I consider myself lucky to have spent a better part of my life in Pune. I have seen the city grow from a small conservative town to the cosmopolitan place of today. Besides other things the city is now famous for its food. The plethora of restaurants in various parts of the city cover most of the world's popular cuisines.
During college days we spent a lot of evenings hanging out on the famous "Jungli Maharaj Road". When we were looking for a small snack or a lite lunch we always found something within our budget - Chaat, Dabelis, sandwiches and so much more.Birthdays, get-togethers, sari days, valentines,almost every special occasion was celebrated with a lunch or dinner at some of our favorite joints located here. Most of the restaurants served classic North Indian cuisines along with the indianized chinese food. The "vegetable manchurian" at one of these places was to die for and so were the other paneer dishes.
Matar Paneer - a classic north indian preparation, is not something frequently made at our home. Not because we don't like it but it wasn't just part of the meal rotation. But a half can of tomato puree lying around in the fridge suggested that I needed to use it up quickly and this dish sounded like a perfect way to do the same.
I referred to several recipes online. Most of them used thick cream that I did not have on hand. Finally I decided to make it the following way.
The recipe uses whole garam masala along with a generous amount of ginger-garlic.A couple of teaspoons of yogurt impart the required creaminess. In all, a tasty and healthy recipe.
(Adapted from "Indian Home Cooking" by Suvir Saran)
What's needed :-
1.5 medium onion chopped finely
1 inch piece of ginger grated
4 cloves of garlic
5-6 tbsp of tomato puree (or 3 medium tomatoes chopped)
2-3 tbsp of yogurt whisked smooth
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 bunch cilantro
salt to taste
6 tbsp of oil
For the tempering :
1 inch stick of cinnamon
5-6 black peppercorns
3-4 dry red chillies
7 cardamom pods
1 tsp cumin seeds
- Mince the garlic and the cumin and set aside.
- Over medium heat combine the cinnamon, peppercorns, cardamom and wait till cinnamon unfurls.
- Add the cumin seeds, dry red chillies and allow to sizzle.
- Add the onions and salt. Let the onions brown. If they get dry add a tsp of water. This may take around 10 min so be patient.
- Then add the ginger,garlic-cumin mixture,chilli , turmeric, coriander and cumin powders. Continue to saute till the mixture is dry and lumpy.
- Then add the tomatoes or the tomato puree. If using puree let the mixture cook for around 5-7min till the raw smell of tomato is gone.
- Whisk the yogurt and add a tablespoon of the tomato mixture. Add the yogurt to the pan.
- If the whole thing gets too thick add water to get desired consistency.
- Turn the heat to medium and cover.Allow to come to a gentle boil. Do not cook over high heat as the yogurt may curdle.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the peas and cook for another 5 min.
- Finally add the garam masala, cilantro and the paneer. Switch off after 2-3 min.
There you are- a restaurant classic to be enjoyed right in the comfort of your home. Such dishes make our weekend meals special. We love them with warm rotis and some salad.