No one needs introduction to Paneer, and while it can hold its ground in a gravy that has only paneer in it, here’s a version where this crowd favorite is paired with another popular ingredient – green peas! Matar Paneer is the quickest way to enjoy these two crowd-pleasers in one easy recipe. And this must be one of the very few Mughlai-style curries which does not even need an onion base in the curry. Tomatoes, green chillies, cashews, cream and a dash of kasuri methi lend it the flavor and the form needed to make it look both pretty and tasty.
You can make paneer at home, or buy the paneer cubes from your Indian grocery store. One step here involves shallow-frying the paneer – you can skip this too if you buy the fried paneer cubes directly. Using frozen peas is easier, but if you have the patience to cook with fresh peas, then totally go for it. You’ll have to simmer them in the gravy long enough to cook them through, or you can par-boil them before adding to the gravy. Serve it with your favorite Roti or Naan for a healthy comforting meal.
Shahi Matar Paneer
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
1/2 lb paneer (approx. 1-1/2 cups cubed)
3/4 cup frozen peas (thawed)
12 cashew nuts
2 tomatoes chopped
1 green chili chopped
1/4 inch of ginger
3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/8 teaspoon asafoetida
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon red chili powder, adjust to taste
1/2 cup fresh cream (or yogurt)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt, adjust to taste
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp dried kasuri methi (optional)
Slice paneer into 3/4 inch cubes and keep aside. Grind the cashews with 1 tbsp milk to form a thick paste-like consistency. Puree the tomatoes, green chili and ginger in a blender and keep aside.
Add oil in a pan, over medium heat. Shallow fry paneer cubes till they turn slightly brown. Remove from pan and place over paper towels to absorb excess oil.
Now increase heat to medium-high and add cumin seeds, bay leaf and asafoetida. Let it splutter, then add the tomato puree mixture along with all dry spices – coriander powder, turmeric, red chili powder, garam masala and paprika. Cook the mixture, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes. It will reduce to half its volume and start separating from the oil.
Add sugar, cashew powder and cream or yogurt. Cook for another minute then add 1 cup of water, thawed peas and salt and bring to boil.
When the gravy becomes thick, add paneer and cover the pan. Simmer for a few minutes over medium-low heat, till all paneer cubes are evenly coated with the gravy.
Remove from heat, add dried kasuri methi and chopped cilantro. Mix gently, cover the pan and let it sit for a couple of minutes .
If you are looking for a way to make this more healthy and nutritious, add more chopped and boiled veggies, like potato cubes, chopped french beans, shredded broccoli, and chopped red bell peppers to make it colorful and healthy. Kids love Paneer, and they’ll gladly gobble up the remaining veggies too if they are paired with their favorite!