Matar paneer is the definition of a party dish. It’s the sort of thing that you can serve to anyone—it looks really pretty and is always a crowd-pleaser (Cheese! Tomato sauce! Cumin-studded peas!). And it takes a *tiny* bit more effort than your standard Indian one-pan sabzi, which means you’ll usually only pull it out when you want to impress a crowd. Typically, the paneer in matar paneer is deep-fried. But as my mom discovered, deep-frying at home sucks, and the dish ends up tasting a lot more balanced and not overly rich when the paneer is simply simmered in the pan with all the other ingredients.

Priya Krishna
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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, warm ¼ cup of the ghee. Add the cardamom and coriander and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute, until they have lightly browned. Stir in the onion, ginger, and chile and cook until the onion is translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the tomatoes, and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes are wilted, 5 to 6 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

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  • Transfer the cooled tomato mixture to a blender and blend into a chunky sauce—it should resemble baby food. If the mixture isn’t blending well, add a few drops of water to get it going. Set the sauce aside.

  • In the same pan over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons ghee. Add the cumin seeds and cook until they turn a medium shade of brown, about 1 minute max. Reduce the heat to low and add the bay leaves, turmeric, and asafetida (if using). Pour the sauce into the pan, add the salt, and mix well. Add the paneer, peas, and 1 cup water, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, or until the peas are warmed through and have nicely comingled with the paneer and Serve sauce. Taste and adjust the salt, if needed. Garnish with the cilantro.

Chef's Notes

As soon as you cube the paneer, put it in warm water until you are ready to cook it—this will make sure it doesn’t dry out. Just be sure to drain it before adding it to the pan.

Excerpted from Indian-ish © 2019 by Priya Krishna with Ritu Krishna. Photography © 2019 by Mackenzie Kelley. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.