Matar Paneer

Matar Paneer - The Messy Baker

26 Oct Matar Paneer

Matar Paneer -

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…

Before shot

to this.

Matar Paneer -

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…

Matar Paneer -

Matar Paneer
Recipe type: Vegetarian
Cuisine: Indian
Prep / inactive time: 
Cook / active time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 to 4
This quick-cook curry is on the table by the time the rice cooks. It features peas and paneer, an Indian cheese, in a spiced tomato base.
  • ¼ 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
  • 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
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • ½ cup cream
  1. Heat a non-stick skillet over high. Add oil then onions, and sauté until dark golden brown.
  2. Add the garlic and ginger, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the tomato paste and cumin seeds and cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Reduce the heat to low, add the garam masala, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, turmeric, and salt, and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the paneer and cook another 5 minutes.
  6. Add the peas, yogurt and cream. Cook 2 to 4 minutes or until the peas are just cooked.
  7. Sprinkled with fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.

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  • Kristin
    Posted at 13:39h, 26 October Reply

    Hey! This recipe looks great! I’ve been looking for a recipe to bring me back to my traveling days in India and Nepal…I miss the Paneer dishes! I’m definitely going to try this one out!
    Kristin from Bitchin’ Kitchen

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 15:10h, 26 October Reply

      Regrettably, I’ve never been to India but am willing to live vicariously through their stunning cuisine.

      I’d love to hear what you think of this, since you’ve traveled to the homeland of this dish.

  • Cheryl
    Posted at 15:07h, 26 October Reply

    Thank you, Lora! I really need to get some paneer.

    (p.s. You don’t like polenta, fine. Can’t handle oatmeal, okay. But peas? Peas?!? Who doesn’t like peas? They’re so friendly!)

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 15:14h, 26 October Reply

      Cheryl, the pea aversion is a carry-over from childhood. Restaurant curries, where the peas have been cooked to the point of morphing into mushy grey balls, haven’t helped the cause.

      However, I must say I’m far more open to anything with peas now that I have one success under my belt.

      Perhaps if I grew some peas next year I could undo the sins of a mislead culinary life?

      • Cheryl Arkison
        Posted at 10:19h, 27 October Reply

        @Charmian Christie, I am totally with you on peas, but there is no way I could ever like them, not even one.

        • Charmian Christie
          Posted at 22:47h, 27 October Reply

          They’re growing on me, but when I was a kid, I hated the. I used to sneak them off my plate and slip them onto a ledge under the table. One day when my mom moved the table to clean a whole pile of dehydrated peas fell onto the floor like tiny pebbles. BUSTED!!

  • Frenchie
    Posted at 21:13h, 26 October Reply

    This is my absolute favorite dish to order any time I go out for Indian food, thank you for finally giving me a recipe that I like to make it at home. Your pictures look stunning I am still waiting for the day that I get my SLR camera, I am hoping Santa has put me on the “good” list this year.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 21:32h, 26 October Reply

      Frenchie, I’ll put in a good word for you with Santa, but if you leave cookies out you might get that SLR without my help :-)

      Hope you like this variation of matar paneer. Some use coconut milk and the spices vary widely, as you can imagine. If you do try this recipe, I’d love to know how it turns out and / or any variations you make to the recipe.

  • Lora
    Posted at 02:10h, 27 October Reply

    Thanks, Christie. I needed to know the camera was going to a good home, and it certainly has made itself comfortable in your hands. Your food styling is impeccable; I want to dig into that big bowl of delicious. Tomorrow, I shop for ingredients!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 09:39h, 27 October Reply

      Lora! Are you teasing me? Christie?! Really?!

      I love the camera and am still struggling to get the lighting right at times. My food styling is okay if you see one or two shots, but tends to be repetitive. I’m working on that but it’s hard since I don’t want to get all fru-fru.

      I know you have a specific matar paneer in mind and hope this comes close. Let me know how it turns out!

      • Lora
        Posted at 19:24h, 28 October Reply

        @Charmian Christie,

        I’ve decided to call everyone by their surnames. Doesn’t it make me sound tougher? It’s all part of my new writing platform.

        What was that about getting your name right???

        Matar paneer (which I’ll just call paneer, here) is pretty much the same in every restaurant, so I’m guessing that this will be on target. I’m making it tonight. As usual, I forgot a few ingredients, but I’ll pull it together somehow.

  • Memoria
    Posted at 02:19h, 27 October Reply

    I’ve been wanting to make my own paneer. When I do, I must try it with this dish! YUM! Lovely photos on your new camera!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 09:40h, 27 October Reply

      Thanks, Memoria. I’ve had the camera since the summer but it still feels new to me.

      You’re making your own paneer? I know it’s not that hard, but I must say, I admire you for taking the time do this extra step!

  • Bernice
    Posted at 19:02h, 27 October Reply

    YUM this looks awesome! Paneer and curry are some of my favourite foods. I’ve always meant to make it, but it involves so many ingredients that I don’t have! Anyway, this looks amazing. :)

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 22:48h, 27 October Reply

      I know that Indian cuisine calls for a lot of spices, but one trip to the store and you have enough to keep you in curry for a year. I’ve just discovered an Indian specialty shop and feel like a kid in a candy store!

  • Jenn/CinnamonQuill
    Posted at 19:46h, 27 October Reply

    Oh, this sounds delicious. I wish I had some right in front of me. And your photos are magnificent! I am still a work-in-progress :)

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 22:50h, 27 October Reply

      Thanks, Jen. My photos are improving. I still shudder at what I posted even a year ago. Keep at it, and your work-in-progress with be amazing!

  • Lora
    Posted at 00:30h, 29 October Reply

    I vouch for the fact that this dish is wonderful. My family asked which brand it was — and were surprised to discover that I’d made it from scratch. It was so easy and quick, too. Listen to me, I sound like an infomercial.

    Thanks, Charmian!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 08:53h, 29 October Reply

      Thanks, Lora. You’re hired.

      Which brand was it? That’s high praise, indeed.

  • Lorraine
    Posted at 13:46h, 01 November Reply

    Hi Charmian

    I made this divine soup last night on Halloween.

    Now that our children are in their teens, my husband and I don’t get to traipse after cute costumed kids as they trick-or-treat. Nor can we sneak the kiddies’ 25 pounds of candy.

    Matar Paneer was a tasty consolation. We lapped it up as we passed out Halloween candy to the next generation of wee Wonder Women, ‘tween ninjas and ghostlettes.

    Thanks–and please keep the Indian food coming.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 08:52h, 02 November Reply

      Lorraine, you’re smarter than I am. I handed out candy and ended up eating half myself.

      Glad you liked the dish. I’ll be doing more Indian food as the weather gets colder. Thanks for letting me know your likes!

  • Moumita
    Posted at 12:33h, 22 June Reply

    Matar paneer is one of my fav dish. This is north indian dish but right now it has become a fav dishes for all over India. Matar paneer works best with kashmiri polau with mixed fruits or with good and tender paratha. I love it. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 10:34h, 28 June Reply

      Thanks for the advice on what to serve with this. I usually just have basmati rice, but love your suggestions.

  • peninggi badan
    Posted at 23:07h, 22 June Reply

    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!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 10:34h, 28 June Reply

      I find I’m always learning. I look at photos I thought were pretty good and now think, “Dear heavens! How could I have ever posted that?” I think my readers are grateful for the few steps forward I’ve made, too.

  • Colleen
    Posted at 21:11h, 11 April Reply

    I made this recipe tonight substituting a can of chick peas for the paneer. I couldn’t find pre-made paneer at the store and I didn’t feel like making my own. It came out great! :)

    Thank you! I found your recipe in the Blog Aid: Recipes for Haiti cookbook.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 21:33h, 11 April Reply

      Thanks so much for supporting Blog Aid and taking the time to leave a comment.

      I love your idea to substitute chickpeas. Never thought of that. I don’t always have paneer in the house (although it does freeze nicely), but your chickpea idea means I can make it anytime I like. Thanks!

  • Emma
    Posted at 18:17h, 01 May Reply

    Thank you so much for this great recipe. I make it ALL the time. My husband and I love it. The only thing I differently now is swap the cream for 1% milk. I find it doesn’t change the taste or texture and cuts back some calories and fat just a bit.

    I’ll continue to make this again and again :)

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 09:18h, 05 May Reply

      I’m thrilled you like the recipe. It’s one of our favourites, too. Good to know the reduced fat milk doesn’t affect the taste or creaminess of the dish. I sometimes play with the yogurt / cream ratio but never tried milk. Good to know!

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it.

  • Leanne
    Posted at 17:27h, 02 October Reply


    I have been searching for a Matar Paneer recipe for a while now to recreate one of my all time favorite dishes from an Indian restaurant I used to go to. I moved away & have been dreaming about it for years now! I have been to other Indian restaurants & have not found a Matar Paneer as good. I am pretty sure they used coconut milk in theirs which I felt gave it a an extra special something. Your recipe looks wonderful & I noticed you said you had seen variations with coconut milk. Do you think I would use it in addition to the cream & the yogurt? Do you have any idea how much coconut milk to use? Thanks so much for helping me with my dream of recreating my favorite fish!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 20:28h, 02 October Reply

      I feel the same way about a hot and sour soup that we used to get at a local Chinese restaurant. The restaurant changed owners and hasn’t been the same since. And I’ve no idea how to recreate it!

      The best advice I can give you is to experiment with this. I don’t know how much coconut milk your dream dish used, so why not try substituting the cream with coconut milk and see if it’s close. After your first attempt you’ll have a better idea of whether or not you should add more coconut milk (and then reduce the yogurt) or less. For example, if the matar paneer you crave was really rich, you might want to swap out the yogurt and have coconut milk and cream. I’d keep the proportions the same — initially. Once you see how my recipe turns out you’ll know which way to adjust it.

      Oh yes, and keep notes. You think you’ll remember what you did, but you won’t. Print out the recipe and write your alterations on it each time you adjust the recipe. Recored the results (needs more coconut, too much creamy, add more peas) After a few tries I’m sure you’ll have reconstructed your favourite dish! Good luck and happy cooking.

  • Leanne
    Posted at 17:29h, 02 October Reply

    Oops, I meant favorite dish!!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 20:29h, 02 October Reply

      Oddly enough, I knew what you meant. But then again, I speak typo.

  • Leanne
    Posted at 20:38h, 02 October Reply

    Thanks so much for getting back to me so quickly! I’ll try soon and let you know what I come up with & how it turns out.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 21:07h, 02 October Reply

      I really hope it turns out the way you envision. And please do keep me posted on your results. I’d love to know how you used the coconut milk.

  • Sandra Graunke
    Posted at 08:39h, 24 November Reply

    This is the first time I am reading your blog! A friend of mine, who is from India, actually sent me the link! I enjoyed reading your blog very much and saved the recipe to make it soon! I also really liked how your pictures now look a lot better then they must have before. When I saw the picture before Lora Shinn gave you some tips on how to take them, I wouldn’t have wanted to make that food. But the second picture looks very tasty!

    Thank you very much!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 09:48h, 24 November Reply

      Oh, the old pictures make me cringe! If I had the time I’d reshoot them ALL. But for now, I keep them as a reminder of my progress (or at least that’s what I tell myself.)

      I’m so glad you found my blog and took the time to drop me a note. Thank your friend for me.

      Hope you like the recipe!

  • Leanne
    Posted at 16:08h, 28 November Reply

    Hi Charmian,

    I wanted to let you know my husband & I have made this twice now since I emailed you. The first time I did it to your recipe and then added 1/3 cup coconut milk. It was so delicious and very very close to my dream Matar Paneer. We decided the restaurant dish had a little more liquid so we made it again last night and this time did 3/4 cup cream and again 1/3 cup coconut milk (everything else the same as your recipe). It is so delicious! I want to thank you so much for helping me create my all time favorite dish at home! Next time we thought we might try to add maybe a quarter to half a cup of canned diced tomatoes (remembered pieces of tomato in the restaurant recipe). Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Gayathri
    Posted at 13:22h, 22 December Reply

    Hello Charmian,

    I came across this recipe of yours while searching for ‘easy matar paneer’ on Pinterest. And believe me, it was not only easy but also yummy. My family enjoyed it and appreciated my efforts. I’m a big fan of paneer and love the way it soaks the flavors of the curry it is put in. The best part of your recipe is that paneer need not be fried before put into the gravy, which some other recepies require. Thank you for posting this one. Looking forward to more mouth watering yums from you. Cheers!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 09:42h, 30 December Reply

      Hi Gayathri! I’m so glad you and your family like the recipe. Paneer is so accommodating I’m not sure why it isn’t more popular.

      Thanks so much for your kind words and taking the time to comment. Here’s to another year of delicious eating!

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