Prashad’s mattar paneer

Mattar paneer

Mattar paneer

This is one of those vegetarian Indian dishes I’ve always adored but had no clue how to make. When I tried to describe it to Sophie, she looked at me askance – and I have to admit that the idea of curried cheese and peas is a little odd, until you’ve tried it.

My favourite version of this dish comes from the amazing Milan’s in Leicester. My dad – who scoffs at the idea of takeout usually – will travel there specially to pick up a few Tupperwares of this stuff, it’s that good.

This is another recipe from the fabulous Prashad cookbook. I wanted to share this because it really is delicious and it’s almost as good as Milan’s (and yet another great veggie recipe from this stellar cookbook!).

Serves 4

Cooking time: 45 mins

What you need

Sunflower oil for frying the cheese

380g paneer cheese, cut into 1cm cubes

2 tsp cumin seeds

400g tinned chopped tomatoes

A good chunk of ginger, peeled, chopped and mashed in a pestle and mortar

2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp ground turmeric

2-4 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp ground cumin

1 ½ tsp salt

Handful fresh coriander

200g frozen peas

How to make it

  1. Heat a deep layer of oil (about 5 cm) in a deep frying pan until very hot. Check the oil is ready by dropping in one cube of paneer. Once it starts to fizz, the oil is ready and you can add the rest. Be careful here – don’t throw it in, or the oil will spit. Turn down the heat and fry for 2-3 minutes until browned all over. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on kitchen roll. Set aside the oil to cool (you can reuse this another day, or throw away).
  2. In a separate pan, heat 100ml of fresh oil over a medium heat, then add the cumin seeds. Once they start to pop, add the tomatoes carefully and reduce the heat.
  3. Next, add the ginger, chilli powder, turmeric, ground coriander, cumin salt and coriander, and stir well.
  4. Add the paneer and the peas, and 275ml boiling water. Bring to the boil stir then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and leave for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and check the seasoning. Adjust as necessary, and all to rest for 10-15 minutes (this is to allow the flavours to develop).
  6. To serve, spoon off any excess oil that has gathered on the surface, and reheat gently until hot once again. Sprinkle over any leftover coriander and enjoy alongside any other curry and rice.