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Matar Paneer
Balancing different flavors (sweet, spicy, sour, hot, salty, etc.) in food is important for the well-being of body and mind. A food with well balanced flavors tastes good, satisfies cravings, and promotes digestion and absorption of maximum amount of nutrients.

When the mild-tasting paneer, sweet peas, tangy tomatoes, hot red chili powder, and some basic herbs and warm spices are cooked together in the right proportion, it creates a dish called Matar Paneer that is beautiful, delicious, and pleases your palate.

Matar Paneer goes well with all rice dishes and Indian breads.

Happy Cooking!
Servers 6 to 8
Paneer (Cottage Cheese)
10 oz, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 medium, chopped
1 inch, peeled and coarsely chopped
Olive Oil
3 tablespoons
Turmeric Powder
1/2 teaspoon
Cumin Powder
1 teaspoon
Red Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon or according to taste
Tomato Ketchup
1 teaspoon
1 1/2 teaspoons or according to taste
Frozen or Fresh Peas
2 cups (8 oz cup), thawed if using frozen
Garlic Cloves
5, peeled and coarsely chopped
Red Tomato
1 medium, chopped
Whole Milk
1/2 cup (8 oz cup)
Coriander Powder
3 teaspoon
Garam Masala Powder
1/2 teaspoon
Chaat Masala (Optional)
1/2 teaspoon
Dried Fenugreek Leaves
1 tablespoon, crushed
1 Cup (8 oz cup)
Step 1
Cut the paneer (cottage cheese) with a knife into 1/2 inch cubes. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil (or another cooking oil of your choice) in a non-stick pan on medium heat. Spread the paneer cubes in hot oil and fry on one side until the cubes turn golden brown. Then, with the help of a spatula or a spoon, gently flip the paneer cubes and fry on the other side for about 2 minutes or until golden brown.

Take the paneer cubes out of oil, and spread them on a tissue paper to absorb extra oil.
Step 2
In the same pan used for frying paneer, add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil, and heat it on medium. Add the chopped onions and fry until the onions start to turn translucent and slightly brown. Then add the chopped ginger and garlic, and fry for another 1 to 2 minutes to let the aroma of ginger and garlic combine with the onions.
Step 3
Add the chopped tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook until the tomatoes get mushy and mix well with onions, ginger, and garlic.
Step 4
Stop the heat and cool this mixture. Once cool enough, blend this mixture into a thin paste and keep aside.
Step 5
Pour half cup of whole milk in a bowl and mix the turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, red chili powder, garam masala powder, chaat masala (if using), and salt to a thin paste. Add some more milk if required.

Note: Chaat masala adds extra kick to the dish, but it is not a required ingredient.
Step 6
Use the same pan to heat 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil on a medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium and add the spice mixed with whole milk in the oil and cook for about 5 to 6 minutes, until the oil separates from the spices. Keep stirring the mixture frequently to prevent it from burning. You will see oil bubbles on the top of the spice mixture, when it's ready. In this process, you may need to add a few tablespoons of water or milk to prevent the spices from burning.

Note: When you fry ground spices in oil, the flavors from the spices are released and distributed more efficiently in the dish. This technique helps in enhancing the mild flavor of paneer and sweet flavor of peas.
Step 7
Increase the heat to medium-high and add the onion-ginger-garlic-tomato paste to the cooked spices. Cook for another 5 to 6 minutes to combine all ingredients with each other and create a nice thick sauce. Keep stirring frequently, and add some water if the mixture gets too dry.
Step 8
Now add the peas to the sauce and mix well. Cover the pan and cook on medium heat until peas are tender. It takes about 7 to 10 minutes to cook the frozen (thawed) peas. Fresh peas might take longer to cook.
Step 9
Once the peas are cooked in the sauce, add tomato ketchup, dried fenugreek leaves, and fried paneer. Mix gently and add 1 cup of water. You can adjust the quantity of water for a thinner or thicker sauce.

Note: When cooked with spices, dried fenugreek leaves add subtle bitterness and pleasant aroma to the sauce-based dishes. Tomato ketchup adds color and brightness to the dish.

Cover the pan, and set the heat back to medium-high to bring the sauce to a gentle boil. Lower the heat and simmer for a minute.

You Matar Paneer is ready. Serve hot with any rice dish or Indian breads.

Share your thoughts and questions!

Priya Sondhi
I liked your note on balancing flavors in food. Your idea of frying ground spices in oil to release and distribute flavors in the dish really worked for me. My matar paneer never tasted so yummy before. Thank you for the tip.
Bhawana Srivastava
I'm glad the recipe worked for you. Thanks!