I absolutely love mattar paneer. However what is really disheartening is to see the way it is served in many restaurants – Either it has tons of red chilli powder making it too spicy or too many tomatoes making it too tangy or too much cream giving it a weird sweet curry feel or too much oil making it very unhealthy. I have learnt to make this recipe with different spices and use neither red chilli powder nor cream and very less oil.
I truly believe the simpler you keep your food and the fresher ingredients you use, the more flavorful and fulfilling the meal will turn out. So anyway for this recipe try to get hold of some good quality spices which in today’s day and age are available in any Indian or Persian store in countries all over the world (unless you are in some very deserted primitive location 🙂 ) I have created an entire spice box and love adding more spices to it.
1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
4 medium sized tomatoes
2 medium sized onions
1 green chilli
6-7 crushed garlic cloves
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 black cardamoms
2-3 green cardamoms
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon combined of fennel seeds, poppy seeds, fenugreek seeds and onion seeds (Don’t worry if you can’t get all these seeds. This was from trial and error and the combination of theses seeds gave a lovely flavor so I have decided to continue using it)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
Salt to taste
2 spoons cooking oil
Chopped coriander leaves for garnishing
In a large non-stick pan, add 1 spoon of oil. Once heated add cumin seeds and combination mix of fennel, poppy, fenugreek and onion seeds until they crackle. Then add the green chilli, onions and turmeric powder until they turn translucent. Next add in the tomatoes and a little salt. Cover and cook for 5-7 min until the the tomatoes and onions and soft and cooked. Blend the above mixture – This will be the base of the dish.
Next use the second spoon of oil in the pan. Once heated add in the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cloves, black cardamoms and green cardamoms in that order and let them sizzle for a bit. Add in the puree of tomatoes and onions and let is cook for 5 -7 min to infuse in all the flavors. Adjust the salt as per your taste. Next add in the peas and again cook for a few minutes. Finally add in the paneer and cook for 2-3 minutes until it turns spongy and is well coated with the blend. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve with warm flat bread or chapatis or pita bread.