Bollywood Cooking: Mutter Paneer
Mutter paneer is an all-time favorite of mine. This popular North Indian dish is often found in Indian restaurants around the world, but nothing compares to the way my mother would make it.
Mutter paneer is basically a flavorful vegetarian dish made of soft homemade Indian cheese called “paneer”, which is lightly pan-fried, then added to a spiced gravy with peas and tomatoes.
I’ve adapted my mother’s recipe over the years and instead of a thin gravy, I have created a creamier version, with an intense, fruity-flavored tomato sauce which coats the soft homemade paneer.
Printable version of recipe
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250g paneer, cut into cubes
1 small red onion, coarsely chopped
3 large cloves garlic
1/2 inch thick piece of ginger, roughly cut
1 green chili
1 teaspoon black cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
250g chunky tomato passata or tomato purée
2 teaspoon garam masala
Pinch of sea salt
300g fresh or frozen peas; if using frozen do not thaw them 100ml thick cream
Handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
To pan-fry the paneer cubes, heat a small amount of oil in a skillet to medium, then place the paneer cubes in a single layer. Cook them, turning occasionally, until all the surfaces is a light golden color. Carefully remove the cheese cubes and allow to drain on kitchen paper towels. Set aside.
Pulse together onion, garlic, ginger and chili in a food processor until finely puréed.
Pour a drizzle of oil into a saucepan and heat to medium-high. Sprinkle in the black cumin seeds and bay leaf and cook for approx 6-8 seconds, until the cumin seeds are fragrant and turn slightly brown.
Add the onion-garlic mixture and stir-fry for approx. 6 minutes until the mixture takes one a reddish golden color.
Pour the passata and mix. Lower the heat to medium, then add the garam masala and salt. Allow to simmer covered for 5 minutes, then remove the lid and simmer for another 5 minutes, until the sauce becomes thick.
Add about 50ml of water, then the peas and stir. Simmer for another 8 minutes or until the peas are tender. Keep an eye on the consistency of the gravy. If you find it is becoming too dry, add a few tablespoons of water.
Fold in the cream, then finally add the paneer and allow to simmer for another 5 minutes.
Serve sprinkled with chopped coriander leaves. Perfect with naans or pita and even better with a light pilaf.
The Food Guide Tips:
Make your own paneer.
Find out everything about the Indian spice kitchen.
While my mother’s version is based on the classic Punjabi style of making mutter paneer, what I like about my version is that the gravy is thicker and heavily coats the paneer, so each bite of the cheese is accompanied by a plethora of vibrant flavors. Paneer itself is fairly bland and flavorless, but with a rich and full-bodied tasty gravy it adds a heavenly highlight. The sauce itself is fruity and tangy and wonderfully aromatic and must be wiped clean with morsels of rotis.
This is a perfect side dish and can be accompanied by any of your favorite Indian flatbreads. It works well with a creamy butter chicken for a more elaborate meal.