Recipes: Matar Paneer

A dish you find in pretty much every Indian restaurant, Matar Paneer, which means Peas and Paneer, is a yummy dish from the state of Punjab which has fresh or frozen green peas and cottage cheese or Paneer in a smooth onion tomato gravy, spiced with garam masala. Usually served with Indian flatbreads like rotis, you can also have it with steamed rice.

One Sunday, bored of making the same old dishes, I decided to make a super easy mater paneer. This version, which may not be the most authentic version, is very easy and doesn’t take much time to make. I used frozen peas, but if you have fresh peas, the dish will be even better.

Matar Paneer

Ingredients:
– 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
– 1 cup frozen paneer, soaked in hot water for 20-30 minutes and then drained
– 2 medium sized onions, chopped roughly
– 4 medium sized tomatoes, chopped roughly
– 1 bulb garlic, peeled
– 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
– 10-12 almonds
– 2 tsp cumin seeds
– 1 tsp ajwain or caraway seeds
– 1 tbsp coriander seeds
– 2 cloves
– 2 cardamom pods
– ¼ tsp turmeric powder
– 1 tsp red chilli powder
– 1 tsp cumin powder
– 1 tsp coriander powder
– 1 tsp garam masala powder
– 1 tbsp kasuri methi
– Salt to taste
– 2 tbsp ghee or oil
– Chopped coriander leaves to garnish

Method:
– Heat 1 tbsp ghee or oil in a pan and when it is warm, add 1 tsp cumin seeds and let them pop.
– Then add the ajwain seeds, coriander seeds, cloves and cardamom pods and stir for a couple of seconds.
– Now add the almonds and stir for a minute or two. Then add the garlic and ginger one by one and stir between adding the next ingredient.
– When everything is stirred well, add the onions and stir until the onions are translucent.
– Then add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt and stir until the tomatoes are completely cooked and mushy. Switch off the flame and let this cool.
– When completely cool, blend together into a smooth paste.
– In a separate pan, heat the balance ghee or oil and the balance cumin seeds and let the seeds pop
– Then add the frozen peas and the turmeric powder and some salt and cover and cook on a low to medium flame until the peas are around 80% cooked.
– Add in the blended masala paste and then the powder masalas – red chilli powder, coriander powder and cumin powder and let it come to a rolling boil.
– At this point, add in the soaked and drained paneer and salt to taste. Add the garam masala powder and crush the kasuri methi in the palms of your hands and sprinkle it over the gravy.
– Let everything come to a nice boil and put the flame on a simmer and cook for 10 minutes more. Thin it if needed at this point.
– Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with any rotis or rice. I served it with a simple jeera rice made with basmati rice.

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