Soft paneer and sweet garden peas in a tomato gravy topped with lots of cilantro. A simple and fresh mutter paneer recipe!
If you like paneer and you like sweet garden peas, combine the two and you get a mutter paneer recipe that's tops! Simple and fresh, it tastes of lazy winter days…
Mutter paneer was my mother’s regular when I was growing up in New Delhi, India. In those days, packaged or frozen food was not readily available, and people bought their veggies from street vendors who had heaps of fresh seasonal vegetables arranged neatly on their carts. When the subziwala (vegetable seller) called, the neighbourhood women, baskets in hand, came out and bought what they wanted ... but not before they had gone back and forth over the prices of everything! My mother was no exception and bought her choice of vegetables, after the requisite haggling of course. In the winter, it was always carrots, beetroot, okra and peas with a fistful of green chillis or cilantro thrown in for free (if the subziwala was in a good mood).
The task of shelling all those pea pods fell to me and I looked forward to it because the small and sweet ones would go right into my mouth! The rest went into the mutter paneer my mother made… with alarming frequency, now that I think about it.
Now I buy my peas frozen in a packet and don't even bother to thaw them. I throw them straight into the cooking masala and they turn out just fine. But whenever I cook my mom’s mutter paneer, I am reminded of those winter days …
This is a rather homely, everyday kind of dish. If you’re looking for a more sophisticated version, do try my Special Paneer!
1. Heat the oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. When they crackle, add the sliced onion and fry till they are reddish-brown.
2. Add the tomatoes and cook till they are soft (5 minutes).
3. Add the ginger-garlic and onion pastes, salt, coriander, red chilli, turmeric and garam masala powders. Sauté on a medium flame until the masala is cooked through (the oil will separate from the masala, 10 minutes). Add a splash of water if necessary.
4. Add the peas and half a glass of water to the masala. Lower the flame, mix everything and cover the pan. Cook for another 15-20 minutes.
5. Remove the lid and add the paneer cubes. Cook for 2 minutes, take off the heat and garnish with the chopped cilantro. Serve hot with rotis or rice.
1. Don’t bother thawing the peas if using frozen ones. I add them to the cooking masala straight from the packet and they turn out nice and soft.
2. As always, make sure the tomato is the reddest and ripest one you can find for a vibrant looking dish!