In the past I have made a more traditional pea and paneer curry (mattar paneer) with a drier tomato-based sauce but since I discovered this pea and paneer masala recipe we haven’t looked back! It’s a great recipe because you prepare the curry sauce first and then add the other ingredients towards the end. This makes it perfect for entertaining because you can do most of the work in advance and it’s also really easy to experiment with different vegetables. The original recipe for this was in the July 2015 issue of Vegetarian Living magazine and used broccoli rather than peas. I love broccoli but didn’t think it worked particularly well here and I’ve also simplified the recipe a little bit. I have done the same sauce with cauliflower and chickpeas which worked well and I think mushrooms would be good too so let your imagination run wild!
Curry is quite a frequent occurrence in our house. We have some good local curry houses so we do eat curry out but we also enjoy our own ‘curry feasts’. If it’s a curry feast night we’ll have onion bhajis or vegetable pakoras followed by curry and rice and often chapatis as well. My partner makes the bhajis or pakoras and the chapatis while the curry and rice is my job. On a week night we’re more likely to just have the curry and rice maybe with bought naan breads. We always have a few jars of Indian pickles in the fridge. I love (with a passion!) Patak’s Garlic Pickle. My Dad introduced it to me about 30 years ago and I always have that alongside my curry while my partner is more a fan of Lime Pickle and Mango Chutney.
Paneer is an Indian cheese. You can make it yourself and I might experiment with that one day but in the meantime it’s fairly easy to buy in most larger supermarkets. I usually make this curry quite hot because I like the way the creaminess of the coconut milk and the sweetness of the peas tempers the fire of the chilli but you can adjust the amount of chilli to taste. Feel free to use fresh chillis if you prefer. I mostly use dried chilli flakes because it’s so easy to have them in plus I find that the heat level is so much more predictable than when using fresh chilli.
- 1 packet of paneer (about 225g), chopped into small cubes
- Vegetable oil
- 2 tsp black mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
- 1 tbsp finely chopped or grated fresh ginger
- 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 x 400ml can of coconut milk
- 200g frozen peas
- Heat 1-2 tbsp of oil in a frying pan and fry the paneer gently, turning it occasionally until it is golden. Keep an eye on it because it's quite easy to over do it!
- Remove the paneer to a dish with kitchen paper and put on one side until later.
- Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large saucepan and add the mustard and cumin seeds. Fry for a couple of minutes until they start sizzling.
- Add the onion and turmeric and cook, stirring well, for about 5 minutes to soften the onion.
- Add the garlic, chilli and ginger, stir and cook for a further 2 minutes.
- Add the tomato puree, garam masala, 2 tbsp water and ground coriander and stir well.
- Add the coconut milk and bring to the boil stirring to combine everything.
- Simmer for about 10 minutes. If you're preparing this in advance this is a good point at which to leave it.
- Add frozen peas and paneer, bring back to the boil and simmer for another 3 minutes.
- Serve with rice and/or Indian bread.