Muttar Paneer

Paneer (cheese) with peas and tomato curry is a staple in North Indian homes. Paalak (spinach) paneer is also a main veggie course at Indian weddings. I’m not a huge spinach fan – the only way I can eat it is raw or sauteéd with garlic and olive oil – so I mostly make it this way. Plus, tomatoes and cheese.. how can you not?

Total time: 30-40 minutes

Muttar Paneer

400g Paneer block, cubed into 2cmx2cm cubes
1 28fl oz can chopped tomatoes
1/2 large red onion, diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup oil
1 tbsp white flour
Coriander leaves to garnish

Spice Mix (Masala)
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp asafoetida (hing)
2 tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
1 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped (or 2 inch root grated)

Toss the cubed paneer in flour with 1/2 tsp of salt. Heat 1/2 the oil in a frying pan to medium-hot and toss in the paneer and lightly brown in batches. Expect a bit of spluttering. I’ve found oil splutters less if you fry the paneer very quickly otherwise as it warms up, the paneer releases water. Take paneer out of the oil when golden brown. You could drain it on paper but I prefer to leave some oil on there.

Meanwhile, sauté chopped onions and ginger until lightly brown in the remainder of the oil. Add in the cumin (seeds and ground), hing, chili and turmeric and fry for a minute. Pour in the can of chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar and salt. Cover and cook for about 10 – 15 minutes on low heat until the masala is almost syrupy and you can see the oil on the sides. Toss in the peas and paneer and cover and cook for another 10 minutes or until heated through nicely. Finish with coriander leaves and garam masala and serve over rice or with chapatis (Indian flat bread).