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Matar Paneer

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Nik Sharma

Hey Friends, I’m a multi-award-winning and best-selling cookbook author and photographer.

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Matar Paneer

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One of the classics and a popular dish I grew up eating often at home in India was matar paneer, or paneer with peas. I love this hearty dish’s comforting textures and flavors, which is a big reason I make it at least once a month. This is an elegant dish to serve at dinners, and I love to serve it with hot naan, flatbreads like parathas, or rice.

  • Yield: 4 to 6

Ingredients

For the Paneer

2 Tbsp neutral oil, such as grapeseed

8 oz/230 g paneer, cut into 1/2 in/2.5 cm cubes

For the Gravy

4 Tbsp/60 ml ghee or neutral oil such as grapeseed

3 whole green cardamom, cracked

1 medium/about 200 g yellow or white onion

fine sea salt

2 Tbsp garlic, grated

2 in/5 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 large/about 200 g tomato, diced

2 Tbsp tomato paste

2 in/5 cm cinnamon stick

1 bay leaf

1 1/2 tsp garam masala, homemade or store-bought

1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (See Notes)

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp kasoori methi

1 tsp sugar

1/4 cup/60 ml plain unsweetened yogurt

1 cup/120 g fresh peas

1 green chilli such as serrano, jalapeno, or Bird’s eye, sliced in half lengthwise

2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Instructions

For the Paneer

  1. Heat a non-stick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and sauté the paneer until golden-brown and crisp, about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and keep aside. 

For the Gravy

  1. Heat 2 Tbsp ghee in a medium Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the cardamom and sauté until fragrant, 30 to 45 seconds. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and sauté until they turn translucent and soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, and sauté for 1 minute, until fragrant. Fold in the tomatoes and tomato paste. Cook covered, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down, 15 to 20 minutes. 
  2. Transfer the mixture to a blender and pulse over high speed until smooth. 
  3. Wipe the Dutch oven clean and add the remaining oil. Heat over medium-high. Add the cinnamon, bay leaf, garam masala, Kashmiri chilli powder, coriander, and turmeric and cook until fragrant, 30 to 45 seconds.
  4. Fold in the ground onion-tomato mixture with 1 cup/240 ml water. Stir in the kasoori methi and sugar. Add the paneer and peas, cover with a lid, and bring to a boil; reduce the heat to low and cook until the gravy thickens, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the yogurt. Taste and season with salt if needed. 
  5. Garnish with the chilli and the cilantro. Serve hot. Leftovers can be stored for up to 4 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator or up to a month in the freezer.

Notes

  • You can skip frying the paneer and add it straight to the gravy at Step 4. 
  • Airfrying paneer works excellently and is my favorite method of cooking paneer. Set the air fryer to 400F/200C and cook the paneer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for 15 to 20 minutes. Flip them halfway through cooking and cook until they turn golden brown and crisp. You will not need to add oil, as the paneer releases the oil trapped inside during cooking. 
  • Kashmiri chilli substitute: Use 3/4 tsp ground smoked sweet paprika + 1/4 tsp ground cayenne for every 1 tsp of Kashmiri chilli powder

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