Matar paneer or Mutter paneer is a simple and commonly prepared North Indian dish. Deliciously flavored peas and paneer(Indian cottage cheese) are cooked in a mild tomato-onion gravy. Traditionally paneer is fried to add extra flavor to the recipe but to cut down on the calorie count I prefer to toast them on tawa or griddle. They are equally good and crispy as the fried ones.
Blend onion-tomato and garlic in food processor to make a smooth gravy and cook till all the liquid has evaporated and the gravy is rich red in color. I have adjusted my tomato content in the recipe below by adding 1 small tomato and 1 tablespoon homemade tomato puree but if no tomato puree on hand you can add 2 tomatoes to the gravy. If you have onion-tomato masala ready in your refrigerator then it will cut down the cooking time. All you have to do is add spices,curd and saute till its well blended, add water and continue with rest of the recipe.
Dry toasting the whole spices releases their essential oils and makes it more aromatic and flavorful. Simply dry toast the whole spices in a pan till they are light brown in color, allow them to cool and using a motor and pestle or grinder grind them to dust. Later add this to any cooked gravy and it adds a toasty and smoky flavor to that dish. Cinnamon powder is added to flavor matar paneer but if you have cinnamon stick on hand dry toast it along with other spices and grind.
Once paneer is added to the recipe, give it a boil and serve it hot, refrain from mixing it at this point as after a boil paneer pieces will become soft and disintegrate in the hot gravy. Paneer can always be substituted with Tofu for a for a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet.
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- 1.5 LB Homemade Paneer (700 Gms.)
- 1 cup Fresh or frozen peas
- 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon Powder (optional)
- Salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon Oil for toasting paneer
- 1 tablespoon Cream (optional)
- 2 pieces of Moti Eliachi (Black cardamom)
- 2-3 pieces of Cloves
- 1 tablespoon Coriander seeds
- 2-3 pieces of Bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon Crushed red chili flakes or 1-2 whole red chilies
- 1 medium Onion, sliced
- 2 cloves of Garlic
- 1 teaspoon Ginger piece, grinded to paste
- 1 small Tomato
- 1 tablespoon Homemade tomato puree
- 2 tablespoon Curd
- 1/4- 1/2 teaspoon Cumin seeds
- 1-2 tablespoon Oil
- Let's begin by dry roasting our spices. Dry toasting the whole spices releases their essential oils and makes it more aromatic and flavorful.
- Heat a pan and transfer all the dry spices to it. Roast them till they start emitting aroma and coriander seeds are lightly toasted. Using a motor and pestle coarsely grind them or you can use a food processor or mixer. Keep it aside.
- Grind onion, garlic and tomato to a fine paste and in the same pan heat oil, add cumin seeds and when they start to sputter add this paste to it along with ginger paste.
- Start cooking the masala till all the liquid has evaporated. Add tomato puree and mix, adding tomato puree will give the gravy that rich red color. Stir in pounded spices and give it a good mix.
- Add curd to this masala and keep sauteing till curd is well blended with the masala. It will take another 2-3 minutes.
- Once masala is fully cooked oil will start to appear in the corners of the pan. Add water, mix and bring it to a boil.
- Assemble rest of the ingredients. (Picture error - curd and cumin seeds are already added in the recipe above). Add peas to the boiling masala, cover and cook for 4-5 minutes.
- Meanwhile toast paneer on the griddle/tawa. Grease the hot tawa and place paneer slices over it. Cook it evenly from all the sides till they are golden brown in color.
- After 5 minutes cooked matar will look like this. Beautifully blended with the gravy, adjust water and seasoning at this point.
- Stir in Paneer cubes, mix and give it a boil.
- Matar paneer is ready. If you prefer add cream at this point, again it's an option.
- Serve it hot over rice or with chapati.