Shahi Paneer & Vegan Garlic Naan

I have been wanting to attempt this Indian dish for a long time, but never took the time to research how until last week. There is this incredible place in Longwood (near downtown Orlando) called Udipi Cafe that is strictly vegetarian Indian food. They have this made-to-order garlic naan bread that melts in your mouth...and even have a garlic cheese version! I wanted to try to recreate the straight garlic one, and happened to come across a basic vegan naan recipe randomly so thought I'd give it a whirl. View the naan recipe I used here. The only change I made is that I added raw garlic to the dough prior to letting it rise. This is a really great recipe, but the one down side is that since it's vegan, after they puff up while cooking they deflate immediately and essentially become flatbread (not that there's anything wrong with that!). Tasty Indian flatbread is cool in my book!

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For the main dish, I wasn't able to recreate the exact dish at Udipi that I usually get for a few reasons. Mostly because I can never remember the traditional name of it. So I searched for what I did know about it - that it's a creamy tomato gravy with a cashew and/or almond base and has paneer (homemade Indian cheese cubes) in it. The closest thing I found was called Shahi Paneer from ShowMeTheCurry.com (totally laughed out loud at the site's corny name). I'm not gonna lie, I made more than a few changes to their recipe (main ones listed below). After all of my alterations, it turned out to be a success!

View the Shahi Paneer recipe I used here. My alterations included:

  • Adding half the amount of sugar that it called for;
  • Because I am really far away from an Indian market, I couldn't get paneer so I subbed it with some delicious quinoa tofu (which I seasoned and browned prior to adding to gravy);
  • Go easy on the coriander and cumin - I reduced it by 1/4 teaspoon or so. They really over-season this, so it ends up almost hiding the magical cashew and tomato flavors;
  • Make sure that before you sauté the raw onion, you put it into a food processor until it forms a watery paste. You'll want the onion as ground up as possible;
  • I made this with regular skim milk, but if you're vegan I am pretty sure you could just as easily use plain soy or almond milk and it would work out great!

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