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Kolpona Cuisine’s Muttar Paneer with Freshly-Shelled Peas


When Tahmina over at Kolpona Cuisine posted her recipe for muttar paneer, I knew that the minute shell peas came into season, I was going to make it. Before I started reading her blog, I always felt so intimidated by South Asian cooking. Long lists of spices — some ground, some whole — would freak me out so much that I would end up making something French or Italian-inspired instead.

But what I love about Tahmina is how accessible she makes Bengali, Indian and South Asian cooking. Don’t have a spice grinder for garam masala? No problem. Garam masala is better with whole spices anyway — just count how many of each thing you put in, and fish them out with your fingers while you eat. Don’t have paneer? Take that 2% milk you have lying around the house and make cheese!

This is the second recipe from Tahmina that I have cooked (the first being kale paneer), and I loved the results. The serrano peppers and chopped cilantro added near the end of cooking give the dish a wonderful freshness. The peas are also such a pretty contrast to the sunny yellow sauce. It’s really, really good.

I think that by the end of the summer, I will have succeeded in making everything that she posts!

I hardly changed Tahmina’s recipe with the exceptions of using freshly shelled peas, substituting ginger-garlic paste for actual ginger (I didn’t have any) and garlic, and using store-bought paneer. Tahmina recommends making your own paneer  something that I would totally do if I didn’t keep forgetting to watch the clock. I never seem to be able to factor in enough time to let the cheese drain! She also advocates making your own ghee, which is also on my cooking to-do list. I keep forgetting the fenugreek leaves too . . . I need to replace that Post-it pad in the kitchen!

I did have to French up this recipe a little bit by using some fancy crème fraîche in the place of heavy cream 🙂 Oh la la!

And the absolute best part about cooking from a friend’s blog? You feel like they are right in the kitchen with you, even when they are hundreds of miles away 🙂

For the her recipe, click here.

Ingredients:

For the tomato-onion base:

2 tablespoons of ghee or vegetable oil

1/4 cup of raw cashews

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon of ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon of red chili powder

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

1 teaspoon of ground coriander

2 tablespoons of ginger-garlic paste

2 Roma tomatoes, chopped

Salt

For the Garam masala:

Ghee or vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds

5 green cardamom pods

5 whole cloves

2 bay leaves

1 cinnamon stick

For the final dish:

1 cup of freshly shelled peas

2 serrano peppers, chopped

8 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) of paneer, cubed

1/2 cup of cilantro leaves, chopped

1/4 cup of crème fraîche

Salt

How to prepare:

1. In a large saucepan, toast the raw cashews in about two tablespoons of ghee or oil over medium heat. When the cashews begin to color, add the onion and sauté everything together until the onion begins to turn golden around the edges. Add the ground spices and fry them until they are nice and fragrant. Be sure to stir the onion mixture frequently so that the spices don’t burn. Add the ginger paste and the chopped tomatoes. Cook them until the tomatoes begin to break down. Adjust the seasoning.

2. Purée the tomato-onion mixture in a food processor or blender.

3. Using the same saucepan, heat the whole garam masala spices in about a tablespoon of ghee or vegetable oil over medium heat. When the spices are fragrant and the cumin seeds begin to pop, add the puréed tomato-onion base back to the pan. Let the it simmer for a few minutes so that the garam masala spices infuse the tomato-onion mixture. Add chili peppers and the peas and cook them until the peas are just start to become tender, about 4 minutes. Add the paneer, the chopped cilantro leaves and the crème fraîche. Continue to simmer everything together for 3-4 minutes more. Adjust the seasoning for a final time.

Serve with rice or, as Tahmina recommends, chapatis.

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36 Comments

  1. I am so honored that you would read my blog and then to actually make a recipe from it is such an honor. Every time I make one of your recipes (4 so far) I love how they turn out and it’s true I do feel like you were hanging around enjoying the process with me. This is the unexpected pleasure of blogging that I never counted on! The Refugee Gardens have new peas getting ready for harvest this week so I need to try it out. (We started a community garden for refugees and we have enough extra that we sell to local restaurants as well)

    • I feel the same way! I never thought about how much closeness I would feel making recipes from bloggers I met and got to know through their photos and writing. It is great though, really one of the best and most unexpected surprises!

      I love your blog and your outlook on food and eating. So glad to be able to learn from you!

      That Refugee Garden sounds awesome. What a wonderful idea for a community garden!

  2. I often use creme fraiche in curry. This looks great, Daisy – I adore curried foods. Isn’t garam masala delicious. I’ve never made it myself – something which I’m very embarrassed about 😀

    • Thanks, Nick! I never made my own garam masala either until I started following Tahmina’s blog. It’s so easy to leave the spices whole and toss them in hot oil until they are fragrant. Brilliant. Makes me wonder why I ever bought it in the first place!

      Curry is quickly becoming this summer’s go-to meal 🙂

      • Indeed – that’s a great idea and I suppose tends to be what I do – but not on purpose to make garam masala. Indeed, I think I shall post another soon!

        • Can’t wait! Your snazzy camera takes the most mouth-watering photos. But I guess that’s not hard because your food always looks beautiful 🙂

          • Thanks, Daisy! I wish my reader wasn’t broken – people are finding it hard to find me on Worpress – they can’t see my lovely food 😛

            • I know. Ugh, don’t even get me started on wordpress gripes (the reader, the app, the notifications menu) 😛

              I feel a little whiny complaining about an essentially free service, but I just think of all the data they mine off of us and how much they get in advertising.

                • Truly annoying. For some reason, there are a lot of blogs that don’t show up in my reader, so I have an email notification sent to me instead. I can’t imagine that we are the only ones!

  3. This one is on my list too! You both make it look and sound so delicious. I can’t wait for shelling peas here–my CSA starts in a few weeks and I am SO ready.

    • It was delicious! The serrano peppers and cilantro made it so fresh and green! The cashews made the sauce really nutty and creamy too. You have to try it with fresh peas when you get them in your CSA!

  4. My wife is the paneer maker in our household. Usually, when she makes Mattar Paneer she does it with a tomato based sauce but I really like yours. Getting fresh peas is almost impossible here (and my wife uses frozen) but I was thinking it might be nice to use snow peas and cut the pods attractively on the bias…

    • That sounds like a wonderful idea! I just had sugar snap peas for dinner. I am rocking the peas right now 🙂

      How is the greenhouse garden coming along?

      • The temperature is still not quite ready for planting yet. My wife is off to Prague next week and will be gone ten days. She will likely be able to plant as soon as she gets back.

        • I adore Prague. Hopefully the weather will be nice while she is there! And I hope that she brings you back something cool. I have this neat little mushroom knife that is shaped like a fish. Apparently, every Czech schoolkid has one. Sort of weird to think of a whole country of schoolchildren armed and ready to forage!

  5. The list of spices sounds so warm, tasty and comforting! Yum! Reading your post makes me miss living near ethnic restaurants.

    • It is yummy! The list of spices look long, but if you have everything on hand, it comes together really quickly. I actually thought it was better than any restaurant!

    • Me too! I always thought that it was just way over my head, but now I am thinking that once you have the spices in easy reach, it is really easy and versatile.

      Am looking forward to cooking and learning more about it!

  6. brie

    OMG! I love Indian food (not big on eating meat)! I can’t believe that you have included this recipe in your blog! (not that I would be so daring as to try to cook it but, hey, you never know :)!!) Actually you have inspired me- I bought two organic herb plants at my local supermarket today and added them to my family’s frozen ravioli- It’s a start, right? I think I would really enjoy cooking more if I had the time. There is something so meditative about chopping, sauting, roasting, waiting, etc but there are so few weekends where there are such large chunks of time to do all of that!

    • Thanks for the kind comment! All of Tahmina’s recipes are wonderful. She hasn’t been blogging for a while though . . .

      In any case, I found that her advice to leave the spices whole made Indian food so much easier in my mind to make. The anxiety of having all these ground spices lying around the house and deteriorating just made me so anxious! I think the spices taste better whole too. I can just fish them out with my fingers.

      Congratulations on your new herb plants! Isn’t it amazing how much better they make all food? And I love frozen ravioli. So convenient.

      Cooking does take time, which I have been short of this season as well. It’s all about planning, isn’t it?

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