliced, or halved if small


  1. Soak the cashews in water for 15 minutes, then drain. Blitz to a smooth paste with 1–2 tablespoons of water, then set aside. Heat the oil for the sauce in a large non-stick saucepan. Add the black cardamom and onions and cook until well browned. Add the ginger and garlic and cook until lightly colouring. Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, remaining spices and seasoning; cook over a medium heat, stirring, until the water evaporates and the paste releases oil, around 15 minutes. Cook the paste for a few minutes over a moderate to high heat, stirring constantly, to get a better depth of flavour. Add a splash of water, then blend to a purée. Add enough water to reach the consistency of single cream, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for six to seven minutes.
  2. While the curry is cooking, make the koftas. Break up and crumble the paneer until it is fine then, with the heel of your hand, knead until it is even finer (when you squeeze a bit together, it should hold). The more you work it, the smoother it becomes. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and the coriander leaves and form into large marble-sized balls.
  3. Add enough oil to come 5 cm up the sides of a small saucepan and heat to 180°C. Test the oil by dropping in a small amount of the mixture; it should sizzle immediately but not colour straight away. Add a batch of koftas so that the pan is not over-crowded, then cook, turning halfway, until deep golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Repeat with the remaining koftas. Remove most of the remaining oil from the pan, leaving around 1–2 tablespoons, then add the mushrooms, season lightly and sauté for four to five minutes.
  4. Once the curry is done, add the cashew nut paste and the cream and bring to a gentle simmer; the consistency should be of a light cream. Add the koftas and mushrooms, return to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for five minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Sprinkle over the dried fenugreek and add a swirl of cream and a sprinkling of chopped coriander.
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