Paneer was the bane of my existence when I was a child (read here). My mom often made Matar Paneer which my siblings loved but which didn’t quite have the desired effect on me. Those of you who are familiar with Indian cuisine are probably no stranger to this classic which seems to be a standard fixture on Indian restaurant menus from Patiala to Pittsburgh.
Over the years I have succumbed to this delicacy’s many charms. However, my efforts to recreate this in a healthier vein in my kitchen had largely been unsuccessful. I had started with my mom’s recipe which, much as I love my mom and her cooking, I found wanting (sorry Mom).
Then I came across http://www.metacafe.com/watch/871561/matar_paneer/ and the outlook brightened. Below is my take on this version of Matar Paneer. It is a lighter version which, in my opinion tastes pretty darn good. The validation came to me from my older daughter, who happens to be my biggest critic. After eating this version she said that while the orange paneer was her favorite, this was pretty good too. As far as I am concerned, that will do. Enjoy.
INGREDIENTS (enough to serve 4)
Cooking oil (I used Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
2 tbsp cashew pieces
1/2 onion – chopped
1 tsp garlic – minced
1 tsp ginger – minced
2 tomatoes – diced
1 bay leaf
4 green cardamom pods
1 stick cinnamon
1 tsp kasoori methi (fenugreek – you can get this at an Indian store)
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp cumin + 1 tsp coriander seeds – ground
1 tsp Garam Masala
Salt to taste
8 oz cubed Paneer
1. Heat the oil on medium heat (1-2 tbsp).
2. Add cashews and cook till they just start to turn golden brown.
3. Add onions and saute till the onion starts to become translucent.
4. Put in garlic and ginger and cook for 3-4 minutes.
5. At this point the garlic+ginger+onion+cashew mixture should not be smelling raw but should not be browning. Add the tomatoes.
6. Cook till tomatoes are pulpy.
7. Remove from heat, cool and puree.
8. Take a saucepan and heat 1 tbsp of cooking oil.
9. Saute the bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon till the cardamom pods start popping. The bay leaf should be barely starting to brown.
10. Add the puree and add water to make the gravy of the consistency needed.
11. Bring to a boil and reduce heat.
12. Add the kasoori methi, red chili powder and the cumin/coriander ground powder.
13. Cook for 6 minutes on medium heat.
14. Add the frozen peas and continue cooking till the peas are cooked through but before they start falling apart.
15. Put the Garam Masala and Paneer in the mixture.
16. Add salt to taste.
17. Let it simmer for 5 minutes on low heat.
18. Serve hot with boiled rice or roti.