Matar paneer

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Matar paneer is a popular North Indian dish. Paneer is a firm Indian cheese, made by curdling hot milk with lemon juice or vinegar, then straining through muslin, rinsing off in water and pressing into rectangular blocks. It has the unusual properties of being suitable for frying and it does not melt when cooked, but stays in soft, neat little chunks. The use of paneer is more common in Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh due to the prominence of milk in their cuisine. It is sometimes wrapped in dough and deep-fried or served with either spinach (palak paneer) or peas (mattar paneer). Matar paneer is usually served with naan, roti, chapati and paratha but goes very well with rice and pulao also. The mild flavors of the paneer (cottage cheese) marry beautifully with the delicious sauce in this recipe.

Ingredients:

275 – 350 g paneer

3 tbsp sunflower oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 ½ cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

2 medium-hot green chillies, seeded and chopped

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp ground coriander

½ tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp cayenne pepper

2 vine-ripened tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped

350 g fresh or frozen peas, 900 g in the pod

1 small bunch coriander, roughly chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper

naan bread, to serve (see Garlic naan recipe)

Matar paneer

Preparation:

Break the paneer roughly into 2 ½ cm pieces. Heat the half of the oil in a large shallow pan, add the paneer and fry gently until lightly golden on all sides. Lift onto a plate and set aside.

Add the rest of the oil and the onion, garlic, ginger, chillies, cumin seeds, coriander, turmeric and cayenne pepper to the pan and fry gently until the onion is soft but not browned.

Add the tomatoes, peas, ¾ tsp salt and 2 tbsp of water and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the paneer and cook gently for another 5 minutes.

Stir in the coriander and sprinkle with a little black pepper to garnish. Serve with some warm plain or garlic naan.