Paneer Pot Pie
120 Min

Paneer Pot Pie

This Saturday we celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights that originated in India thousands of years ago. A four- to five-day celebration, Diwali is a little like the Christmas of India, minus the custom of gift-giving, and symbolizes the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. According to lore, it is the story of Lord Vishnu’s (incarnated as Ram or Krishna, depending on different parts of the country) return to the city of Ayodhya after a wrongful 14-year exile — the inhabitants of the city joyously lit rows of clay lamps to celebrate the return of their beloved king.

I spent my childhood in Gujarat, India, and Diwali was one of my favorite holidays. The fanfare began days earlier when boxes of sweets would begin to arrive from friends or my father’s co-workers. To celebrate love and generosity and invoke good luck and fortune into our home, we’d make rangoli designs on the floor just inside the front door — rangoli being a range of traditional handmade folk designs usually with colored powders, rice or lentils. Our parents would surprise us with new outfits to be worn on Diwali day. Two to three nights before, we’d start playing with firecrackers and lighting “diyas,” small terra-cotta lamps in which cotton wicks flicker in warm ghee. My mother would order fresh flowers and garlands, and an intoxicating perfume of marigold, tube roses and fragrant jasmine would envelop our home. Even today, when I go into a temple, the aroma of those flowers transports me to childhood joys of Diwali.


Diwali morning we’d eat a light lunch in anticipation of an elaborate dinner that would follow the Laxmi pooja (a prayer ceremony), a common practice in Gujarat. My brothers and I would sit through the pooja with stomachs gurgling, anxiously awaiting the customary dinner of a seven-vegetable stew, pooris (puffy balloon bread) and halwa, a sweet pudding made with whole-wheat flour scented with cardamom.


Living in America many decades later, I don’t follow many of those customs at home, but it’s still a time for reminiscing, joy and celebration. Depending on whether my now-adult children are with me, we celebrate accordingly. This year, we will make a delicious pot pie filled with paneer with a simple salad of local greens.

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Cook Time

120 Minutes



Step 1
Combine the all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, and turmeric and stir until evenly mixed. Add the butter and start mixing it with your fingertips until the dough is crumbly but there are still small chunks of butter (at this point, move quickly so the butter does not soften or melt).
Step 2
Add the ice water and bring the dough together — it should form into a firm dough. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours or overnight.
Step 1
In a stockpot, heat up the ghee and add the minced white onions. Lower the heat and cook them until golden brown (if the onions appear to burn, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water to deglaze the pan).
Step 2
Keeping the heat low, add the garlic, chickpea flour, and curry powder and cook for another minute while stirring them into the onions. Add the tomato purée, heavy cream, salt, and fenugreek leaves and bring the mixture to a boil.
Step 3
Lower the heat and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Cool until ready to assemble.
Step 1
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Let the pie dough rest at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.
Step 2
Grease a 9 to 10-inch pie dish lightly with ghee. Divide the pie dough into half and start rolling out one half to fit slightly larger than the diameter of the pie. Lay it on the bottom of the pie dish and spread the paneer cubes evenly over it.
Step 3
Pour the cooled sauce over the paneer. Dab or brush water over the edges of the pie dough. Roll the remaining dough into another circle and lay it over the pie and pinch the edges closed. Brush crust with melted ghee.
Step 4
Make a slit in the center of the pie to allow the steam to vent and place it in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes or until the pie dough is golden brown. Remove and cool for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.


440 grams all-purpose flour (about 3 3/4 cups)

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons sea salt

Pinch of ground turmeric

300 grams cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (2 1/2 sticks + 1 tablespoon)

1/2 cup ice water

1 teaspoon ghee for brushing


3 tablespoons ghee

1/2 cup minced white onions

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon chickpea flour

1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder

1/2 cup tomato purée

2 cups heavy cream

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 tablespoon crushed dry fenugreek leaves

3 cups paneer

Notes & Variations

  • Buy the best and freshest possible curry powder available. To substitute: Combine 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon each ground cumin and coriander, 1/2 teaspoon chile powder with generous pinches of warm spices such as ground cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and nutmeg.
  • Paneer is a farmer’s cheese available at all Indian grocery stores — it is made by clotting hot milk with lemon juice or vinegar and draining and pressing it into a block.
  • The pie can be assembled and refrigerated the day or hours before it is ready to be baked.
  • To give the crust a shiny finish, brush it with an egg white combined with a tablespoon water 2 to 3 minutes before it is finished baking.
  • Replace the paneer with chunks of braised chicken or even mushrooms.
120 Min

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Pie's are a simple & indulgent way to share a meal with friends & family.

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