Matar Paneer is a delicious, crowd pleasing and impressing recipe originating from the north of India and is an all time favourite at any dinner party. Indian cottage cheese or Paneer as it is commonly known is a versatile ingredient used in Indian vegetarian cooking. It has a mild flavour with a beautiful creamy texture which is ideal for soaking up all the goodness of spices in the gravy. Paneer cooks fairly quickly making it a great choice for dishes like paneer tikka and paneer butter masala. The texture of paneer is very similar to Halloumi cheese where it does not disintegrate when simmered in gravies or fried or grilled.
The ingredients to make this simple dish start with a tomato base and basic spices including turmeric, coriander and cumin powder. It’s a common misconception that the tomato gravy made in this recipe requires onions. I have not used onions in the recipe however you can add it should you wish.
Many matar paneer recipes call for the paneer to be cooked prior to them being added to the recipe either by frying them or submerging them in water. I have not cooked the paneer prior to adding it to the gravy and this did not alter the dish. I found that paneer added to the gravy to simmer with other spices allows it to remain softer and soak more favour than cooking prior.
Another addition I have found in matar paneer recipes is they call for cashew or almond paste, cream or yogurt to make the gravy smoother and creamier. Again I did not add any of these and I found that the texture was just as smooth and creamy with a more balanced taste instead of being dominated by richness.
In order to achieve an all rounded flavour on tomatoes, I used both fresh vine plum tomatoes which adds a slightly sweet taste and combined this with a can of organic chopped tomatoes which add the sour taste required for the gravy. Furthermore, I used my hand blender to blend the tomatoes into a smooth sauce. This adds to the creamy and smooth texture of the matar paneer.
You can enjoy this succulent restaurant style recipe (without the additional calories!) with butter naan, rice, tandoori roti or plain rotli.
150ml organic olive oil
2-3 dry organic red chillies
5-6 organic whole cloves
1 inch organic cinnamon stick
1 ½ teaspoon organic cumin seeds
½ teaspoon organic asafoetida powder
6 large organic fresh vine tomatoes
450g canned organic chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon organic finely chopped green chillies
2 tablespoon fresh organic grated ginger
1 tablespoon fresh organic grated garlic
1 ½ teaspoon organic red chilli powder
2 teaspoons organic turmeric powder
2 ½ teaspoons cumin coriander powder
2 teaspoons organic garam masala
800g organic paneer
200g organic green peas
35g organic salted butter
Jaggery to taste (optional)
Salt to taste
Organic fresh chopped coriander leaves
- Start by chopping the panner into bite size cubes. Set aside
- Use a hand blender to blend the canned tomotes and set aside.
- Next grate the organic tomatoes into a bowl. Set aside.
- Now grate the ginger and garlic finely and set aside.
- Finally finely chop the green chillies or crush them in a food processor and set aside.
- Next, heat up a large pan at medium and add the olive oil with the cloves, dry red chillies and cinnamon stick.
- Allow the oil to become fragrant with the whole spices and then add the cumin seeds and asafoetida. Do not allow the spices to burn.
- Now add all the tomatoes, both fresh and canned combine together. Ensure the heat level is at medium.
- Next add the grated garlic, ginger, finely chopped chillies, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, cumin coriander powder and salt to taste. Stir this gravy to combine all the flavours together
- Now add the cubed paneer slowly into the gravy and again stir the gravy. Allow this gravy to simmer for approximately 20 minutes at a medium heat with the pan covered. Stir occasionally.
- Now add the green peans. Combine and cook for another 20 minutes at medium-high heat, uncovered. The gravy should now start to thicken.
- Next add the butter, jaggery if using and garam masala. Simmer for 10 minutes at high heat covered and then switch off the pan. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
- Spinkle fresh coriander and desiccated coconut on the matar paneer before serving.
- Use fresh paneer for a rich restuarant style recipe. If you use store bought paneer, keep it out at room tempreture for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking.
- Fresh tomatoes mixed with one can of chopped tomatoes will give you a balance of sweet and sour as canned tomatoes contain citric acid. This eleminates the need for additional ingredients such as lemon juice or amchor powder.
- Add jaggery is optional but if you do use it in a small amount it can enhance the taste of all the other spices where its more balanced and lively.
- While you can add additional chilli powder or chillies to spice it up but I have found it to the combination of green chillies, red chilli powder, ginger and garlic with provide the adequate amount of heat with flavour.