November 15, 2020
What did one pea whisper to the other? mutter, mutter, mutter, mutter.
This is always my go-to joke that helps folks remember what matar means - green peas in Hindi and pronounced like the English word mutter. Paneer is homemade cheese (found in more mainstream grocers) made like a ricotta and then drained of moisture. In this dish, the peas and paneer are simmered with spices in a ginger-garlic-tomato sauce.
Making this typically complex dish is incredibly easy with a jar of our punjabi masala. I actually developed the recipe to make my life simpler when whipping up matar paneer, which my family insists on eating at least once a week. My bar as a mom every week was seemingly determined by how good the matar paneer! Instead of fighting it, I created my base, sent the recipe to our co-packer, and voila - pure magic in a jar.
The recipe below uses some extra specialized spices. You don't need to have every single one, but if you do and make it exactly as I suggest, you'll eat matar paneer as we do in our own Punjabi households.
Twenty Minute Punjabi Masala Matar Paneer
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (canola or grapeseed)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 black cardamom pods (optional)
1 2-inch long cinnamon stick
1 pound paneer, diced in 1-inch cubes (4 cups)
3 cups frozen peas
2 - 8 Thai or serrano chiles, stems removed and thinly sliced
1/4 cup unsalted tomato paste
2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves crushed in hand to release flavor (optional)
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 tablespoon red chile powder or cayenne pepper
1 16 oz. jar Indian As Apple Pie punjabi masala
1 tablespoon salt
4 cups water
1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
1. In a deep, heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
2. Once the oil is hot, add the cumin, cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon stick. Cook for 1 minute until the seeds sizzle and turn reddish brown.
3. Add the paneer. Stir and cook for 2 minutes until slightly brown.
4. Add the peas and fresh chiles. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
5. Add the tomato paste. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
6. Add the fenugreek, garam masala, coriander, red chile, punjabi masala, and salt. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.
7. Add the water. Bring the mixture to a boil, turn the heat down, and simmer for 20 minutes, covering the pot with a lid that is slightly ajar to release steam and prevent overflow. Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice, roti, or naan. The curry will be ready when all the ingredients pull together, the oil starts to separate on top, and the gravy thickens. If it looks too thick, just add another 1/2 cup water and heat it through.
Watch this video to learn about fenugreek!
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June 27, 2022