Matar Paneer Recipe
Jun 09, 2023
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Make rich and creamy Matar Paneer at home with this step by step recipe! Matar Paneer is one of the most popular paneer recipes where paneer (Indian cottage cheese) and matar (green peas) are simmered together in a luscious gravy made with tomatoes, onions and spices.
The popularity of paneer in Indian cuisine is unquestionable. For every event, wedding, parties in India (north India especially) there is at least 1 paneer dish on the menu. The most popular ones are butter paneer, palak paneer and of course matar paneer. Basically no special vegetarian Indian meal is complete without paneer.
Table of contents
What is Matar Paneer
Matar Paneer is a popular Indian curry made with paneer which is Indian cottage cheese and green peas. It can be made in various ways and usually enjoyed with rotis, paratha and rice. The paneer and peas are cooked with aromatic spices and the curry usually has a base of onions and tomatoes.
In India, my mom would often make matar paneer during winters when fresh peas were in season. The fresh peas added to the freshness of the dish. However, these days people make it all the time using frozen peas. Here in the United States, I don’t see fresh peas very often so I almost always make my matar paneer using frozen peas. This recipe uses frozen peas too.
Paneer: you can use store-bought or homemade paneer for this recipe. If using store-bought paneer, make sure to soak it in warm water for 20 minutes before using it in the recipe.
Onion & tomatoes: for this recipe, I like using yellow onions but you can also use red onions.
Green peas: as green peas are not readily available here in the US, I always use frozen green peas for making matar paneer. Soak them in hot water for 10 minutes before using in the recipe.
Spices: the basic Indian spices used in everyday Indian cooking like coriander powder, turmeric are used here as well. I also use a little bit of fennel powder.
How to Make Matar Paneer- Step by Step Instructions
If using store bought paneer, soak in warm water for 20 minutes before you begin the recipe. Also soak frozen green peas in warm water for 10 minutes before using in the recipe.
1- Heat 1 & 1/2 tablespoon oil in a pan on medium heat. Once hot, add 5-6 cashewnuts and sauté few seconds until they become light golden brown in color. Then add 2 small roughly chopped yellow onions (230 grams) and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until it turns soft and very light brown in color. We don’t want it to turn very brown.
2- Then add 2 teaspoons of ginger garlic paste and cook for 1 minute.
3- Add 3 medium tomatoes/385 grams (roughly sliced) , 1 green chili (or to taste) along with 1/4 teaspoon salt.
4- Stir and cook the tomatoes for 5 minutes until they are very soft. Remove the pan from heat and let it cool down.
5- Then transfer to a blender and grind everything to a smooth paste and set aside.
6- Heat 1 tablespoon ghee and remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a pan on medium heat. Add 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds and let them splutter. Then add 3/4 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder.
7- Stir and immediately add the prepared masala paste. This will give the masala a nice color. Mix until masala is well combined with the chili powder.
8- Then add the following:
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel powder
- 1 teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
Mix until combined. Then add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
9- Stir and cook the masala for 6 to 7 minutes. When done, you will oil ooze out of the masala and the color of the masala will change from orange to reddish. It will also reduce in volume.
10- At this point add 250 grams paneer and 3/4 cup green peas (frozen peas which I had soaked in warm water for 10 minutes before) and mix well.
11- Then add 1 & 1/4 cup water and the remaining salt (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon or to taste). Stir everything and cover and let cook for 3-4 minutes.
12- Garnish with 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, 1/4 teaspoon garam masala, and sprinkle of cardamom powder. You may also add 1 to 2 tablespoons of cream at this point (I didn’t add any). Serve matar paneer hot with rotis or paratha.
Instant Pot Matar Paneer Instructions
To make this matar paneer in an Instant Pot, puree the tomatoes with the green chilies and cashews (soak cashews in hot water for 5 minutes before pureeing it). Press the sauté button on the instant pot. Once it displays hot, add 2 tablespoons of oil (or 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp ghee). Add cumin seeds, and let them sizzle.
Then add the onions and cook them for 2 to 3 minutes until softened. Add the ginger-garlic paste and cook for 1 more minute. Add the pureed tomato-cashew-green chili paste and stir. Add the tomato paste , salt and stir. Cook the masala for around 5 minutes until oil separates from the sides. Add all the spices (except garam masala and kasuri methi) and cook for 1 more minute. Add the paneer and green peas along with 1 cup water. Close the lid and pressure cook on high pressure for 2 minutes with the pressure valve in sealing position. Let the pressure release naturally for 3 minutes and then do a quick pressure release.
Press the sauté button again and add crushed kasuri methi, garam masala and cilantro. Taste test and adjust the salt as needed. You can also add some cream if you like.
- Make it extra creamy: to make this Matar paneer extra creamy, add a couple of tablespoons of fresh cream at the very end. It will make the curry richer and creamier. Although, I prefer this basic version more.
- Fry the paneer cubes: a lot of people like frying their paneer in little oil before using it in the recipe. You can definitely do that. Make sure to soak the fried paneer in warm water for a few minutes before using it in the recipe. Fried paneer definitely adds to flavor.
- Soak the paneer: do not forget to soak the paneer in warm water for at least 20 minutes before using it in the recipe. This is especially important if using store-bought paneer.
- Fresh peas would need more time: if you are using fresh green peas in this recipe, make sure to add them first before adding the paneer and cook until they are soft and done. Add the paneer at the end once the peas are cooked and then simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Reheating: if you have leftovers, store it in the fridge and reheat in a pan or microwave. You would need to add some water while reheating as the curry thickens considerably.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, for this recipe you can just replace the paneer with extra-firm tofu and follow the rest of the recipe as it. I have not added heavy cream here but if you do add heavy cream, replace that with coconut cream.
Yes this recipe is gluten free.
Yes, you can. Although I suggest consuming it within 2 days for best flavor. While reheating, you might need to add a little water as needed. You can also make the masala base and freeze it and then make the matar paneer fresh one the day you want to eat it.
Older Recipe: I have updated the older recipe to a version that I prefer now. This recipe makes a more hearty matar paneer without using yogurt or cream. However, if you would like a copy of the older recipe, drop me an email and I will send you the pdf file.
This post has been updated from the recipe archives, first published in August 2018.
- 2 & 1/2 tablespoons oil divided
- 5-6 whole raw cashews
- 2 small yellow onions roughly chopped, 230 grams, or use red onions
- 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
- 3 medium tomatoes roughly chopped, 385 grams
- 1 green chili or add more to taste
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 3/4 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel powder
- 1 teaspoon kasuri methi dried fenugreek leaves, crushed
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste optional
- 1 + 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste, divided
- 250 grams paneer cut into cubes, soak in warm water for 20 minutes if using store-bought paneer
- 3/4 cup green peas frozen, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes before using in the recipe
- 1 & 1/4 cup water or as needed
- 1-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
- cardamom powder to sprinkle
- 1-2 tablespoons heavy cream optional
- Remember to soak paneer and green peas in warm water for 20 and 10 minutes respectively before using in the recipe. Heat 1 & 1/2 tablespoons of oil in a pan or wok on medium heat. Then add cashews and cook until light golden brown in color. Add chopped onions and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until soft and translucent. Then add the ginger garlic paste and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the roughly chopped tomatoes, green chili with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook the tomatoes for 5 minutes until very soft. Then remove pan from heat and let the mixture cool down. Once it has cooled down, transfer it to a blender and blend to a smooth paste.
- Now, heat 1 tablespoon ghee and remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a pan on medium heat. Add cumin seeds and let them splutter and then add the Kashmiri red chili powder (for bright red color). Stir and add the ground masala paste.
- Add the spices: coriander powder, turmeric, fennel powder and kasuri methi. Also add tomato paste and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- Cook the masala with the spices for 6 to 7 minutes until oil oozes out from the sides. You will also notice that the color of the masala will change to orange to reddish.
- Then add the paneer cubes and green peas. Mix well and add the water and more salt as needed (around 1/4 teaspoon or more). Stir and let it simmer for 3 more minutes.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro, garam masala, and sprinkle of cardamom powder. You may also add 1 to 2 tablespoons of cream. Enjoy matar paneer with rotis.
Instant Pot Instructions
- To make this matar paneer in an Instant Pot, puree the tomatoes with the green chilies and cashews (soak cashews in hot water for 5 minutes before pureeing it). Press the sauté button on the instant pot. Once it displays hot, add 2 tablespoons of oil (or 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp ghee). Add cumin seeds, and let them sizzle.
- Then add the onions and cook them for 2 to 3 minutes until softened. Add the ginger-garlic paste and cook for 1 more minute. Add the pureed tomato-cashew-green chili paste and stir. Add the tomato paste , salt and stir. Cook the masala for around 5 minutes until oil separates from the sides.
- Add all the spices (except garam masala and kasuri methi) and cook for 1 more minute. Add the paneer and green peas along with 1 cup water. Close the lid and pressure cook on high pressure for 2 minutes with the pressure valve in sealing position. Let the pressure release naturally for 3 minutes and then do a quick pressure release.Press the sauté button again and add crushed kasuri methi, garam masala and cilantro. Taste test and adjust the salt as needed. You can also add some cream if you like.
- You can pan fry the paneer for extra flavor. Remember to soak the fried paneer in warm water for 15 minutes and then add it to the gravy.
- Add couple of tablespoons of heavy cream for extra flavor.
- If using fresh green peas, cook them for a longer time since they would need more time to cook compared to frozen peas.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.