Paneer and peas (Mattar Paneer)

A trip to India is the perfect remedy to childhood fussiness with food! Since returning home the difference in C's eating is amazing.  I wouldn't say she was overly picky before we went, she was good with veggies but didn't like dishes with sauce and wasn't great at trying new foods.

When we were there she was pretty good, she did try new foods but she also had days which were very bread based.  Since coming home however she willingly tries new food, no persuasion or bribery required, and eats food I would never have imagined a year ago.  One of her new favourite foods influenced by our time in India is paneer.  Paneer is a hard Indian cheese, its non melting and has a very mild flavour making it a great vehicle for Indian spices in curries and tandoori dishes.  Its seemingly pretty easy to make, just milk and lemon juice; although I'm yet to have a go because its also pretty easy to pick up from the supermarket!

Paneer and peas is one of our favourites, I always use petit pois rather than garden peas as I love just the little bursts of sweetness against the spicy tomato sauce.  I've tried several variations but this is the one I make most often, I really enjoy the slight bitterness the fenugreek adds.  If its just the two of us we eat this accompanied by chapatis.

Mattar Paneer 

(adapted from this recipe from Lisa's Kitchen, I love Lisa's blog!)
Serves 3-4
1.5tsp cumin seeds
1tsp mustard seeds
1 onion, chopped
1-2 green chillis (depending on personal taste), finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped
1.5tsp ground coriander
1tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp paprika
3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
225g paneer, cubed 
1.5 cups frozen petit pois
1/2 cup full fat yoghurt
1tsp garam masala
1.5 tsp kasoori methi, crumbled
small bunch fresh coriander, chopped

Heat oil or ghee until hot and add the cumin and mustard seed, cook for 30-60 second until mustard seeds start to pop.  

Add the onion and cook for around 5 minutes until soft and translucent. Then add the chillis, garlic and ginger, cook for a further minute and stir in the ground spices.  After another minute of cooking and stirring add the chopped tomatoes and a couple of tablespoons of water.

While the tomato mixture is cooking, heat some more oil or ghee in a frying pan and fry the paneer until golden.

When the tomatoes have cooked down to reduce the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients, cook for a further 5-10 minutes.

Serve and enjoy! 

I fry the paneer before adding it to the dish because I like the texture better this way, it is personal preference and the paneer can be added raw if that is your preference for taste/timing/health reasons.  You can fry the paneer before starting the dish put it into hot salted water until needed.

If you use reduced fat yoghurt it is more likely to curdle.  I would avoid this by tempering the yoghurt i.e gradually bringing it up to the temperature of the pan by adding the hot component to the yoghurt a little at a time and stirring it in - as opposed to adding the cold yoghurt straight to the pan.


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