Matar paneer is a popular North Indian dish , loved by one and all. Paneer (Indian cottage cheese) and green peas are cooked in a onion tomato based gravy seasoned with aromatic spices. To add to it’s richness, cashew nut paste and cream are usually added, however I skipped the cream and just added the cashew nut paste. This dish is mildly spiced with a hint of sweetness.
Paneer was rarely cooked in my household . I always ended up ordering a paneer vegetarian dish whenever we visited restaurants , I began liking it and still do. On days when I’m in no mood to cook a non vegetarian meal , paneer comes to my rescue. The fact that it has no taste of its own and absorbs the flavors and blends well in the gravy , makes it a great choice to use it in any dish.
Coming back to matar paneer , it’s one of my many favorite paneer dishes. The green peas give a great texture from the contrasting melt in the mouth , creamy paneer. Have it with rice or any flatbread , some onions rings sprinkled with lime juice and chaat masala , heaven I say!
I actually prepared this for dinner , as I had a late and real heavy breakfast, I was in no mood for lunch. But as this dish was nearing completion , my tastebuds awakened with the tantalizing aroma that filled my kitchen , and I automatically ended up having some with pilaf. Yumm!!!
Measuring cup used, 1 cup = 250ml.
150 grams paneer , about 1 & 1/2 cup paneer cubes
1 cup green peas ( I used frozen green peas)
3 tablespoons oil/ ghee/ butter
1 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
1 black cardamom
1 & 1/4 tablespoon freshly crushed ginger garlic coarse paste
1 large onion, about 2 cups of finely chopped onions
1 & 1/2 cup tomato puree
1 teaspoon red chilly powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
2 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 tablespoon kasoori methi
1/2 – 1 teaspoon sugar, adjust as per taste
1/4 cup cashew nuts, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes, and ground to a smooth paste
salt to taste
2-3 tablespoons cream (optional)
2-3 tablespoons of chopped cilantro ( dhania ) leaves
1.Heat oil/ghee/ butter, in a heavy bottomed pan, add cumin seeds, bay leaf and black cardamom.
2. Once the cumin seeds splutter, add coarsely crushed ginger garlic paste, saute until fragrant.
3. Add finely chopped onions, saute until golden brown. Add little salt to help the onions sweat faster.
4. Now add red chilly powder, turmeric powder, cumin and coriander powder. Saute until the masala oozes oil.
5. Add tomato puree, cook till it starts leaving oil. You can cover the pan and let it simmer, but stir occasionally to prevent anything from burning at the bottom.
6. Add cashew paste, mix it well, and cook for another minute. The masala will start to clump and oil will start to ooze.
7. Add about 1 & 1/2 cup water, mix it well. Add green peas, let the gravy come to a boil.
8. Add paneer pieces, mix well.
9. Season with remaining spices i.e salt, sugar, crushed kasoori methi and garam masala. Mix well. Cover and let it simmer for 5 more minutes. Add cream, mix and switch of the heat. Garnish with finely chopped cilantro leaves. Serve hot with jeera rice/ pilaf/ tandoori roti / naan or any other flat bread.
- You can use finely chopped tomatoes instead of the puree too, chop about 3-4 large tomatoes and proceed as directed in place of tomato puree, or you can make a puree of fresh tomatoes by blending them in the jar . Add some tomato paste or ketchup to get more of that tomato flavor.
- For a healthier version, skip the cashewnut paste and cream.
- If you are using fresh peas, you could either cook them separately until tender and then add to the gravy , or let it cook in the gravy for a longer time.
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