matar paneer in bowl

Cooking meals outside the boundaries of your usual cuisine can be intimidating. Traditional Indian cuisine has been around for a very long time, so if homemade Indian food is not on your usual menu, there may be ingredients you’re not used to and cooking methods you’re not familiar with. This can make it difficult to cook intuitively, correct a mistake, or pivot when you’re missing an ingredient. But, the pay-offs are oh-so worth it. It’s time to expand your cooking horizons and stop missing out on so many wonderful recipes. Let this delicious matar paneer recipe be your first step, because it’s super simple and so full of flavor.

Matar paneer is a traditional vegetarian dish of northern India. It’s usually served, as this recipe by Kristen Carli, MS RD displays, with peas, paneer cheese, and tomatoes, with a blend of spices alongside rice and/or Indian bread. Other versions of matar paneer may include potatoes or corn, as well as yogurt in place of the cream. It is sure to be on regular rotation throughout the season, perfect to get you through those cold winter nights.

Gather your ingredients to make matar paneer

ingredients for matar paneer

Set yourself up by gathering all of your ingredients to make this matar paneer recipe. Make sure you are not leaving out any of the spices as this blend gives this dish it’s next level flavor. You are going to need olive oil, crushed ginger, minced garlic, diced yellow onion, diced canned tomatoes, heavy cream, ground cinnamon, ground turmeric, ground coriander, ground cumin, chili powder, canned peas, paneer cheese, and water. With all of these ingredients on deck, you’re ready to go!

What is paneer?

paneer cheese cubed

Before we hop into making this dish, it’s helpful to know what ingredients you’re working with. Paneer is an Indian cheese that is typically made from cow or buffalo milk. According to Sukhi’s, It is a non-aged and non-melting cheese that is made by curdling milk with some type of acid, such as lemon juice. If paneer is a cheese you are not familiar with, Carli says that it can be compared to halloumi cheese, queso blanco, or a pressed version of cottage cheese. Paneer is used in many other Indian dishes as well as in fusions with different cuisines. In addition to matar paneer, some common dishes are paneer pulao (paneer with rice), palak paneer (paneer with thick pureed spinach), and it is often used for a vegetarian version of chicken tikka masala. As you can tell, paneer is incredibly versatile and goes a long way in Indian cuisine!

Prepare the pureed tomato cream

onions, cream, tomatoes in pan

Now, it’s finally time to start cooking! In a large skillet over medium heat, add a tablespoon olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the ginger, garlic, and onion and saute for about five minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Then, add the can of diced tomatoes and cream to the skillet and stir well. Cover the skillet and let it cook for five minutes. Then, using an immersion blender, blend the mixture until smooth, and remove it from the heat.

Add spices to the skillet

spices in pan

In another large skillet over medium heat, add the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil. Then, throw in all the spices: cinnamon, turmeric, ground coriander, cumin, and chili powder. You could save yourself some time with this step by measuring out the spices at the beginning and tossing them together to mix, so you can sprinkle them all in at once. Now, add the pureed tomato mixture to the skillet with the spices and stir well. Let the aroma of all the fragrant spices fill the room. It’s going to smell so delicious.

Add the peas, paneer, and water

paneer peas tomato sauce

The last additions to your steamy skillet are going to be the peas, the paneer cheese, and water. Some recipes call for frozen peas, and others will choose to mix in different vegetables such as corn instead. One great thing about classic recipes like this, is the more you make them, the more you can start to bring your own taste and flare to them and find different variations that you love.

Cover, simmer, and serve over rice

matar paneer in bowls

Cover the skillet and let the whole thing simmer for 10 minutes. When it’s ready, serve the matar paneer over steamed rice. Basmati rice is the most common choice with Indian food, but you can choose to pair it with whatever your favorite is or whatever you have on hand. Matar paneer is often served with Indian bread such as naan in place of or in addition to the rice. Either way, you’re going to love the flavors of this warm and comforting dish.

Matar paneer is a classic Indian dish that boasts warming spices and delicious paneer cheese — this recipe makes it easy to try the dish in your own home.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon crushed ginger
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 (15 ounces) can diced tomatoes
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoons ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 (15 ounces) can peas, drained
  • 8 ounces paneer cheese, cubed
  • ½ cup water
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once hot, add the ginger, garlic, and onion. Saute until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the can of diced tomatoes and cream. Stir well. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture until smooth, then remove it from heat.
  4. In another large skillet over medium heat, add remaining olive oil. Add the cinnamon, turmeric, ground coriander, cumin, and chili powder.
  5. Add in the pureed tomato mixture to the skillet with the spices and stir well.
  6. Add the peas, paneer, and water. Stir well. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, then serve.