Felt like Indian food tonight, so we'll try some Mattar Paneer. I usually make a Chicken Tikka Masala but wanted to go for the peas because my daughter loves her some peas. We rarely order Indian food anymore because frankly, it's too expensive and it's not any better than making it at home.
Unfortunately, you're going to have to go to an Indian market to get the paneer (or make it yourself, but that's for another post) and the fenugreek leaves for sure, if not the garam masala, rice and naan/paratha/roti as well. For that, I apologize, but there's not way around the trip if you're going to cook Indian food at home. It's fun and pretty cheap so go for it!
There's a couple of extraneous steps here that can be avoided (the onion paste and tomato puree), but I was following a youtube video that had the steps in it, so I decided to follow along. It's not that big of a deal and actually looks like a good addition to the recipe.
14 oz package of paneer, diced
1.5 cups frozen peas
1 cup ginger/garlic/onion paste
1/2 an onion
5 cloves of garlic and equal amount of ginger
1/4 cup cashews
2 cups tomato puree
2 Tbs fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) (2 tsp ground)
2 bay leaves
1 Tbs paprika
1 Tbs garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne papper (optional for the kids in the house, I usually use a pinch and adjust from there)
1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
2 tsp brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream (or half & half)
1 Tbs cilantro (for garnish)
First we'll make the ginger/garlic/onion paste.
Put some oil in a pan and let it come up to medium/high heat. Pour in a teaspoon of cumin seeds and let them cook until they darken a little and you can smell them.
Roughly chop half an onion and a shallot and toss them in.
(I forgot to put the cumin seeds in first, so I just put them in the middle until they became fragrant, oops!)
Once the onions/shallots are translucent (5 minutes, tops) add an equal amount of ginger and garlic. I used 5 cloves of garlic and matched that by weight with ginger (25g of each, if you care)
Saute the ginger and garlic until you can begin to smell them. 2 minutes. Toss in 1/4 cup roughly chopped cashews.
Saute another 2 minutes or so.
Throw the whole thing into a food processor or blender.
I buzzed mine for about 60 seconds. Save 1 cup for the recipe. I only had 1/4 cup more so save it if you want.
Chop your paneer into cubes. I like to cut them into smallish cubes so my daughter can eat them easier, but it's more traditional to leave them a little bigger.
Get a large saute pan at medium/high heat and fry the paneer lightly in a tablespoon of oil. Don't over fry them or they will be really hard.
Add the bay leaves, the fenugreek leaves and the ginger/garlic/onion paste. (I grind my fenugreek leaves. I know it's not traditional, but they can get weirdly stringy.)
Add the tomato puree.
Add your spices (1 Tbl paprika, 1 Tbl garam masala, 1 tsp turmeric, and cayenne papper)
Add the salt.
Cook this mash for a while. You want to actually cook the spices that you added. This is typical for Indian cuisine. I let this go for 5-7 minutes.
When time's up, add the peas.
Add 1 cup of water.
Stir and judge if you need more water. I ended up using another full cup of water in 1/2 cup doses.
Let this cook another 5-7 minutes.
Add the brown sugar and 1/4 cup of cream. Mix well to combine.
Check for salt one more time. I ended up adding a bit more.
Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
Serve with jasmine rice and some naan/paratha/roti. We prefer paratha around here.