Chances are, if you're a regular patron of Indian restaurants, then you've definitely had your fair share of Matar Paneer. If you're one of the lucky ones to get invited to an Indian home for dinner, then there are even more chances that you've been served it there as well. And if you've ever compared the two, you'd notice that they're quite different.
Usually, Matar Paneer made at home for everyday meals, is a no-fuss, pretty simple recipe - like the one I have here. Restaurant-style Matar Paneer, however, is a bit more special. The curry is often richer in texture due to the addition of cream or yogurt. The cubed paneer pieces are also often lightly fried to give it a slight crisp along the edges while still being soft on the inside. Just these minor changes to the recipe take this dish to a whole new level and make it a perfect addition to your dinner table.
During the Indian festive season, vegetarian food generally takes center stage and Matar Paneer is one of my go-to recipes to serve at any get-together. It is perfect to enjoy with a side of Jeera Pulao as well as some fresh warm Naan. This Diwali too, like all others in recent years, I'll be making this Matar Paneer Curry and serving it along with some crispy Puris. Since Diwali falls bang in the middle of the week this time around, I'll probably just make some Sooji Halwa for dessert. This combination of Matar Paneer, Puris and Halwa is a favourite with the three of us and I know we'll all enjoy it immensely.
What does your Diwali menu look like this year? I'd love to hear what you love cooking/eating with your loved ones.
Restaurant-style Matar Paneer Curry (Paneer and Peas Curry)
- 2 tablespoon light cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 4-5 black peppercorns
- 4-5 whole green cardamom pods
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon red chilli powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- salt to taste
- 2 medium tomatoes finely chopped
- 500 gms paneer diced into bite-sized cubes and lightly sauteed in a bit of oil till the edges start to brown
- 2 cups frozen peas thawed
- ½ cup plain yogurt beaten till smooth
- 1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves
- ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
- water as needed
- finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
- Heat oil in a deep heavy-bottomed pan on medium-high heat and add in cumin seeds, black peppercorns, cardamom pods, and cinnamon stick. As soon as the cumin seeds start to sizzle, add in ginger, garlic and onion, and fry for 2-3 minutes till lightly browned.
- Stir in the spices and tomato paste, and mix everything well to combine.
- Season with salt, and add in chopped tomatoes. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionaly, till tomatoes start to pulp and blend well with the spice mixture.
- Mix in the fried paneer pieces and peas, and cook covered for 2-3 minutes on low heat.
- Gently stir in the beaten yogurt and mix well. Add in the dried fenugreek leaves and garam masala powder as well as a splash of water, and cook covered for another 3-5 minutes. If you prefer it a bit more saucy, add some more water and bring it to a slow simmer.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and serve warm with fresh rotis or a side of rice.
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