Cheesy peas of the east
Mattar paneer (sweet and spicy cheese with peas)by Kaushy Patel of Prashad, Drighlington
This is a traditional Punjabi dish with a fantastic combination of sweet, fresh and spice flavours.
I was inspired to create my version after eating mattar paneer in a lovely restaurant we went to when we were travelling through Rajasthan.
The paneer was cooked to perfection – crisp on the outside, meltingly soft in the middle. Bliss!
I use frozen petits pois for this dish as they tend to be sweeter and more tender than garden peas.
Ingredients (serves 4)
n 7cm root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
n 200g frozen peas
n Sunflower oil, for frying, plus 100ml
n 380g paneer cheese, cut into 1.5cm cubes
n 1tsp cumin seeds
n 1 x 400g tin peeled plum tomatoes, finely chopped or blended
n 2tsp medium chilli powder
n 2tsp turmeric
n 2-4tsp ground coriander
n ½tsp ground cumin
n 1¼tsp salt
n 1 handful fresh coriander, chopped
Crush the ginger with a pestle and mortar (or in a blender) to make a fine pulp.
Rinse the peas in warm water to start them thawing.
Heat the frying oil – about 1.5cm deep – in a large pan over a high heat (or in a deep fat fryer, if you have one).
Test the temperature by dropping a piece of paneer into the oil; when it is hot enough, the oil will bubble around the cheese.
Reduce the heat to medium. Gently lower the paneer cubes into the oil and fry for 1½ to two minutes, until they start to turn golden brown.
Be particularly careful while they fry, as the moisture in the cheese can sizzle and spit when it meets the hot oil.
Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and leave to rest on kitchen paper to drain.
Heat 100ml of oil in a separate large pan for 90 seconds over a medium heat, then add the cumin seeds.
When they start to brown reduce the heat to low and stir in the tomatoes.
Add the ginger pulp, chilli powder, turmeric, ground coriander, ground cumin, salt and fresh coriander.
Mix well and allow to cook for a minute then stir in the paneer cubes and peas.
Increase the heat to high and pour in 275ml of boiling water.
Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and leave to rest, covered, for at least 10 minutes to allow the flavours to develop.
Spoon off any excess oil then reheat over a medium heat until piping hot.