How is your “New Year’s Resolution” going? Let’s face it, it’s hard. One of my resolutions was to meditate everyday. That lasted about….oh, three days?! Yeah….I need more commitment and strength to sit still and “quiet my mind”. I will get there eventually!….well, hopefully.
Not all of my resolutions are going downhill, though. I am actually very proud of myself for sticking to eating one vegetarian dinner per week. Hubby and I are enjoying all the vegetarian meals I’ve prepared, and it is going very well. I initially thought we would only be eating salad (not that anything is wrong with salad), but I was pleasantly surprised to find so many fun and delicious vegetarian recipes to try. Overall, I’m very happy with how things are going 🙂
Since my “let’s eat vegetarian meal a week” plan is going well, I have decided to add a new category to my recipes. Yes, you’ve guessed it! It’s a “Vegetarian” section!! I hope my vegetarian recipes can help you explore dishes that are so yummy that you forget they don’t even have meat in them!
This recipe is my version of “Matar Paneer”. “Matar” means peas in Hindi and “Paneer” is cheese. A good friend of mine (the same wonderful friend/co-worker who gave me her butter chicken recipe) taught me how to make this dish. I have made the dish a couple of times using her original recipe, but I didn’t have all the ingredients at home this time, and I had to improvise. Instead of using frozen peas and fresh tomato, I used a frozen peas and corn mixture and canned tomato. Since mine has corn in the dish, I had to add “corn” in the name of the dish. I was calling it “Matar Corn Paneer” because I didn’t know how to say corn in Hindi but it didn’t feel right to sneak in just one English word, so I texted another friend to ask how to say corn in Hindi. So the name of the dish is “Matar Makka Paneer”! Hey, at this rate I might add Hindi to my language skills, haha 😉
When I first had paneer, I was super confused. It looks like extra firm tofu, but it tastes like ricotta cheese. I could not put those two together. If you’ve never had paneer, think of it as firm ricotta cheese. When you cut and brown this cheese, it doesn’t melt away like other cheese that we are familiar with. It contains its shape and really cooks like extra firm tofu! And paneer absorbs any flavor that you introduce to the dish. It really is a fun ingredient to cook with!
This dish is savory and the corn adds a little extra sweetness that perfectly complements all the wonderful spices in the dish. I served mine with brown basmati rice and naan. Another vegetarian dish that was super satisfying and put a big smile on my face! Want to try my “Matar Makka Paneer” for dinner?
Matar Makka Paneer
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Total Time: 35 mins
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Main
- 1 package paneer, diced into bite sizes
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 3–4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 3 green hot chili peppers, finely chopped (optional)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped (or half can of diced tomato, drained)
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 cup frozen green peas or corn and peas
- 1 teaspoon garam marsala
- 1 teaspoon sugar (2 teaspoons sugar if you are using canned tomato)
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Hot cooked rice or naan (for serving)
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil on a medium heat and brown the diced cheese on all sides.
- Take the browned cheese out of the skillet and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain the oil.
- On the same skillet, add another tablespoon of vegetable oil on a high heat.
- When the oil is heated, add 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds.
- Fry the seeds until it splatters.
- Add the chopped onions and season with salt. Cook until the onion becomes translucent.
- Once the onion is cooked, add the garlic, ginger, green hot peppers, and turmeric powder. Fry until the mixture turns into a darker color.
- Add tomato, salt, coriander powder, and cumin powder to the skillet and fry on medium heat until all the liquid evaporates.
- Add the frozen green peas, garam marsala, and sugar.
- Fry the mixture for couple of minutes.
- Add the water and browned cheese. Once the mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat down to low and cover. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add about 1 tablespoon of butter and stir the mixture well.
- Season with salt and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
- Serve with hot cooked rice or naan.