Learn how to make Matar Paneer (also called Mattar Paneer or Mutter Paneer Masala), a popular vegetarian Indian side dish recipe with paneer and green peas aka matar in an onion-tomato-cashew gravy. Matar Paneer is a fantastic side dish for roti and pulao, perfect for when you have guests over.
The first time I made matar paneer at home was many years ago, in our first home in Singapore, in 2008! Cooking with paneer was relatively new to me then and since TH loves it so much, I was experimenting with a recipe that came out wonderfully, in my novice opinion. Since then, I have made Matar Paneer countless times, almost always when entertaining. Remember, matar paneer is not to be confused with the more popular butter paneer or paneer butter masala!
Anything with paneer is a definite win in our home, especially if it’s homemade paneer. I love experimenting with different paneer recipes but tend to default to tried and tested recipes – like this kadai paneer, or chilli paneer – when it comes to cooking for guests. This time around, I wanted to use up the frozen peas in the freezer and wanted something with a mild gravy for the kids in the group so ended up making this delicious Matar Paneer. It went really well with rotis and the vegetable pulao that were part of the meal.
Pro tip: check notes to see how I prepare Matar Paneer for guests by splitting up the cooking process.
Matar Paneer Recipe
- 2 cups onions sliced
- 1 tsp garlic minced
- 1 tsp ginger grated
- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder adjust to your heat tolerance
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1.5 cups ripe tomatoes cubed
- 1/2 cup cashew nuts raw and unsalted
- 1-2 tsp canned tomato paste optional but recommended
- 3/4 cup shelled green peas fresh or frozen
- 1.5 cups cubed paneer fresh or frozen, thawed
- 1 tsp kasuri methi dried fenugreek leaves, easily available in Indian shops
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp cream optional, but recommended
- 3 tbsp fresh coriander leaves or cilantro, chopped
- 3 tbsp oil
- Soak 1/2 cup cashew nuts in warm water for 30 minutes
- Heat 3 tbsp oil in a large pan and saute 2 cups onions until the edges start turning brown.
- Add 1 tsp garlic and 1 tsp ginger and saute again for a minute, until fragrant
- Add 1/2 tsp red chilli powder, 2 tsp coriander powder, and 1/2 tsp cumin powder, along with 1/4 tsp turmeric powder. Saute for 30 seconds until roasted.
- Add 1.5 cups ripe tomatoes. Mix and cook until the tomatoes turn soft.
- Top off with 1-2 tsp canned tomato paste and mix again well. See notes for why this ingredient is recommended.
- Turn the heat off and leave the above mixture to cool.
- Meanwhile, grind the soaked cashew nuts with some water to a smooth paste. Set aside.
- Saute 1.5 cups cubed paneer in some oil until all sides are light golden brown. Drain and set aside. Do not overcook the paneer, or it will turn rubbery.
- Once the tomato onion mixture is cool, grind to a coarse paste. Leaving some texture in it makes the final gravy nicer
- Return the onion-tomato paste to the stove in the same pan as before, along with the cashew paste and 3/4 cup shelled green peas.
- Add about 1.5 cups water and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for 10 minutes or until the peas is cooked. You can add more water if the gravy is too thick.
- Add 1 tsp kasuri methi, 1 tbsp cream (if using), required amount of salt, and 1 tsp garam masala. Mix well to combine everything
- Finally add the fried paneer and 3 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped. Mix gently until the paneer is well coated in the gravy.
- The tomato paste gives a nice depth to the dish and also gives the matar paneer some colour. You can omit this if you want but I highly recommend adding some. You can transfer the remaining paste to an air tight container and keep in fridge for up to 2 weeks. Add to any tomato-based gravy, you won’t regret it. I also buy tomato paste in tubes (Mutti is a nice brand if you get it where you live) and it makes it much easier to add a “squeeze” to gravies and dal as I cook
- The cream is optional but I like adding some for flavour. If you don’t have any, don’t go out and buy it just for this dish. You can also add a dash of milk for some flavour, but remember this will reduce the shelf life quite a bit. Finish up your matar paneer in 2 days
- When I prepare Matar Paneer for guests, I make the gravy the previous day (until preparing the onion-tomato gravy). I also leave soaked cashews in the fridge. On the day, just grind the cashew paste and proceed. Also fry the paneer on the day of serving so it stays spongy and fresh
- Adding a crushed green chilli to the onion when frying it will give a different flavour to the gravy which I personally love. Adjust red chilli powder in this case
- You can add whole spices like cloves, cardamom, and a bay leaf, to the oil in the beginning instead of garam masala in the end. I just prefer the quicker version and biting into spices when eating this is just UGH.
- These days I avoid frying paneer at all and just add it to the simmering gravy and let it “cook” for a couple of minutes. Frying paneer tends to make it rubbery, especially when store bought
Step by Step Matar Paneer Recipe
Heat oil in a large pan and saute the onions onion the edges start turning brown.
Add the ginger and garlic and saute again for a minute. I have also added a green chilli here, which is optional, see notes
Add the chilli powder, coriander powder, and cumin powder, along with the turmeric. Saute for a minute until fragrant.
Add tomatoes. Mix and cook until the tomatoes turn soggy and soft.
Top off with the tomato paste (if using) and mix again well.
Turn off flame and leave the above mixture to cool.
Meanwhile, grind the soaked cashew nuts with some water to a smooth paste. Set aside.
Saute the paneer cubes in some oil until all sides are light golden brown. Drain and set aside.
Edited to add: This step is optional and I don’t follow it myself anymore. Just add cubed paneer directly into the gravy towards the last step below and you are good to go! Frying paneer can turn it rubbery.
Once the tomato onion mixture is cool, grind to a coarse paste.
Return this to the stove in the same pan along with the cashew paste and peas.
Add about 1.5 cups water and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for 5-6 mins or until the peas is cooked. You can add more water if the gravy is too thick.
Add the kasuri methi, cream, required amount of salt, and garam masala. Mix well.
Finally add the fried paneer and coriander leaves. Mix gently until the paneer is well covered in the gravy.
Piping hot and delicious matar paneer is ready to serve! Enjoy 🙂