Shahi Matar Paneer- Cottage Cheese and Peas Gravy

When I was a kid, eating out called for only special occasions, and Matar Paneer was staple on our menu with garlic Naan and ending it with some chickoo milkshake, we were so predictable that we never ever saw the menu and the waiter got our order without even ordering. My mom's home even being in suburban Mumbai is still very much like a village, where everyone knows everyone. There was only one cinema theatre, and 2 restaurants till the early 2000. Although all that has changed now and it is taking shape of being a very busy town in Suburban Mumbai. The old charm is still there but dying sooner than I am ready to accept it.

Times change, things change and most importantly people change. Eating out is a every weekend affair for me now. Sadly, as much as I love to cook, some days it's impossible to get my lazy self in the kitchen and make fresh food. Eating out in the Indian restaurants is also not a favourite option for me, I tend to worry about few things more than enjoying the food, like how spicy, what oil do they use, how old is the paneer on....if you are like me, you will tend to eat out at Subways; it is my all time go to, but it tends to get boring for others, so we go the semi homemade way..frozen parathas or nans that we stock for such nites and a quick gravy based curry, with some steamed rice. a complete meal is on the table under 30 minutes. I am huge fan of Master chef Sanjeev Kapoor and follow his recipes to the T, this is one such treasure tweaked to my family's liking, hope you will like this also.

Green peas and paneer cooked together into a delicious gravy.

You will need;

To Make Paneer--at home( or Use store brought)
Milk 4 cups
Lemon 1

** I used the store brought paneer as I was low on time and somehow I am yet to master the art of making chunky paneer at home, I always get the paneer mashed or in crumbs when I make at home. Maybe will start using Whole or full fat milk, 2% does not seem to work for me.

For the gravy;
Green peas 400 grams
Oil 2 tablespoons + to deep fry
2 large Onions
2 Tomatoes--Pureed or use 1/4th of the 8oz can
1 inch piece Ginger
1/4 tspnTurmeric powder
1 tspnRed chili powder
1 tspn Coriander powder
1 tspn Garam masala powder
1 pod green Cardamom-broken with but with the skin in tact
1 tbspn Cashew Paste
** Soak Cashews in milk for 1 hour and grind it into paste.
Salt to taste

Making paneer;
Boil milk twice on high heat and add juice of one lemon. The whey will separate from paneer. Drain the whey, tie up paneer in a muslin cloth and hang it up all day to allow excess water to drain away. Place the muslin with the paneer under a heavy weight to ensure that all the moisture is squeezed out. This will flatten the paneer into a flat round cake when removed from the muslin.

Cut the paneer into strips or cubes. Heat sufficient oil in a kadai and deep-fry till light brown. Drain onto an absorbent paper.

Making Gravy;
Peel and chop onions and ginger finely.
 Heat two tablespoons oil in a pan and add chopped onions and ginger  and tomato puree and the broken cardamom pod. Breaking the pod is simply making a slit in the pod but not separating the seeds from the skin.Sauté till lightly browned. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, salt and peas and cook, adding a little water, till the peas are tender and a little gravy remains. Add the cashew paste, fried paneer, garam masala powder and boil for five minutes. Serve hot with chappatis.

** Note; You can substitute paneer with potato, cauliflower or button mushroom, cubed into large pieces, steamed or fried and added to the gravy in the last.

This can be made  a very high calorie dish by adding cashew paste and/or heavy cream. It can be totally left out, which I often do when cooking for the only four of us, it's only when I am entertaining that I add the nuts and cream. I believe in moderation, so the fat from paneer and the cashew paste is enough to make me feel guilty, I left out heavy cream.The choice as always is yours.

Hope to see more entries at all these events.
Love Ash.
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