Matar Paneer is a very popular North Indian curry. It has a beautiful flavor balance from all the earthy spices. 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.
If you want to make fresh paneer at home, check out this Homemade Paneer Recipe
Matar Paneer - Very Popular North Indian curry
I am sure we all have our way of preparing this dish, but we always like to try a new version.
The steps I follow and the ingredients I use are very basic, everyday Indian spices.
Of late, I started using the not so famous spice called dagar ka phool. It adds a gorggeous umami flavor to the dish that you will absolutely love!
Dagar Phool grows on the bark of the trees, and it is an exotic lichen also known as Black Stone Flower, Dagarful, Kalpasi, Kallupachi or Dagar da Phool, used in Indian foods.
Just like most exotic spices, a little goes a long way, so add very little amount of this spice straight on hot ghee and the aroma will make you hungry.
With Matar Paneer 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 or try making at home. It's really easy. If you can make the dish using homemade fresh paneer, the taste will obviously be much better.
When paneer sits at 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 the technique of blending the cooked onion and tomatoes gives the gorgeous rich orange hue to the dish.
Matar Paneer (Green Peas and Paneer Curry)
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 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 teaspoon dagar ka phool spice (stone flower)
- 1 teaspoon kasoori methi - dried fenugreek leaves
- 3 green cardamoms
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 garlic cloves (roughly chopped)
- ½ inch fresh ginger (roughly chopped)
- 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
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream (optional)
- To a heavy bottom pan on medium heat, add the oil and once it heats up, add the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, garlic, ginger, and sauté for a few seconds.
- Then scatter the onion, season with salt add the turmeric and cook until it's soften. Then add the tomatoes followed by chili powder, coriander powder and keep cooking until it's softened. Should take about 5 minutes.
- Once the raw smell of the spice is gone, take everything from the pan to a blend and blend it. The texture doesn't have to be completely smooth.
- To the same pan, pour the ghee, sprinkle the sugar, dagar ka phool, cinnamom sticks, kassori methi and green cardamoms. Once the spices releases the aroma in few seconds, pour the blended onion tomato. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.
- Drop the paneer cubes, and frozen or fresh peas and cook for 3 minutes. Check for salt and add more if needed.
- Finally, add garam masala and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
- For extra rich and cremy texture, add ¼ cup heavy cream and stir it around. This step is optional.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and serve warm.