I rarely cook paneer in my kitchen and that explains the shortage of paneer based recipes on my blog. North Indians may be having a hard time to believe it but paneer is one of those ingredients that no one at home is going to miss even if I don't cook it ever in our lives. My husband who seemed to be in love with paneer when we were newly weds did a 180 degree turn by the time I acquired my own home and hearth and started cooking. He gives me 'been there, done that' look whenever I talk about paneer and prefers tofu instead. My daughter up until a year ago, wasn't even buying that 'paneer' is a variety of cheese. She literally calls it 'pan' 'eer' in her American accent. For her, the ones that don't melt into ooey gooey mess do not fall under the cheese category. With that much of support for paneer at home, I quit cooking paneer dishes after a while.
However recently things again took a 180 degree turn regarding paneer at home. This time with my daughter, in a good way. She has started to like paneer dishes after tasting it in our Haryanvi friend's home during our last India trip. She keeps reminiscing how good the matar paneer and dal makhni tasted in her home and surprisingly she has even started to choose paneer dishes when we dine out. And I am happily obliging her request for paneer dishes even at home.
The word 'matar' stands for peas in Hindi while the paneer is the acid-set, non melting, freshly made Indian variety cheese. Matar - Paneer is basically the peas and paneer being cooked in a spicy, tomato gravy. Matar paneer is one of those recipes which can make use of summer bounty of fresh peas and tomatoes along with some good quality panner for the fresh flavors to burst through. This north Indian delicacy is so popular that it is an ubiquitous part of Indian restaurants' buffets across the globe. It can be an easy choice when throwing parties based on Indian food since it is simple and quick to put together besides being nutritious and tasty. I like to keep the recipe simple but the addition of cashew paste or rounding off the dish with a dollop of cream would make it richer and suitable when one has company.
1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. oil
1 cup paneer cubes
1 tsp. grated ginger / ginger paste
1 big or 2 medium sized onions, chopped
1 big sized tomato, chopped
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
1/2 tsp. coriander powder
1/2 tsp. garam masala
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. red chili powder (The Kashmiri variety will add a nice color.)
Salt to taste
1/2 cup fresh / frozen peas / matar
1 tsp. kasuri methi, slightly crushed
Minced cilantro to garnish
* Heat a tbsp. oil in a pan and toast the paneer cubes until lightly golden through out and drain on paper towel. Keep the fried cubes aside until needed. (This step of shallow frying paneer is optional.)
* To the same oil, add grated ginger and fry until golden. Next add onion and fry until lightly golden. Then add tomatoes and cook until mush.
* Grind the onion-tomato mixture finely.
* Heat another tsp. oil to the pan and add cumin seeds. When they start to change shade, add the ground paste, turmeric and the remaining spice powders. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes.
* Next add peas, salt and about 2/3 cup water to the pan and stir. Let it simmer for about 3 to 4 minutes.
* Finally add the paneer cubes and crushed kasuri methi and simmer the mixture for another couple of minutes. Garnish with cilantro.
* Serve matar paneer warm with rotis / puris.
This goes to blogging marathon #57 under the theme 'Side Dishes' and check here to find out what other marathoners are cooking today.