Matar paneer is one of the most popular paneer dishes made with green peas, Indian cheese, onions, tomatoes, spices and herbs. This restaurant style North Indian peas paneer curry is creamy, delicious and super flavorful. Serve matar paneer over steamed basmati rice, any flavored rice, Butter naan, roti or flatbreads of your choice. I am sure your family will love this treat!
About matar paneer
‘Matar’ is the Hindi word for ‘Peas’ and paneer is Indian cheese. So the dish gets its name – matar paneer, where paneer and peas are simmered in a delicious spicy and flavorsome curry. This classic North Indian dish is made in several ways and every home has a different recipe. For the same reason the taste of mutter paneer served in every restaurant is different.
So there is no one way this is made but the ingredients used are almost the same.
For this matar paneer recipe, I have made the gravy by sautéing onions & tomatoes with some spices. Then blended this to get a smooth paste. Later it is spiced and simmered with water until a thick consistency is achieved. To this green peas and paneer are added.
The process of sautéing brings out the subtle sweet flavor from onions and tomatoes, thereby enhancing the depth of various tastes & flavors in the gravy. This sautéing part is what makes this matar paneer simply superb and unique.
Though this extra step consumes a bit of time it is totally worth the effort when you want to make something special like the restaurant kind. Sometimes when I am pressed for time, I make it in a short cut way by simply blanching the onions and pureeing them with raw tomatoes.
I have shared that method too as method 2 below upon readers’ request. You can also make that in the Instant pot, for which I have included the instructions in the recipe card.
This recipe is roughly adapted from my Paneer butter masala which is a popular recipe on the blog. But this tastes completely different as there is no butter used & the process is slightly different. If you want you can also add 2 tablespoons of yogurt when you blend the ingredients.
How to make matar paneer (stepwise photos)
1. Heat a pan and add 1 tbsp oil. When the oil turns hot, add 2 green cardamoms, 1 inch ginger (chopped) and 3 garlic cloves (chopped). Saute just for a minute. I did forget to add the cardamoms here so added in the tempering later.
2. Add 1 cup chopped onions. Saute them until they turn pink to light golden. The raw smell of the onions has to go away.
3. Then add 1½ cup chopped tomatoes, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon turmeric.
4. Saute for 2 to 3 mins. Cover the pan. Cook on a medium flame until the onions and tomatoes turn mushy. Add 12 whole cashews and turn off the stove.
5. Cool this mixture completely. Transfer to a blender jar. Make a smooth puree without adding water.
6. Heat a pan with 2 tablespoons oil. Add 1 inch cinnamon and a small bay leaf. You can also skip them and just add half teaspoon cumin seeds. Fry them for a min.
7. Pour the onion tomato puree. If your puree is not smooth, then pass it through a strainer. Add 1 teaspoon sugar, ¾ to 1 teaspoon red chili powder, ¾ to 1 teaspoon garam masala and ½ to ¾ teaspoon coriander powder. You can also add the spice powders first to hot oil. If the pan is too hot , it burns them so I added later.
8. Saute all of these until the mixture comes together & turns thick. Keep stirring often.
9. Add ¾ cup boiled green peas or frozen peas. If using fresh peas, then you may need to boil them. Drain and use here. I used frozen peas, so just rinsed well and added. Pour 1 to 1¼ cups water to make a gravy.
10. Mix well. Cover and cook until the gravy thickens. Taste the gravy and add more salt if needed.
11. Add 1 slit green chilli, 250 grams paneer and 1 teaspoon kasuri methi. Mix gently and cover. Cook just for 2 to 3 mins. Adding green chilli at this stage gives a unique flavor.
12. Add chopped coriander leaves and 3 to 4 tablespoons cream. Mix well. Transfer to a serving bowl.
Here is a picture of the mutter paneer made in Instant pot.
Matar paneer – Easy Method 2
1. Though I have skipped this step in the step by step pictures below, I don’t suggest skipping it because a lot of times raw onions taste bitter after blending and ruin the entire dish. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil & add the 1 cup cubed onions (100 grams). Boil for 2 to 3 mins. Drain the blanched onions.
2. Add blanched onions, 1½ cups tomatoes (340 grams), 1 to 2 small cardamoms, 1 green chili (optional) and 12 to 14 cashew nuts to a grinder jar.
3. Make a fine smooth puree. We don’t want any chunks of cashews in the puree. If you do not have a powerful blender, you may pass through a sieve and blend the coarse mixture again.
4. Optional step. Saute paneer in little oil and immerse them in warm water until used.
5. Heat 2 tablespoons oil or ghee in a pan. Add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 green cardamom, 2 cloves, 1 inch cinnamon & bay leaf. When the spices sizzle, add 1½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste.
6. Fry ginger garlic paste until the raw smell goes off.
7. Add the ground onion tomato puree & saute on a medium heat stirring often. You can partially cover the pan if it splatters a lot.
8. Saute until the masala cooks well and the raw smell disappears completely.
9. Add ¾ to 1 teaspoon chili powder, ¾ to 1 teaspoon garam masala, ½ to ¾ teaspoon coriander powder, 1 teaspoon sugar and ½ to ¾ salt. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.
10. Add1 cup peas and pour 1.5 cups water. If you are using frozen peas, you may add them later.
11. Mix well and cook until the gravy thickens and the peas soft cook. If using frozen tender peas, you can add them after the gravy cooks for a while as the frozen ones cook faster.
12. When the gravy turns thick, you will also see some oil on top of the gravy. There is not much oil used in the recipe so you can see very little oil on top. To the thick gravy, add paneer and crushed kasuri methi. Crush the kasuri methi in between your palms and then add.
13. Cook for just 1 to 2 minutes. If you fry the paneer at the earlier step, skip cooking again here. Using cream is optional. Pour cream to a small bowl, add little gravy and mix well. Stir this into the pan.
Switch off the stove and add finely coriander leaves. Serve matar paneer with roti or rice.
Ingredients & substitutes
Paneer: Paneer is Indian vegetarian non-melting cheese made by curdling milk. It is easily available in Indian stores in the frozen section. You can also make your own by following this homemade paneer recipe.
If you are a vegan then you can easily substitute it with extra firm tofu or Quorn. Just note that you will need to precook Quorn until tender and then add them along with green peas
Green peas: In India, fresh green peas are in season during the winters and most people use them as they are easily available. But mutter paneer can be made anytime of the year with frozen peas, like the way I did here.
Garam masala is the key spice blend in this recipe. The flavors of your matar paneer will depend highly rely on how aromatic your garam masala is. So do use a good garam masala.
Whole spices can be easily skipped but they slowly infuse the flavors when you simmer the gravy. The depth of flavors is not comparable when you skip them.
Kasuri methi are dried fenugreek leaves. They are easily available in the Indian stores selling North Indian groceries. You may skip them if you don’t find but they impart a unique aroma and there is no substitute to it.
Cashews are used for a creamy texture. They can be replaced with soaked and blanched almonds. Alternately you may use 3 tbsps of white poppy seeds. Soak the seeds for 2 hours in warm water and grind them separately in a small grinder to a thick creamy consistency. Pour it at the last step before adding paneer. Simmer until it thickens then add paneer.
Cream adds a milky flavor to the gravy and also makes the dish creamier. However you may just skip it and use 6 more whole cashews.
Matar paneer gravy can be made in many ways. Here are a few variations:
- For the simplest version, saute fine chopped onions until deep golden, then ginger garlic and then add pureed tomatoes & cashews. Saute until thick and add spices. Pour water and make a thick gravy. Add matar and paneer to this.
- To add yogurt & skip cream, you can follow my restaurant dum aloo recipe. Just skip the aloo and use matar and paneer instead with the amount of water mentioned in this post. I also have instant pot version in that post.
- To make matar paneer without onions and garlic, you can follow my paneer makhani recipe.
If using store bought paneer, it is always good to soak it in warm water for 15 to 20 mins. This softens the paneer and prevents it from turning rubbery.
Yes you can freeze the matar paneer gravy without adding peas, paneer & cream. Cool the gravy immediately after cooking. Store it in air tight glass containers. Add both peas and paneer when you reheat it.
Yes! This homemade matar paneer is healthy if you eat in moderation. It has a good amount of protein from green peas and paneer. Also it is not excessively loaded with butter and cream, so healthy people can include it in their weekly diet.
Matar paneer (Mutter paneer)
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
To saute & puree
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 cardamoms (elaichi)
- 3 garlic (cloves )
- 1 inch ginger chopped
- 1 cup onions cubed (1 large or 2 medium)
- 1½ cup tomatoes (2 large) chopped
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 12 cashewnuts (or almonds, soaked for 2 hours and blanched)
- ½ teaspoon salt
For matar paneer gravy
- 2 tablespoon oil or ghee
- 1 inch cinnamon (dalchini) (optional)
- 1 small bay leaf (optional)
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder (adjust to taste)
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon garam masala (adjust to taste)
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup green peas (matar) (boiled or frozen)
- 1 to 1 ¼ cup water (use more if needed)
- 1 green chili deseeded & slit (optional)
- 250 grams paneer (indian cottage cheese)
- 1 teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
- ¼ teaspoon salt as needed (about ¼ to ½ tsp)
- 2 tablespoon coriander leaves (cilantro)
- 3 to 4 tablespoon cream (optional)
Preparation for mutter paneer
- If using store bought paneer, soak it in a bowl of hot water for 20 mins. Drain the water and use. This step helps to keep the paneer soft.
- Pour 1 tbsp oil to a hot pan. When the oil turns hot, add 2 green cardamoms, ginger & garlic.
- Fry for a minute. Next add 1 cup chopped onions & saute until they turn light golden.
- Put in 1½ cup tomatoes, ¼ teaspoon turmeric and ¼ teaspoon salt.
- Saute for 2 to 3 mins. Cook covered until soft & mushy.
- Add 12 cashews. Cool this completely. Make a fine puree of this in a blender without water.
How to make matar paneer
- Heat 2 tbsps oil in the same pan. Saute 1 inch cinnamon & 1 bay leaf for a minute.
- Pour the pureed onion tomato mixture. If your puree is not smooth, then pass it through a filter/sieve.
- Add ¾ to 1 teaspoon chili powder, sugar, ¾ to 1 teaspoon garam masala and ½ to ¾ teaspoon coriander powder.
- Saute until the masala comes together and turns thick. Keep stirring to prevent burning.
- Next add ¾ cup green peas. Pour 1 to 1 ¼ cups water. If using fresh peas, boil them until tender in a pot, drain and use. If using frozen peas then you can rinse and use.
- Mix well to make a thick gravy. Add more water if needed.
- Mix and cook covered on a medium heat until the gravy thickens and traces of oil appear over the gravy.
- Crush 1 teaspoon kasuri methi in your palm & sprinkle all over. Mix well.
- Check salt and add more if needed. Add 1 slit green chilli & 250 grams cubed paneer.
- Cover and cook just for 2 mins. Sprinkle coriander leaves and cream.
Instant pot Matar paneer
- Make a fine paste of ginger garlic and keep aside. Bring 1 ½ cups water to a rolling boil and add the onions. Boil for 5 mins and remove them.
- To a blender jar, add chopped tomatoes, boiled onions, cashews and cardamoms. Blend them to make a very smooth puree without adding water.
- Press saute button on the instant pot and pour oil. Do not let the pot become too hot. Add bay leaf, cinnamon and ginger garlic (to a side into the oil). Saute for 30 seconds.
- Pour the onion tomato puree. Add red chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt, sugar, coriander powder and garam masala.
- Saute until the mixture turns slightly thicker and aromatic. Cover with an external lid to avoid splatters. This step takes about 5 minutes. Press cancel button.
- Pour 1 cup water and deglaze the pot well. Secure the Instant pot with the lid and position the steam release valve to sealing.
- Press pressure cook button (low) & set the timer to 5 mins. If you want to put your rice together, soak basmati rice for 30 mins and drain the water. Place the rice bowl over a trivet and pour hot water.
- When the IP is done, wait for 6 to 7 minutes & then release the rest of the pressure manually.
- Stir the gravy. Add green peas and cook for 2 minutes. (If you are using fresh peas, you will need to boil them separately and then add here.) To avoid splatters, cover the pot when you cook.
- Taste test and add more salt if needed. If the curry is runny, cook it on saute mode for a few minutes.
- Add kasuri methi, cream and paneer. Stir and Press cancel. Remove the steel insert carefully & cover the pot immediately. Let matar paneer rest for 10 minutes.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Matar Paneer Recipe first published in Sept 2015. Updated and republished in March 2021.