A popular Indian curry dish made with green peas and Indian cottage cheese, comes from the versatile North Indian cuisine. I am sharing our family recipe for a simple and tasty whisper paneer at home.
About this recipe
This simple homemade matar paneer is spiced to perfection and cooked with green peas (matar) and paneer which is Indian cottage cheese.
It’s a tasty Indian dish that I cook often, because matar paneer – is one of the most popular dishes in North India.
I’ve been making this recipe for YEARS. I initially learned how to make it from my in-laws – a classic Punjabi recipe that was really hassle-free, easy, and simple!
It tastes really delicious, but it is much simpler and gives a more comforting and warm feeling.
I’m sharing three ways to prepare this dish: in a pressure cooker (with step-by-step guide), in the Instant Pot, and in a pot or skillet on the stovetop.
Ingredients you need
- Paneer (Cottage Cheese): Paneer is a fresh, super mild, unaged Indian cottage cheese, usually made from cow’s milk. If needed, you can use ricotta cheese instead of the paneer, but it’s important to note that ricotta cheese can be salty and paneer isn’t. Before using the ricotta, squeeze and drain the extra whey from it.
- Vegetables: You will need a few green chillies, a few medium-sized ripe red tomatoes, a medium or large onion, and fresh or frozen green peas (matar).
- Cashews: Cashews act as a creamy thickener for masala paste. However, if you don’t have cashews, you can substitute the almonds.
- Seasonings: You will need several seasonings and spices for this paneer whisper recipe, including black peppercorns, cardamom, coriander leaves and seeds, cumin seeds, garam masala powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder, salt, ginger, garlic, cloves and cinnamon.
How to make Matar Paneer
Gather the ingredients for the masala paste
1. First, add all the ingredients for the masala paste to a blender or grinder. Make sure to include:
- ½ cup chopped onions
- ¾ to 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon of chopped ginger
- 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic
- 10 to 12 cashews
- 2 tablespoons of coriander leaves (cilantro)
- 1 teaspoon of chopped green peppers
- 4 to 5 black peppercorns
- 1 inch cinnamon (use real cinnamon. For cassia cinnamon, use ½ inch)
- 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
- 1 green cardamom – optional
- 2 cloves
2. After that, blend the ingredients into a smooth paste. If needed, add 2-3 tablespoons of water while grinding. When the paste is creamy and mixed to a fine consistency, set aside.
NOTE: There should not be any small cashew chunks or pieces in the paste.
3. Then to a 2 liter pressure cooker, add 3 tablespoons of oil. Let the oil get hot. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add ½ teaspoon of cumin seeds and fry them until they become little brown.
Add masala paste
4. Then add the ground masala paste and stir well.
TIP: It is important to be careful when cooking because masala paste can splash when added to the pressure cooker. Partially cover the range with a lid if there is too much crackling.
5. Now you are going to sauté the paste mixture for about 10 to 12 minutes over medium-low heat.
You want to be sure for the oil to separate from the paste. The masala paste will also thicken and appear little shiny.
Add ground spices
6. After sautéing the masala paste, add all the dry spice powders, saute them for one minute and mix to combine well. Make sure to include:
- ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon of red Kashmiri or sweet paprika powder (also with ¼ to ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper or red pepper powder)
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon of garam masala powder
NOTE: If you want to add heavy or light cream or malai, you can add it at this step. Add 1 tbsp of heavy or light cream or malai. Instead of cream, add with ¼ cup whole milk.
Add green peas
7. Then add 1 cup of washed green peas or matar.
8. Mix again.
9. Then add salt, 1 to 1.25 cups of water and mix well.
10. Now, it is the time to cook the green peas under pressure until they are completely cooked. Make sure you cover the stove well, then over medium to medium-high heat, cook for about 9-10 minutes or 2-3 whistles.
NOTE: Open the pressure cooker lid when the pressure drops on its own. If the sauce looks thin, simmer until it reaches the desired consistency.
The consistency should be medium. If the sauce seems thick, add a small amount of water and let it simmer.
For a little sweet taste, you can also add up to ½ teaspoon of sugar.
Make Matar Paneer
11. Finally, add the paneer cubes and stir well or for a few seconds, simmer over low heat or until the paneer cubes are completely cooked. Do not overcook as the paneer will become hard and rubbery.
At this step, you can add more flavor, including ½ teaspoon crushed kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves).
NOTE: You have to avoid overcooking, otherwise the paneer will become hard and rubbery. You can even fry the paneer pieces separately, then add them to the curry.
Garnish and serve
12. Now your matar paneer is ready, garnish with cilantro leaves (chopped) and serve hot.
Matar paneer tastes good with Indian flatbreads like Naan, Paratha and Roti. It also pairs well with jeera rice and steamed basmati rice.
At home, I usually make paratha or roti to accompany it, but a side vegetable salad or raita goes very well with it.
Also, you can go for a curry mop with Poori (Indian fried bread) and even your usual daily bread or rolls.
Storage and leftovers
If you have any leftover Whisper Paneer, refrigerate in an airtight container for 1 to 2 days. The curry will become thick after cooling and so, while reheating it, add a little water to soften the consistency.
Instant pot method
In an Instant Pot, matar paneer can be made easily. I make so many Indian recipes in the Instant Pot and even this paneer whispers. Read the instructions below to prepare the Matar Paneer in your Instant Pot.
- Preparation: Prepare the masala paste with cashews, herbs, spices and tomatoes as shown in the step by step guide above. Put aside.
- Stir-Fry: Press the Instant Pot’s Stir-Fry button and let the display show “hot”. Add oil to the inner steel pot. First crack the cumin seeds. Add the ground masala paste and sauté, stirring continuously, until it thickens and looks shiny. If the pan gets too hot, you can press the Sauté button twice to reduce the setting.
- Adding Ground Spices: Add garam masala powder, red chili powder and turmeric powder. Mix and sauté for a minute.
- Including green peas: Add green peas, salt, 1 cup water and mix well. Press the cancel button.
- Pressure cooking: Tighten the lid and position the valve on the seal. Press the manual cook / pressure button and set the time to 3 minutes. Cook under pressure at high pressure. Wait 5 minutes after hearing the beep when cooking is complete, then quickly release the pressure.
- Final touches: press the cancel button. Add the paneer cubes and mix well. Finally add a few coriander leaves and stir again.
- Tomatoes: Include ripe, sweet tomatoes. If the tomatoes are sour, the curry will taste bitter. To balance the acidity, add sugar or a little light cream.
- Creamier version: For a slightly creamier version, I add cashews, but these can be sautéed. To give the curry citrus notes, I also add coriander leaves (coriander). If you’re not a fan of cilantro, skip them.
- Version without onion without garlic: In my recipe, you can sauté both garlic and onions. To mimic their flavors, add a small pinch of asafoetida (hing) after adding the cumin seeds and before adding the masala paste. Mix well then add the ground masala paste. Make sure you don’t burn the asafoetida by frying it in oil.
- Scaling: You can make a small or a large batch by easily scaling the recipe.
- Prepare in advance: If you are pressed for time, grind / mix the masala dough and freeze it for a few days or refrigerate it overnight, so that you can easily cook the matar paneer sauce the next day. .
- Fats: I always have the paneer whisper in the oil. For a richer version, you can prepare it in ghee (clarified butter).