January 25, 2023
What did one pea whisper to the other? mutter...mutter...mutter is the joke that always accompanied this dish for my girls when they were little. The word for pea in Hindi is mattar, pronounced like the English word for whisper. Now you understand the name of this dish! It's truly the sole reason I created our jarred Punjabi masala - I wanted to make a sauce that would make peas and Indian cheese simple because my family (especially my husband) loves mattar paneer so much that he insists on eating it weekly. And, now he can without me losing my mind. The recipe below is the result of weeks of experimenting and getting all the ingredients and cook times perfect. I hope you'll pick up a jar of our masala and give it a try. It's the closest you'll get to homemade mattar paneer, I promise. And, not to worry, I'll have a 'from scratch' recipe for you soon.
Stovetop: Mattar Paneer with Our Punjabi Masala
Makes 8 cups
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (canola or grapeseed)
2 pinches hing (asafoetida)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 black cardamom pods
1 (2-inch-long) cinnamon stick
1 pound paneer, diced into 1-inch cubes (4 cups)
3 cups frozen peas, slightly defrosted
1-8 Thai or serrano chiles, stems removed and thinly sliced
1 cup Indian as Apple Pie Punjabi masala
¼ cup unsalted tomato paste
2 tablespoons kasoori methi (dried fenugreek), hand crushed to release flavor
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon coriander powder
2 teaspoons red chile powder or cayenne
1 tablespoon salt
5 cups water
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
1. In a deep, heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Typically, I add more oil, but Punjabi masala is made with oil, so I cut back. Once the oil is hot, add the hing, cumin, cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon stick. Stir and cook for 1 minute until the seeds sizzle and turn reddish brown.
2. Add the paneer. Stir and cook for 2 minutes until just brown. Add the peas and fresh chiles. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. If using frozen peas, the moisture will help deglaze the pan. If not add 1-2 tablespoons of water.
3. Add the Punjabi masala, tomato paste, kasoori methi, garam masala, coriander, red chile, and salt. Stir, mashing down the paste slightly with the back of a spatula and cook for 2 minutes.
4. Add the water and stir. Bring the mixture to a boil, turn the heat down, and simmer partially covered for 25 minutes. Turn the heat off, add the cilantro, cover the pot completely, and let it sit for 3 minutes on the same burner. Remove the cardamom pods and cinnamon stick or leave them in for flavor and eat around them. All the other spices including the cloves are edible, though you can also remove and discard the cloves if you prefer. Serve with basmati rice, roti, or naan.
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November 28, 2023