I got out the good china and fancy napkins for this one. Not that matar paneer is an elaborate dish or extremely challenging. Instead, this recipe is a long, long overdue thank-you to fellow writer and Indian cuisine lover, Lora Shinn.
But why am I polishing the silverware and wiping spots off the crystal? First, Lora’s also a professional photographer and has given me lots of photography tips and pointers over the past year or two. And second, when my camera was dying and she happened to be upgrading hers, she sold me her digital SLR. At a real deal.
So, this makes Lora partially responsible for my photos going from this embarrassing splatter…
I still have a long way to go, especially with food styling, but at least I no longer subject you to over-exposed, low-contrast, semi-focused, flashed-wasted photos. And for that we should all be grateful!
So, now you can see why I thought Aunt Ruby’s fine china was called for.
As a thank you, I promised to create and post about Lora’s favourite dish. Of course, that was before I knew she’d want something with peas in it. But a promise is a promise.
After perusing dozens of recipes and thumbing through all my cookbooks, I decided to use the spicing from Bal Arenson’s No-Butter Chicken after a reader mentioned she tried the recipe with tofu instead of chicken. And paneer is the tofu of Indian cuisine. (I think. Don’t quote me. I just made that up because I’m tired and full of cough medicine.) So I fiddled a little, and came up with matar paneer.
And you know what? The results were so good I didn’t even mind the peas. So I have something else to thank Lora for. At last I have found a pea recipe that both Andrew and I will eat without grumbling.
Anyway, let’s all give Lora a big thanks. On the count of three say, “THANK YOU, LORA!”
1, 2, 3…
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 2 large onions, minced
- 2 Tbsp garlic, grated
- 2 Tbsp gingerroot, grated
- 3 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 Tbsp Garam Masala (click for recipe)
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup paneer, cubed
- 2 cups peas, fresh or frozen
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup cream
- Heat a non-stick skillet over high. Add oil then onions, and sauté until dark golden brown.
- Add the garlic and ginger, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and cumin seeds and cook for 30 seconds.
- Reduce the heat to low, add the garam masala, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, turmeric, and salt, and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the paneer and cook another 5 minutes.
- Add the peas, yogurt and cream. Cook 2 to 4 minutes or until the peas are just cooked.
- Sprinkled with fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.