One of our favorite meals is peas with Indian cheese, or Mattar Paneer. I actually developed my ground Punjabi Masala to make my life simpler when whipping up Mattar Paneer for my family. I've now done all the work for you! This masala is a curry starter - not really a simmering sauce like our other sauces including Tikka Masala. You don't just dump this in and go. You also add in a few other spices But, the heavy lifting is done for you! Just a cup or two mixed in with veggies and protein and some water and spices can give you an authentic North Indian Punjabi meal in minutes of work rather than hours of prep and cooking.
The recipe here is for the whole jar. I typically cook it up and then freeze half my batch for the next week. (How much lazier can I get, right? Shhhh. Don't tell my family.) You can also make a half recipe - just scale all of your ingredients down.
You can purchase three jars on my site or head to our many retailers. Currently, we are on the shelf in Chicago and parts of Illinois, Wisconsin (Milwaukee & Madison), Minnesota, and Kansas City, Missouri. Please support us by purchasing our stuff AND support our retailers by buying from them! Click here for a current list of where we are sold.
This sauce once opened will last up to 2 weeks in your fridge. If you have any left over consider freezing it in ice cub trays or in small containers to pull out as needed. You can also use this base to make tons of other dishes, including quick stir fries like Aloo Gobi. Not to worry, we'll get to that, but first ...
PUNJABI MASALA Mattar Paneer
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (canola, grapeseed)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 black cardamom pods (optional)
1 medium cinnamon stick
2 pounds of paneer, diced (6 to 7 cups)
4 cups frozen peas (slightly defrosted)
2 - 4 Thai or serrano chiles, stems removed and sliced thin
1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves crushed in hand to release flavor (optional)
2 tablespoons garam masala
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 tablespoon red chile powder or cayenne
1 16 oz. jar Indian As Apple Pie PUNJABI MASALA
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons unsalted tomato paste
6 cups water
1 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Heat oil over medium-high heat In a large, roomy pot or Dutch oven. Add cumin, cloves, black cardamom, and cinnamon. Cook 40 seconds. One of the biggest mistakes folks make when cooking Indian is to use a small pot. Our curries need room to cook and expand.
Add paneer. Cook 2 - 3 minutes until slightly brown. Stir to prevent sticking. Growing up, our moms fried the paneer. You can do that, or avoid the calories and pan fry. I actually prefer paneer not deep fried now.
Add peas, fresh chiles, fenugreek leaves, garam masala, coriander powder, red chile powder, contents of 1 jar of PUNJABI MASALA, salt, and tomato paste. Cook until heated through, 1 - 2 minutes, stirring. As the peas defrost they release a little moisture, which is perfect here to pull any paneer sticking to the bottom of your pot off.
Slowly add water. Bring to a boil, turn heat down, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Place lid on pot slightly ajar to release steam. Check to make sure nothing overflows.
Your curry will be ready when all the ingredients start to pull together, the oil starts to separate on the top, and the curry thickens up slightly. If it looks too thick, just add another 1/2 cup to 1 cup water and follow the same process. Bring it to a boil and let it heat through and thicken slightly.
Add cilantro and serve over rice or with Indian bread like roti or naan with a side of lemony kala namak onions and cucumber. And, watch your little ones gobble it all up.