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.

Recipes: Methi Matar Pulao

During this lockdown when we can’t go out much, sometimes, you have pretty much nothing left in the fridge to cook with. Last week was one of those times. I was staring at a an empty fridge and still had to make lunch. So I decided to make this Methi Matar Pulao with what I actually had which was an onion, some frozen green peas and dried methi plus some spices. It actually was super delicious and GG even said that this could have been eaten on its own though I paired it with some onion boondi raita and some potato chips or crisps. Do try and let me know if you liked it!

Methi Matar Pulao

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup basmati rice, washed well and soaked for 20-30 mins
  • ½ cup frozen green peas
  • 1 onion, sliced finely
  • 2-3 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves or Kasuri Methi
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4-5 cloves
  • 4-5 cardamom pods
  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon
  • 1 green chilli, chopped into 1 inch pices
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp oil or ghee

Method:

  • After the basmati rice has been soaked for 20-30 mins, drain the water from the rice and keep aside.
  • Heat the ghee or oil in a pan and when the fat heats up, add the cumin seeds and let them pop.
  • After the cumin seeds pop, add the cloves, cardamom and cinnamon and stir for a few seconds.
  • Then add the green chilli and ginger and stir for a few seconds. After this add the onions and stir until the onions are translucent.
  • Now add the frozen peas and stir. Once the peas have been coated with the oil, take the dried fenugreek leaves in the palm of your hand and crush it lightly to release the oils. Sprinkle this dried leaves over the peas and stir.
  • Add the drained rice and salt and stir well.
  • If you are using a rice cooker, pour this into the rice cooker, add the appropriate amount of water and cook until done. I generally use slightly less than 1 cup of water for every cup of basmati rice, but you can play with this depending on your rice.
  • If you are cooking on the stovetop, add slightly less than the water needed and cook covered. If you feel you need more water, add towards the end when the rice is almost cooked so you can control how much water you add.
  • When the rice is cooked, let it rest for at least 10 minutes before you fluff it up with a fork. Serve hot with a raita.

Recipes: Shahi Aloo Matar

Another no onion, no garlic recipe, this time the classic aloo matar (potato and peas) curry reimagined without onions or garlic and made royal with the addition of some dry fruits and sesame seeds. It was super yummy and the addition of milk and yoghurt balanced the tartness of the tomatoes and also gives a slight sweetness to the recipe.

Shahi Aloo Matar

Ingredients:

  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh green peas
  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped roughly
  • 1/2 cup skimmed milk
  • 1/2 cup plain yoghurt
  • 6 cashew nuts
  • 6 almonds
  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon
  • 3-4 cardamom pods
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled
  • 1 tsp white sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves to garnish

Method:

  • Peel and chop the potatoes into bite-sized pieces and keep aside.
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and add 1 tsp cumin seeds and let them pop. Then add the fennel seeds. Next add the sesame seeds, cloves, cardamon, bay leaf and cinamon one at a time and stir for a few seconds before adding the next ingredient.
  • Next add the cashewnuts and almonds and stir till the nuts are slightly brown. Now add the chopped tomatoes and a pinch of salt and let the tomatoes cook and become mushy. Remove, let it cool completely and grind it to a smooth paste with the yoghurt.
  • Heat the balance oil and add the balance cumin seeds. When the seeds splutter, add the asafoetida and turmeric powder and stir for 2 seconds.
  • Then add the chopped potatoes and let them cook for about 5 mins, or until they are half cooked.
  • At this point, add the frozen peas and salt and let the potatoes and peas cook till they are around 75-80% cooked. Remove from the flame and keep aside.
  • In a new pan, add the ground paste and stir well. Add the dry spice powders – chilli powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and garam masala powder and cook covered till the oil leaves the sides of the pan and the raw smell disappears. This should take around 7-10 minutes.
  • Now add the cooked potaotes and peas to this paste and stir well. Add the milk and let it come to the consistency you need. You can also add some water or more milk if it is still thick. Simmer for about 10 minutes to allow the flavours to mix together. Check for seasoning and garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.
  • This goes very well with any Indian flatbread or even a jeera rice or pulao.

Methi Makkai Mattar or Fenugreek Leaves, Sweet Corn and Peas in Gravy

I had some frozen Methi lying in my fridge and was thinking about how to use it when am idea popped into my head and would not leave. So last week, I decided to try something and just hoped for the best. Luckily for me, the recipe turned out fine and was actually quite good, if I may say so. So here’s the latest experiment from my kitchen.

Methi Makkai Matar or Fenugreek leaves, Sweet Corn and Peas in a Gravy

Ingredients:

  • 1 small cup frozen or fresh methi leaves
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh sweet corn
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh green peas
  • 2 medium sized onions
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes, chppped
  • 5-6 pods of garlic, peeled
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled
  • 3-4 red chillies (I used the small ones, you can also use green chillies)
  • 10 pieces of whole cashew nuts
  • 10 pieces of almonds
  • 4-6 tbsp yoghurt
  • 4 pieces of clove
  • 4 pieces of cardamom
  • 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ajwain or carom seeds
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
  • 4-5 tsp oil

Method:

  • Defrost the frozen vegetables (if using) and lightly cook them in a microwave till they are soft.
  • If you don’t have access to a microwave, then pour boiling water over the frozen corn and peas for 20 minutes, drain and keep aside. Let the frozen methi defrost and keep aside.
  • If you are using fresh methi, pluck and chop the leaves and keep aside.
  • Slice the onions and keep aside. Roughly chop the tomatoes and keep aside. Peel the ginger and garlic and keep aside.
  • In a pan, heat about 3-4 tsp of oil and when the oil warms, add the sliced onions and let it brown. We want the onions to caramelise and become brown.
  • When the onions are about 80% brown, move the onions to the sides of the pan and in the same oil, add the whole spices – 1 tsp cumin seeds, coriander seeds, carom seeds, cloves and cardamom and let them pop.
  • Then add the garlic and ginger and sauté for a minute. Then add the chopped onions and let the tomatoes cook and become pulpy. Switch off the gas and let it cool. Move this to a blender and when fully cool, blend to a smooth paste, adding water if needed.
  • In the same pan, add the balance oil and heat it. When the oil warms, add the remaining cumin seeds and let it pop.
  • Then add the methi leaves and stir for a few minutes. After that, add the corn and peas and salt to taste.
  • Cover and cook until the vegetables are almost done, stirring often.
  • When the vegetables are almost done, add the blended paste and stir.
  • Add some water to thin (but not too much) and then the spice powders – turmeric powder, red chilli powder, cumin powder and coriander powder.
  • In the same blender, whisk the yoghurt well and add it to the gravy.
  • Check for seasoning and add what’s missing.
  • Add the garam masala powder and let it boil on a low to medium flame for 5 minutes
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with an Indian bread or even plain rice.

Recipe: Aloo Matar Paneer

Another simple, rustic recipe, straight from the Punjabi heartland, this recipe is also courtesy of my helper R. According to her, this version is what is made in weddings in her village and is a super yummy dish which goes very well with any Indian flatbread. A version of this recipe was what I also made when I cooked a non-South Indian dish for the first time. This recipe was taught to me by a neighbour.

Aloo Matar Paneer

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1/2 pack frozen paneer, refreshed in a pan with hot water for 30 minutes
  • 2 medium-sized onions, chopped roughly
  • 4 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped roughly
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, chopped roughly
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsps oil (I use a canola-olive blend)
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds powder
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 2 tsp cumin seed powder
  • a handful of cashew nuts
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves to garnish

Method:

  • Pour hot water over the cashew nuts in a dish and keep aside for 30 minutes till the nuts are soft.
  • Grind together onion, tomatoes, ginger, dried red chillies, garlic and cashew nuts and keep aside. Try not to use any water to make the paste and keep the paste smooth.
  • Chop the potatoes into 1-inch pieces and wash and keep aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds and saute for a few seconds.
  • Add the ground tomato-onion paste and saute till it is browned. Keep stirring so it does not burn. Keep stirring till the oil starts leaving the pan.
  • Add the dry spices now – salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder and cumin powder and stir well.
  • Next, add potatoes and mix well.
  • Add around a quarter cup of water and mix well and cover and cook till the potatoes are almost done.
  • Now add the frozen green peas and mix. Cover and cook till the vegetables are done.
  • If the gravy appears to be thick, add some water to thin it.
  • Now add the paneer pieces and sprinkle the garam masala powder and let it simmer for five minutes.
  • Remove from the flame, garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with any rotis or Indian flatbread.