Matar Paneer is an easy, tomato based Indian cottage cheese curry that is full of flavor and pairs well with roti, naan, steamed rice or jeera rice too.
This recipe is one of the first curries I ever learned how to make. Paneer or Indian cottage cheese is not a typical ingredient used in most Goan / Mangalorean households, but it’s one that’s widely used throughout north India. If you haven’t tried it yet, you really should. It’s one of the tastiest things I have eaten. Right from the first time my mother made this curry for us, I was hooked. I think this is one of the main reasons I actually wanted to know how it was made.
To really enjoy your paneer, you need to source some good quality paneer. In India, most dairy shops have some great, fresh paneer and it’s quite easy to find. Outside India, you will have to try a couple of brands out to find something you really like. I’ve found that the brands in my local supermarkets just don’t cut it. The paneer is rubbery and chewy and is not that flavorful. Now that goes against everything that good paneer is supposed to be. So after a lot of trial, I found some great quality paneer at my local Indian grocery store. This paneer is locally made and ticks all the boxes for me, when it comes to taste and texture.
This curry is a tomato based curry. Ideally, use fresh tomatoes if they are in season. If not, you can always use some passata, canned tomatoes or tomato puree. You can serve this curry up either with some roti or naan and it even goes really well with rice. Plain steamed rice is fine, but I serve it up with a beautiful Jeera Rice that is perfect for curries like this one.
Let’s have a look at the recipe, shall we?
Breakfast happens to be one of my favorite meals of the day. Well, a weekend breakfast, that is. Its the perfect time to whip up a batch of pancakes or French Toast or muffins. And if you’re the mood for something savory, then eggs and toast with the optional bacon and sausages is a great option. If you’re in a slightly more adventurous mood, then only a masala omelette will do. We love a good omelette. It needs to have nice bold flavors, a little spice and a little bite as well. We love it so much, that it sometimes makes an appearance as “breakfast for dinner”. Anyone else like “breakfast for dinner” as much as I do? I cannot believe that I haven’t shared this recipe with you before. It is super simple and so good. We usually serve it with some plain / buttered toast or some hot chapatis. They also make a fantastic sandwich when served between 2 slices of buttered bread. Try it out this weekend and let me know what you think of it.
Yields 1 omelette
2 tbsp finely chopped onions
2 tbsp finely chopped tomatoes
1-2 tsp finely chopped coriander leaves and stalks
1/2 birdseye chilly, finely chopped
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
A good pinch of turmeric powder
1 tsp oil
Add the onions, tomatoes, chilly and coriander to a bowl.
Add the salt, pepper and turmeric powder to the bowl and mix everything thoroughly.
Heat a pan over medium heat.
Drizzle the oil in the pan. When the oil has heated, pour the omelette mix into the pan.
Cook it over medium heat till the bottom side has set and turned a light brown.
Carefully flip over and cook on the other side as well.
You can watch how I make it here –
After a lot of searching, high and low, I found a recipe, that I tweaked to try and replicate the flavors I so vividly remember. Since I cook for just my husband and I, this recipe is scaled down. I also just use my favorite veggies from that day – okra (bhindi) and potatoes (aloo). I found that these are also some of the easy ones to work with. I don’t make this recipe very often, because the veggies start off by getting deep fried and are then tossed with a spice mix (tava masala), and the deep frying tips this to the slightly indulgent side.
The spice mix, or my version of the tava masala is hot a very hot mix. The spices used are warm and flavorful. The chaat masala is an integral part of this recipe. If you haven’t tried it before, it is a blend of a few spices like cumin, pepper and a few others with some powdered mango. So it has a unique flavor profile, you get a slight hit of salt, tang from the mango and delicious flavor from the blend of other spices. You can easily find this at any Indian grocery store. (This chaat masala also works well with other chaat recipes you find on my blog.)
So try this easy stir fry recipe. This is best enjoyed served hot with some chapatis, rotis, naan or other flatbread of your choice. It would also work well as a side dish to some hearty Dal & Rice.
Tava Style Aloo Bhindi
3 medium potatoes
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 – 1 tsp Kashmiri chilly powder (or any other mild chilly powder)
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp chaat masala
Salt, to taste
1 1/2 – 2 tbsp oil, plus oil for deep frying
Place a pan with the oil for deep frying on medium high heat.
Wash and peel the potatoes and cut into evenly sized fries / chips.
Wash the okra and pat dry. Chop the stalks off the okra and discard. Try and use okra that is similar in size, if not, cut them down to about the same size as the potato pieces.
By now, the oil should be hot. Carefully, and in batches, add the potatoes to the oil. Don’t overcrowd the pan or the oil will froth over and spill.
Deep fry the potatoes on medium heat till they’ve cooked through. Drain using a slotted spoon and set aside on some kitchen paper to get rid of any excess oil.
Deep fry the okra on medium heat till they have start getting a little darker in color and have started crisping up.
Drain using a slotted spoon and set aside on some kitchen paper to get rid of any excess oil, like you did the potatoes.
Take the oil for deep frying off the heat.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pan on medium heat. When the oil is warm, NOT hot, add in the turmeric powder first and then add the rest of the spice powders.
Stir that through for about 20-30 seconds or till the spices get aromatic.
Add the okra to the pan and toss well. Lastly add the potatoes and toss to coat the veggies with the spices evenly.
Check for seasoning and add salt, to taste. Toss well.
You can watch the video recipe here –
Today, I’m going to share with you the recipe for that amazing Goan Fish curry. This is a coconut based curry and combined with a few spices, you will be rewarded with the most gorgeous bowl of Fish curry. A good Goan Fish Curry is known for its color. They key to great color is good Kashmiri chillies. Kashmiri chillies are dried red chillies, very widely used in Indian cuisine. They are mild chillies so you won’t get much heat from them, but they are known for the vibrant color they lend to the dish in which they are used. You can find Kashmiri chillies in any Indian store. In Sydney, I have used a few brands and a lot of them don’t meet the mark at all. That was until I tried the ‘Uttam’ brand of Kashmiri chillies. Now, for the first time in years, I’ve managed to get a delicious curry with fantastic color. That made me very happy. Another important factor to a good curry is the curry paste. You need to grind the masala (spices) to a fine paste. Grind it for 3-4 minutes with a couple of breaks every now and then, so that your mixer (blender) doesn’t overheat and trip. Lastly, sourness or tang is very important to a great curry. The curry needs to be balanced, but without enough sourness, it just won’t taste right. That being said, add sourness to taste.
If you’re in the mood for a great Goan meal, try out this curry.
Goan Fish Curry
1/2 kg fish of your choice (I used Mackerel)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
A ball of tamarind, the size of a walnut
2-3 fresh green / red chillies, slit (optional)
Salt, to taste
2-3 pieces of Kokum / Mango sol (dried mango) (These are souring agents, use as much or as little as you need. If raw mango is available, use a few pieces of it and you curry will be even better)
** If you are using Mackerel, 4-5 tefla berries are added to the pot along with the curry paste and water and cooked. (I haven’t been able to find it in Sydney yet, so I left it out. But it makes a huge difference to the flavor of the curry, so try and get your hands on some, if you can.)
For the curry paste / masala –
8 dried red Kashmiri chillies
6 large cloves of garlic or 10 small ones
8 black peppercorns
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 coconut, grated
Water, as required
Cut the fish into pieces and season them with a little salt and set them aside.
Soak the tamarind in about 1/4 cup of warm water and set aside for about 5 minutes.
Grind the tamarind and the water it was soaking in and all the ingredients listed under “For the curry paste” to a find paste using water as needed.
Place the sliced onion, tefla (if using), the curry paste and 2 cups of water in a pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. You need to maintain the liquid content to have the right consistency. So top up with water, as needed.
Add the kokum / mango (if using), whole slit chillies and the fish pieces. Bring the curry to a boil again. Let this simmer on low heat for 5-10 minutes (depending on the size of the pieces of fish) or till the fish is cooked.
Check the seasoning and add more salt / sourness, if needed.
Serve with hot boiled rice.
To complete the meal, serve some fried fish and Kismur with it.
Today’s post takes me back about 16 years. Back to when I first started working (gosh I feel old now). Back then, our meals were taken care off by the work place. And for me that was novelty because growing up we almost never ate out. My mum would cook up every meal and snack for us at home and as kids we were content with that. But eating in the office cafeteria was interesting. Here, I was introduced to such a variety of food from different parts of the country (India). But I wasn’t too keen on cooking then. During those days I only enjoyed making our traditional Goan sweets (Kuswar) for Christmas and other Goan sweets that my Nana would whip up for us for afternoon tea or an after school snack.
One of the dishes I encountered in the office cafeteria, that eventually became a favorite, was Methi Malai Matar (meaning Grean Peas in a Creamy fenugreek gravy.) It has strong Indian flavors but is mildly spiced. After moving to Sydney, I began craving some of this stuff. And it was only then I decided I was going to have to learn to make this dish myself, much like I had to learn so many other Indian recipes that I wanted to enjoy. Now the challenge was finding fresh Fenugreek leaves. The only place I’ve found fresh leaves is at one vendor at the Paddy’s Market in Flemington. But that’s a long drive from us. So I thought I’d try and find a recipe that used dried leaves (known as Kasoori Methi) which is easily available at any Indian grocery store. And let me tell you, I found one. I couldn’t believe how easy this little curry is to put together. With just a handful of ingredients, in less than half an hour you can be sitting down to a warm bowl of Methi Malai Matar for dinner. This goes really well with roti / chapatis, but you can also enjoy this with some bread or plain rice.
Methi Malai Matar
Recipe from: Sharmi’s Passions
1 cup green peas (fresh or frozen will both work, if using frozen let it thaw before using)
3 tbsp Kasoori Methi
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
1 green chilly, finely chopped (optional)
1 cup milk
5 cashew nuts
2-3 tbsp cream
1/2 tsp Garam Masala Powder
1 tsp Red Chilly Powder
1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tbsp oil (I use olive oil for cooking)
Salt, to taste
Soak the cashewnuts in a couple of tablespoons of milk for about 15 minutes.
Grind this to a smooth paste and keep aside.
In a pot / saucepan heat the oil on medium heat.
Add the cumin seeds to the oil.
When the cumin seeds start to sizzle, add the ginger garlic paste and green chillies and saute for a minute.
Now, add the chopped onions and saute till they’ve slightly browned.
Add the cashew paste and fry it for a couple of minutes, stirring to avoid burning.
Now add the turmeric powder, red chilly powder and the garam masala powder. Add salt to taste and stir well.
Now add the rest of the milk and stir.
Let it come to a boil and then simmer for about 2-3 minutes and the gravy will start thickening.
Add the cream and stir in.
Now add the green peas. Let the peas heat through and let the gravy come to a boil again.
Now add the kasoori methi and stir.
If the gravy is too thick at this stage, add a little water to achieve desired consistency. Just make sure the gravy comes to a boil after the water is added and simmer for a couple of minutes.
If the gravy is not thick enough, let it continue cooking, stirring occasionally, till it thickens to your liking.
Serve hot with rotis / chapatis.
We use a roasted masala (spice mix) for this curry. So there is an extra step of roasting a few ingredients before grinding, but it doesn’t take too long and that added step does a whole lot of good stuff for your curry. It adds amazing depth of flavor and your curry just wouldn’t be the same without roasting the masala.
So if you’re craving some good Goan food, try this curry. It took us right back to Goa. And until we visit Goa again, we’ll just have to make do with little culinary gems like this one.
Goan Crab Curry
3 Blue Swimmer Crabs (or any other crabs of your choice)
8 curry leaves (curry patta)
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
2-3 fresh green chillies, slit
5-6 pieces of Kokum*** (See note below)
1 tbsp oil (We use olive oil for all our cooking, you can use whatever mild cooking oil you have)
Salt, to taste
For the Masala (Spice Paste) –
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped
6 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
3/4 inch ginger, roughly chopped
1/2 cup grated coconut (fresh or frozen will both work. If using frozen, let it thaw before roasting)
10 Kashmiri Chillies (See note below), discard stalks
1 tbsp Coriander seeds
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
1 tsp tumeric powder
8-10 peppercorns (this will add heat so use about 6-8 for a milder curry and around 10 if you want it hotter)
1 tbsp oil
1 tomato, roughly chopped
Prep the crabs, sprinkle a little salt (about 1/2 tsp) on it, toss it in a bowl to salt the crabs well and set aside.
Roasting the Masala –
Heat a large pan / tava on medium heat.
Drizzle the oil in the pan and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Saute till it softens a bit.
Add the coconut and stirring frequently, roast it till it gets fragrant and the color starts changing. Lower the heat, if needed, to ensure the coconut and the spices don’t burn.
Next add the Kashmiri chillies, coriander and cumin seeds and stir with the rest of the ingredients for about another 30 seconds.
Now add the turmeric powder, cloves, peppercorns and cinnamon to the rest of the spices in the pan and roast for about another 30 seconds to a minute, till it all gets fragrant and heated through.
Take off the heat and transfer to a large plate to cool.
Once it has cooled to room temperature, grind the roasted spice and coconut mix with the chopped tomato and a little water to a fine, smooth paste in the blender.
For the curry –
Take a large pot, preferably with a slightly wide base that you will be able to fit all the crabs into.
Heat a tbsp of oil and add the finely chopped onion to the pan.
Saute till it has softened and is golden brown.
Add the spice paste and stir through. Let if fry off for about 2 minutes.
Add the Kokum at this stage.
Next add the crabs stir to coat with the spices.
Now add a little water to achieve the desired consistency for your curry.
If you don’t have kokum and are using apple cider vinegar, add the vinegar, to taste, at this stage.
Let it come to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes (Please note, this time will vary depending on the size of the crabs.)
Check for seasoning and add more salt if needed. At this stage if you find the curry too thick you can add a little more water to thin it down a little and continue to cook till it comes back to a boil.
If you find your curry too thin and want it thicker, continue cooking on a medium high heat till you get the desired thickness, stirring every now and then to ensure the curry doesn’t stick to the pan and burn.
Serve hot with some boiled rice or bread.
– Kokum is an Goan souring agent (dried pieces of the Indian plum) using in cooking. You will find it in any Indian grocery store. If you don’t have any on hand, just use some Apple Cider Vinegar, to taste.
– Kashmiri Chillies are dried red chillies. These are mild in flavor. You can substitute any other mild dried chillies or chilly powder.