Matar Paneer is a very popular North Indian curry. It has a lovely texture and beautiful flavor balance. Soft bite size paneer (fresh uncultured cheese) with the sweetness of peas cooked in spiced tomato gravy. It pairs wonderfully with both rice and roti. This dish is so much preferred in India that you will find it in almost every other restaurant, buffet menu, wedding menu or for any gathering that plans for a North Indian meal. I hardly order this dish in a restaurant because the ratio of the gravy with the paneer is never balanced and so, I always prefer to make it at home. It’s also a great weekday meal as it takes less than 30 minutes from prep to finish.
Few weeks back, after I prepared the Matar Paneer for dinner, I did a quick poll in Insta-stories and majority of the viewers asked for the recipe. A recipe request always makes me happy! So, I quickly took out some props and did a quick photo-shoot. I am sure we all have our way of preparing this dish but we always like to try a new version.
In most paneer curries, I don’t fry the paneer before adding it to the gravy. With Matar Paneer, I somehow like the char on the paneer. Those pan-fried paneer chunks are a serious addiction! Hide those or there will be none left for the curry. I also like big chunks of paneer in any paneer curry. The ratio of gravy to paneer and peas is important or else, at the end of the meal, all you see is a boatload of gravy with a few green peas floating in the bowl.
Few Key Points To Remember
Pick the best quality paneer from the market. If you can make the dish using homemade fresh paneer, the taste will obviously be much better.
When paneer sits in room temperature, it hardens up, especially when you are using store bought paneer. So, either serve the dish immediately or make sure to warm it before you serve.
I used frozen peas only because it is convenient but feel free to use fresh peas, if you like.
The color of the gravy is very important for me and I feel that the technique of blending raw tomatoes with sautéed onion does that magic. However, you can avoid the blending and just cook the chopped tomatoes straight away in the pan. Having said that, I will definitely suggest you to try this technique as it really enhances the flavor and color of the curry.
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 12 oz/340 g paneer, cut in bite size chunks
- 1 teaspoon salt or more if needed, as per taste
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 medium size red onion, 5.65 oz/ 161 g, roughly chopped
- 1 medium size tomato, 5.65 oz/ 161 g, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon kashmiri chili powder
- ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
- ½ cup frozen or fresh green peas
- fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
- Place a heavy bottom pan on medium heat and pour 2 tablespoons of oil. Once the oil heats up, layer the paneer bites, sprinkle half of the salt and half the turmeric. Sauté it for about 5 minutes or until the paneer turns mild golden brown. Take it off the pan into a separate plate to be used later.
- To the same pan, pour rest of the oil. Sprinkle the sugar, cumin seeds and fennel seeds. Once it splatters, add the onion, followed by rest of salt and turmeric. Stir and cook until the onion turns mild golden. It will take about 3 to 5 minutes. Once done, switch off the heat and pour everything from the hot pan into a blender. Add the chopped tomato to the blender and blend it.
- Place the pan back on medium heat and pour the onion and tomato puree into the pan. Sprinkle with coriander powder and chili powder. Sauté and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the raw smell of the tomato is gone. Pour 1 cup of water, drop the fried paneer bites and let it simmer for 3 minutes. Then, add garam masala, drop the peas and cook for 1 more minute. Check for salt and add any, if required.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and serve warm.