Saag Paneer is an authentic North Indian dish made with spinach and homemade cheese. Blended with onions and tomatoes.Browse cuisine
Probably the most popular vegetarian Indian dish to date. It is slow-cooked with black lentils. Its flavor profile is smoky and creamy.Browse cuisine
North Indian cuisine more than any other Indian cuisine relies on long and slow cooking methods. Each state, from Punjab to Chetinnad, will have its own recipes and techniques. We blend together so many ingredients and spices, and then let them sit and stew for many hours. This makes the flavors stronger and more intense, it also makes us put more care into our cooking because it is not something we just throw together quickly, it is a process. When we are not stewing, we are roasting over a charcoal-fire tandoor which gives a smoky, grilled flavor to our veggies, meats, and flatbreads.
Because of the climate and abundance of water, we are also a region of farmers, this means we have access to an abundance of vegetables. North Indian cuisine is also very seasonal, depending on the produce that is growing at different times of the year, we will cook particular dishes. Historically, the northernmost part of India also experienced the passing of more migrants and conquerors from other countries, so our cuisine reflects those Turkish and Persian influences. It is the reason we have tikkas and kebabs, pulaos, cream and nut-based curries, and why we use more fragrant spices like saffron, rose-water, and dried fruits.
"There are a lot of vegetarian people in the North and they appreciate variety in their food; I always say that if you pick one vegetable, any auntie will know at least seven different ways to prepare it."
In an Indian household, you start the day and the first question from your mom is “What do you want for breakfast? What do you want for lunch?” We are constantly talking about food and we love to cook. A typical North Indian meal will be made of tandoori roti, dal, a vegetable dish like aloo gobi or saag paneer, chutney, pickles, and some curd (yogurt). I have a distinct memory of sitting down at our table with my mom making rotis in the kitchen. Today I make fresh rotis in the same way; I get yelled at by my kids, they always say “mom, can’t you sit down?!” but I feel more satisfaction when I am giving them their rotis hot from the pan to their plate, just like my mother did.
"If I think about my childhood dinner table it is colorful. Contrary to modern American cuisine, our tables are filled with various dishes, all served at the same time in small bowls for people to build their plates from."
I came to the U.S. in 1997, I spent my time raising our young children but dreaming of wanting to share my food. My husband and I managed to open our own restaurant, but we lost it when the economy crashed. Then the pandemic happened and our lives were turned upside down again. That’s when we found Shef and it totally changed my life.
I know that restaurant food does not bring the same feeling as homemade food. There are many young kids from other countries who come here for college, there are expats away from home, they are missing the food their mom used to make and now I get to be a mother who feeds them. When you cook your food from the bottom of your heart, and people love your food and keep coming back, that gives the ultimate satisfaction.
Don’t forget to stop by Keemat Grocers for all of your International grocery needs! High quality spices, freshly fruits and vegetables, and pantry staples can all be found here!
You’ll want to head over to Hillcroft Ave. for the best Indian food in Houston. This is our Mahatma Gandhi District and you’ll find endless options from Naan to Biryani to Dosa.
For an authentic Indian cuisine experience, be sure to check out Bombat Sweets on Hillcroft. A local favorite since it opened in 1997 their Samosa Chaat is a must!