Matar paneer (Peas and Cheese Curry)
Matar Paneer is one of the most popular dish on any Indian restaurants menu and at special occasions in a vegetarian Indian home. It is a good party dish and can be made in advance. It can be made very mild to very spicy, very simple or creamy. For making it without onion and garlic, follow the curry sauce recipe without onions recipe.
Paneer can be made at home but is also available ready-made from most good Indian stores and many supermarkets in the UK. It is sold in blocks or bricks. If ready made paneer is used, this dish can be made very quickly. It freezes well. Serves 4-6
Recipe re-written May 2020
250 gm. peas, frozen or shelled
250 gm. Indian cheese or Paneer
A pan of hot oil to deep fry the paneer
For the Curry Sauce
2 tbsp. oil
1 medium sized or approximately 150 gm. onions, peeled and finely chopped
1 inch piece of ginger
1-2 cloves garlic (optional)
1 tsp. cumin seeds
2 large/brown cardamoms*
5-6 whole black peppers*
A small piece of cinnamon/cassia bark*
A couple of bay leaves along with cumin seeds.A pinch of asafoetida powder (optional)*
1 tsp. coriander powder
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
1/4 tsp. crushed chillies or chilli powder
Salt to taste
200 gm. tinned or 1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
2 cups of water
1/2 tsp. Garam Masala
A handful of coriander leaves for garnish
Optional: 2 tbsp. thick/double cream at room temperature (chilled cream may split when added to hot curry). This gives the dish extra creaminess.
*These are the whole ingredients that make Garam Masala. If you don’t have them, you can omit them, adding garam masala instead at the end of cooking.
Peel, wash, chop the onion, ginger and garlic roughly. Chop together finely in a food processor. Or cut finely by hand.
Cut paneer cheese into cubes. You can add them to the dish as they are or deep fry them. I prefer to add them unfried. To fry, heat the oil a karahi or deep frying pan to medium hot, not smoking hot. Add paneer cubes and fry, turning them gently, until light brown. This only takes a few minutes. Drain on a kitchen paper. Keep aside.
For the Curry Sauce
Heat oil in a pan.
Add cumin seeds, the whole spices marked* if used, and asafoetida. Let the cumin seeds splutter, not burn.
Add the chopped onions, ginger and garlic, fry until medium brown and the oil separates at the edges.
Add tomatoes, coriander powder, turmeric, chilli powder and salt.
Cook, stirring frequently, until oil begins to separate from the gravy at the edges.
Add the peas, mix thoroughly, and add enough water, to cover the peas. Thickness of the curry sauce is your choice, so adjust the amount of water to your liking.
Bring to boil on full heat, then turn the heat down, cover and simmer for 5 minutes, longer if fresh peas are used.
Add paneer/cheese squares, cover and simmer for 5 more minutes. Paneer absorbs liquid and becomes soft.
Adjust seasoning and thickness of gravy to your choice. Turn heat off.
If using cream, stir it in here.
Add chopped coriander and a little garam masala and mix.
If you like matar paneer creamy like in restaurants, you have to increase the amount of oil in your onion frying stage. Also, you can add 2 tbsp. of double cream at the end of cooking.
It is possible to use Tofu instead of paneer, but the taste will be a little different. Cut tofu into bite size squares. Shallow fry on both sides in a non-stick frying pan, until lightly brown. Use as paneer.