Matar Paneer is one of my favourite Indian dishes. It’s basically cheese and peas in a spicy tomato sauce. Delicious, no?
I often make this when I am entertaining, as the flavour is show-stopping but it is easy to prepare and forgiving if you have other things on the go and can’t give it your full attention. If you accidentally leave the curry simmering on the hob for longer than you planned, no problem. In fact, the flavour will be more intense and you’ll end up with a richer curry.
This is an automatic winner if you are looking for a vegetarian meal and it is robust and satisfying enough to be a keeper for Meat-Free Monday. Go on, try it!
RECIPE: Matar Paneer
FLAVOUR PROFILE: Medium heat with fragrant spices and a creamy tomato base.
GOES GREAT WITH: Delightful on its own with some naan bread to mop up the sauce. Or serve it with a side of plain rice. If you want to go the extra mile, make this dish as part of a banquet alongside my Tandoori Poussin with rice, naan, poppadoms and all the trimmings.
NOTES: If you don’t have a spice grinder, you can grind the spices in a pestle and mortar. Just leave out the cinnamon stick and dried chilli as it will be impossible to work them into powder unless you have a strong arm and a lot of patience. Instead, throw them into the curry whole, and fish out just before you need to blend.
MAKES: Enough to feed 4-6 as a side dish or 2-4 as part of a main course.
- 200g (7oz) PANEER, diced into 1 inch cubes
- 2 tbsp. OIL
- 1 tbsp. BUTTER
- 1 ONION, finely sliced into half-moons
- 1 inch piece FRESH GINGER, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves GARLIC, roughly chopped
- Small can (230g) CHOPPED TOMATOES
- 1/2 RED BELL PEPPER, roughly chopped
- 4 CARDAMOM PODS, seeds removed and husks discarded
- 1 tsp. CUMIN SEEDS
- 1 tsp. CORIANDER SEEDS
- 1/2 tsp. FENUGREEK SEEDS
- 1/2 tsp. FENNEL SEEDS
- 2 CLOVES
- 1 inch piece CINNAMON STICK
- 1/2 tsp. TURMERIC
- 1 DRIED CHILLI
- Dash of CREAM
- Large handful PEAS
- FRESH CORIANDER, leaves picked to garnish (optional)
- Put the whole spices (CARDAMOM PODS, CUMIN SEEDS, CORIANDER SEEDS, FENUGREEK SEEDS, CLOVES, CINNAMON STICK, DRIED CHILLI) into a dry frying pan and toast over a high heat for a minute or two. Be careful to watch them, as they will burn easily. The spices will be ready to take off the heat when you can smell their aroma. Decant the spices into a spice grinder and blitz to a fine powder. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan add 1 tbsp. OIL and the BUTTER over a medium heat. When the butter is fizzing, add the ONIONS. Cook slowly for 15 minutes until the onions are golden and sticky.
- Add the GARLIC and GINGER and cook for a few minutes. Then add the BELL PEPPER and the GROUND SPICE MIXTURE. Cook, stirring frequently for a few minutes.
- Add the small can of CHOPPED TOMATOES plus 1/2 can of WATER and the TURMERIC. Stir, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and leave it simmering for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in the frying pan you used to toast the spices, add 1 tbsp. OIL and put on a medium-high heat. Gently add the PANEER. Be careful as the oil may splutter. Fry, turning the pieces over so that the cubes become golden brown. (You may need to add a touch more oil, as sometimes the paneer can stick) Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.
- Take the curry off the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes. Then, decant into a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour back into the saucepan over a medium heat and add the PEAS, PANEER and stir in the CREAM. Cook for a few minutes and then serve immediately. Garnish with the FRESH CORIANDER, if desired. Enjoy!