A flavorful stew of peas, tomatoes, and cheese, mutter paneer is a beloved recipe in Northern India. If you want to be authentic, serve this dish with Indian flatbreads like chapati or naan. If you make this dish in May or June, use fresh shelled peas in season. This recipe features fried paneer, which gives a meaty texture to the cubes. Garam masala is fragrant spice mix that includes cinnamon, cumin, and cardamom (available already mixed). Black mustard seed and garam masala are in the international section of large supermarkets or at Indian grocery stores.
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
1 piece (1 inch) fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
2 dry red chili peppers, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons ground coriander seed
1 teaspoon ground cumin seed
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 cups water
4 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
1 pound fresh paneer, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon black mustard seed
1 can (28 ounces) plain chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 cups water
1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas, rinsed with cold water or 1 1/2 cups fresh shelled peas
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint (optional)
1. In a blender, combine the onion, garlic, ginger, chili peppers, coriander and cumin seed, turmeric, and 1/2 cup of the water. Blend on high speed until smooth. Transfer to a bowl.
2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil or ghee until it shimmers. Fry the paneer on one side for 5 minutes or until golden. Turn and fry the other side for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden. With a slotted spoon, transfer the paneer to a plate lined with paper towels.
3. Add the black mustard seed to the pan and cover with a lid. The seeds should start popping very quickly. When the popping sound slows down, pour in the spice and onion mixture and the remaining 1 cup water. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until most of the liquid evaporates. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Add the peas and paneer. Cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes, adding a little water if the mixture seems too thick.
5. Turn off the heat, stir in the coriander, mint, if using, and garam masala. Adapted from “Lord Krishna’s Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking’’