South Indian Style Paneer Mattar


Yesterday was one of those days. Yes one of *those* days. I woke up early, feeling amazing with a big smile on my face, leapt out of bed with a huge bolt of energy and drew back the curtains to see…oh what have we here? Grey skies, rain, a sodden garden and general wetness and dullness…everywhere. I immediately let out a long grunt type noise, that phonetically spelt out, would be something along the lines of UGGHH. My first thought was to jump straight back into bed and stay there. I mean, Wednesday is nearly Friday which is practically the weekend…right?! I spent a few more minutes trying to rationalise the idea but then opened up my reminders app on auto-pilot, and saw my epic “To Do” list staring at me. Grave error – my dreams of returning to a quilty haven shattered in a single click of the Home button. 

Some may call me over dramatic (my other half regularly does) but I’m a huge believer that weather can truly affect your mood. I knew that I needed something to “pick me up”. After a quick visit to the gym, (they say you only start burning fat after 20 minutes of cardio – I thought 21 minutes on the step machine was as a solid time) I decided I would make lunch before I started my day. Cooking generally puts me in a good mood and I figured it would give me something to look forward to!

This brings me to today’s recipe. Have you ever made paneer before? I make it ALL the time. It’s so quick to cook, a good source of protein and super versatile. Paneer Mattar is a dish I cook regularly at home – it’s lovely and comforting. Imagine a creamy and chunky casserole but with a depth of warm spiciness and just a cheeky little kick.  This time round, I decided to “pimp” my usual recipe by giving it a South Indian twist with mustard seeds & curry leaves. Let’s just say my pre-lunch frown was quickly turned upside-down!

If you have never used curry leaves in your cooking before, you must try. They’re beautifully warm and fragrant and bring any dish to life.

Give it a go!


South Indian Style Paneer Mattar
Serves 4
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  1. 220g paneer, chopped
  2. 5-6 tbsp olive oil
  3. 1 tsp cumin
  4. 1 tsp mustard seeds
  5. handful of curry leaves, washed, dried & roughly chopped
  6. 2" ginger, grated
  7. 2 cloves garlic, peeled & grated
  8. 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  9. 1 1/2 tsp salt or according to taste
  10. 1/2 tsp paprika
  11. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  12. 1 tsp garam masala
  13. 2 tbsp greek yoghurt
  14. 2 plum tomatoes & 2 tbsp tomato juice
  15. 1 cup peas
  1. Heat 1-2tbsp oil in a non-stick pan. Once hot, add the cumin seeds. When they begin to splatter, add the paneer and a pinch of salt. Cook for 2-4 minutes or until golden on one side. Turn over the paneer pieces and cook until golden on the other side. Remove paneer from pan.
  2. Add remaining oil to a non stick pan. Once hot, add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. You will see them begin to splatter immediately. At this point, add the ginger, garlic and chilli. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until golden.
  3. Now add the salt, paprika, turmeric powder & garam masala. Add the yoghurt and stir quickly. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the yoghurt blends well with the masala.
  4. Add the tomatoes and juice and mash well into the masala. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Now add the peas and 2 cups of water. Bring to boil. Now add the paneer and cook for further 2 minutes. Check for salt and adjust accordingly. Remove from heat.
  5. Serve with hot chapattis or naan bread!
  1. You can leave the skin on ginger, before grating - just make sure it's washed and clean. This way you have zero wastage from peeling!
  2. You can sauté the paneer in cumin before hand and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge until you want to use it. This paneer can also be used in salads as a tasty topping!
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog


Easy Paneer, Peppers & Cabbage Masala

cabbage paneer capsicum

Not sure if I’ve mentioned this before (I definitely have) but I love paneer! The beauty of this traditional Indian cheese is its sheer versatility. It’s mild in flavour and as a result absorbs spices particularly well. This recipe is an extremely quick and easy way of making a delicious and satisfying meal in minutes. It’s colourful, flavourful and filling and the crunchiness of the vegetables perfectly compliments the creaminess of the paneer…in essence this dish works! Give it a try and do share your thoughts with me.

photo 2

Serves 4-6

What we need:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
250g paneer, cut into 1″ cubes
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 green & 1 red capsicum, thinly sliced
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 cup thinly sliced cabbage
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 heaped tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp salt or according to taste
1 tsp ground ginger powder
1 tsp chilli powder
Handful fresh coriander

How we do:

  • Heat the oil in a non stick pan. Once hot, add the cumin seeds and when they begin to splatter, add the garlic and cook until slightly golden. Now add the paneer and cook for 2-3 minutes , stirring constantly until it turns golden brown.
  • Now add the capsicum, onion, cabbage and cheese. Mix well for 1-2 minutes. Now add the tomato puree, salt, ground ginger powder, chilli powder. Mix and cook for a further 3-5 minutes.
  • Sprinkle on fresh coriander and serve with chapatis or stuff with salad into a wrap.

Punjabi Paneer Mattar

Paneer mattar is a classic Punjabi party dish. For those who aren’t familiar with paneer, it’s a type of Indian cheese. Mild in taste but creamy in texture , paneer works well with really flavourful masalas as it absorbs all the aromas and seasonings of the spices. Paneer comes in two forms. If you make it at home it’s in a crumbles cottage cheese type consistecy (recipe here). If you get it from the store, it comes in block form. Today’s recipe uses the latter form. This dish is delicious and always goes down well at the The Spice Club. This recipe is dedicated to Matt Hall @codebeef who was our 600t follower on Twitter!

Serves 4

What we need:
5 tbsp olive oil
1 block of paneer (approx 250g), cut into 1 inch cubes
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric powder
1-2 tsp salt (or according to taste)
1 tbsp ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 green chilli, finely chopped
handful of fresh coriander, chopped
1/2 tin plum tomatoes
1/2 cup peas (if frozen, thaw in water and strain)

How we do:

  • In a non stick frying pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the cumin seeds. Once they begin sizzle, add the paneer cubes. Now add the salt and half of them amount of turmeric powder.
  • Lightly fry until paneer turns golden on both sides. Remove from heat.
  • In a food processer, add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli. Now add the salt, paprika,  turmeric powder, coriander powder, garam masala and half the amount of coriander. Blitz until a coarse paste has been formed
  • In a pan, heat the remaining olive oil.  Add some cumin seeds and allow them to start sizzling. Now add the ground masala paste. Cook on medium heat until golden brown stirring continuously.
  • When you see the masala paste is nice and golden, add the plum tomatoes and mash well so it blends with the masala. Keep stirring and cook for 4-5 minutes. Once the oil begins to separate from the masala, add the peas. Mix well and toss in the fried paneer.
  • Add water so it is just covering the vegetables and paneer and continue and bring to boil. Let it reduce to about half the amount. Check for salt and adjust accordingly.
  • Sprinkle in the fresh coriander and you’re done! Best served with hot, fresh chapatis.