Matar Paneer
45 Min

Matar Paneer

In the eighties when I first arrived in North America, every Indian restaurant had Matar paneer, an old-world dryish peas and paneer curry along with saag paneer as an essential part of the menu. Invented during the royal Mughal era of India, yet not a part of home-cooking repertoire, this went on to become standard restaurant fare. I seldom made it, very rarely ordered it at a restaurant and certainly never served it at my places. Fast forward to this spring when I was walking through the newly renovated farmer’s market on Airline drive, I spotted a woman sitting in the back of the store shelling fresh pea pods. I purchased a few packages of fresh peas from her, came home and started cooking peas the way I remember them from back home, always fresh, never frozen. In rice, as a stuffing for potato cakes or samosas and with eggs for breakfast. And I finally made Matar paneer and realized why it was such a popular dish ~ because it was so tasty and satisfying. So, here is a decadent rendition of it, with cashews and raisins. Enjoy it with a warm roti or paratha or over plain rice.

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Cook Time

45 Minutes



Step 1
Preheat the oven to 400F. In a large bowl, combine the paneer chunks with olive oil and black pepper and spread them on a greased baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until the paneer has golden brown edges. Set aside.
Step 2
In a medium sized stockpot or Dutch oven over high heat, warm the ghee and pop the cumin seeds. Once the oil is hot, this should only take a few seconds, add the minced onions. Cook on high for 3 to 4 minutes or until the onions sweat and start to reduce. Lower the heat and continue cooking the onions until they have a golden-brown color.
Step 3
Next, add the garlic, cook for a minute, then add the turmeric, chile powder, coriander seeds, salt, and tomatoes. Cook this masala for 2 to 3 minutes then add the heavy cream and 2 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer for 10 to 12 minutes. The fat should rise to the top.
Step 4
Add the paneer and continue cooking the sauce for another 2 to 3 minutes. The paneer will absorb the liquids and get plump and almost pillowy. Add the peas, ginger, currants, cashews and garam masala and cook for just another 2 to 3 minutes. The peas cook very quickly. Turn the heat off and let the curry rest for an hour or so before serving.
1.5 pounds paneer, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup ghee
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 cup minced onions
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon red chile powder
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup crushed tomatoes (canned)
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 cups fresh shelled peas (roughly 14 ounces)
1/4 cup raisins or currants
1/2 cup whole cashews
1 teaspoon garam masala

Notes & Variations

  • Replace the paneer for tofu for dairy-free version of the curry and replace ghee and heavy cream with olive oil and coconut milk respectively.
  • If using fresh tomatoes, use 2 cups chopped tomatoes.
  • In the absence of garam masala, use a combination of ground cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, and nutmeg with a hint of clove.
45 Min

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