Matar paneer, a popular Indian curry dish made with green peas and cottage cheese, is from the versatile Northern Indian cuisine that has many different (and delicious) variations. I’m sharing our family recipe of a flavorful and simple home-style mutter paneer.
In a grinder or blender take all the ingredients listed under "masala paste" - onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, green chilies, cashews, coriander leaves, black peppercorns, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander seeds and cloves.
Grind all the ingredients to a smooth paste. If needed you can add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water while blending.
There should be no small chunks or pieces of cashews in the paste.
Set the ground paste aside.
Heat oil in a 2-litre pressure cooker. Add the cumin seeds. Fry the cumin seeds until they splutter. (Read below on how to cook in a pan and Instant pot.)
Then add the ground masala paste. Mix well. Take care while sautéing as the paste splutters. If there is too much spluttering, then cover partly with a lid until the spluttering stops.
Saute for 10 to 12 minutes or more on a medium-low heat until the oil separates from the paste. The paste will also become thick and look glossy.
Add all the ground spices - turmeric powder, red chili powder, garam masala powder. Mix well.
If adding cream or malai, you can add now. Stir and saute for a minute.
Then add the green peas or matar. Mix again.
Add water and season with salt.
Cooking in stove-top pressure cooker
Cover the cooker tightly and pressure cook for about 2 to 3 whistles or 9 to 10 minutes.
When the pressure drops on its own, open the lid of the pressure cooker.
If the curry appears thin, then simmer till it reaches the desired consistency. The consistency is medium and neither thick nor thin.
If the gravy appears thick, then add some water and simmer for some minutes.
Add the paneer cubes. Mix well or simmer for a few seconds until the paneer cubes are cooked. For a slight sweet taste, you can also add sugar just before you add the paneer cubes.
Don't overcook after adding paneer, as they will becomes dense and hard.
Garnish matar paneer with coriander leaves and serve hot or warm.
Instant Pot Matar Paneer Recipe
Make the masala paste with tomatoes, spices, herbs and cashews as listed above.
Press the sauté button of your Instant pot and let the display show “hot”. Add oil to the inner steel pot. Crackle the cumin seeds first.
Add the ground masala paste and sauté stirring often until it thickens and looks glossy. You can press the sauté button twice to bring the setting to less, if in case the pot becomes too hot.
Add the turmeric powder, red chilli powder and garam masala powder. Mix and sauté for a minute.
Add the green peas, 1 cup of water, salt and combine thoroughly, deglazing if needed. Press the cancel button.
Seal the lid and position the valve to sealing. Press the pressure cook/manual button and set the time to 3 minutes.
Pressure cook on high pressure. After you hear the beep sound when the cooking is complete, wait for 5 minutes and then do a quick pressure release.
Press the cancel button. Add paneer cubes and mix well. Finally add some coriander leaves and mix again. Serve hot or warm.
Making mutter paneer in a pan on stove-top
First heat the oil in a heavy pan. Fry the cumin seeds.
Add the masala paste and sauté stirring often until the oil releases from the sides.
Add the ground spice powders and mix well.
Add the green peas, salt and about 1.5 to 2 cups water. Mix again.
Close the pan and cook the green peas until they soften. If the curry becomes too thick or dries up while cooking, add some more water.
When the peas are cooked, add the paneer. Mix and switch off heat. To add more flavors, at this step together with the paneer, you can add crushed kasuri methi.
Garnish with coriander leaves and serve.
Matar paneer goes well with Indian flatbreads like roti, paratha, naan. It also tastes nice with cumin rice and steamed basmati rice.
You can also eat it with puri (Indian fried bread). A side vegetable salad or raita pairs really well with the combination of matar paneer and paratha.
Storage and leftovers
If you have any leftovers refrigerate in an airtight container for 1 to 2 days. The curry will thicken after cooling and so while reheating, add a bit of water to loosen the consistency.
Tomatoes: Add tomatoes that are ripe and sweet. If the tomatoes are sour, the curry will have a sour taste. To balance the sourness add some sugar or a bit of light cream.
Creamier Version: For a slightly creamier version, I add cashews, but these can be skipped. To give some citrus notes to the curry, I also add coriander leaves (cilantro). If you are not a fan of cilantro, omit them.
No onion no garlic version: In my recipe you can skip both garlic and onions. To mimic their flavors, include a generous pinch of asafoetida (hing) after adding cumin seeds and before adding the masala paste. Mix it well and then add the ground masala paste. Make sure not to burn the asafoetida while frying it in oil.
Scaling: You can make a small batch or a large batch by easily scaling the recipe.
Make-ahead: If you are pressed for time, grind/blend the masala paste and freeze it for a couple of days or refrigerate overnight, so that you can easily cook the matar paneer gravy the next day.
Fats: For a richer version, you can make matar paneer in ghee (clarified butter).
Vegan option: Replace paneer with tofu for a vegan matar paneer.
Spiciness: To make the curry spicy, increase the amount of green chillies and red chilli powder.