While I enjoy matar paneer (peas and cheese), I have cut way back on how much cheese I consume. This is definitely helping my waistline. So in this recipe, we will replace the cheese with super firm tofu.
When I was working in Pakistan, I do not remember having matar paneer. But it is a dish I love, and after some experimentation, this is my version. But to please everyone in the family, I only use about 1/2 of the spices used in an authentic Indian recipe.
Let’s talk about the ingredients we will use.
Bay leaves the recipe going to say two, but these were small, so that we will use three. To prevent choking, I always remove them before serving.
Fresh green chili peppers. The recipe really needs some fresh green chili. These are from a local Indian market and very spicy. Use whatever kind your comfort eating. Taking out the seeds and membranes will help reduce the fire.
Cilantro, AKA soapweed. I love the stuff others (my wife) hates cilantro. If you like it at the very end of cooking, add some and mix it in.
Onion this dish needs lots of onion. For this dish, the onion should be finely diced.
For tofu, we used extra firm tofu. To give it a better texture, freeze it then defrost it. Before using, I use my hands to squeeze out just a bit more water. If you do not want to use your hands or can only find firm tofu, you can use a tofu press. Or even just put between something heavy and let the water come out.
Garlic and ginger. Fresh is best, but today I used the stuff out of the jar. Let’s face it; convenience sometimes wins. But either way, you want to use more garlic than ginger.
Salt. We will use salt for flavor and help pull moisture out of the veggies. Before starting, I put 1/2 a teaspoon into a small bowl to use various steps. But I did add a pinch more at the end.
Spices that we will use from our Spice Box are:
Kashmiri chili powder. You can use red chili powder; keep in mind that Indian chili powder is spicy. You may want to adjust how much you use.
Coriander powder is made from cilantro seeds. But it taste nothing like the plant.
Garam Masala is a spice blend; when choosing one, read the ingredients. The ingredients will vary wildly between companies that make the blend.
Turmeric historically has been used to treat several diseases, including rheumatism. Does it help? I am not sure, but it tastes good.
Note if you have an Indian market close by, they usually have the best prices for spices.
Tomatoes since it’s not the best time of the year for tomatoes, we used Roma tomatoes. You want to use roughly 1.5 times the amount of onion.
Peas if you can find fresh ones use them but these are frozen.
Red onion serve some on the side.
First, chop the tofu into bite-sized pieces, then sprinkle on some salt. Let the salt soak in a while preparing everything else.
Add two Tablespoons of Safflower Oil to a pan on medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the tofu and brown on two sides. You can brown on more sides, but two works for me. Remove the tofu and set aside.
In the pan with the oil left from frying the tofu add the onion, garlic, ginger, green chili pepper, and a pinch of salt. The salt will help the onion release its liquid and break down.
Cook on medium to medium-low heat to brown the onions. This took me about ten minutes.
At this point, you need to decide if you want to keep adding oil or use water. I decided on the healthier water, so I added two tablespoons of water and my spices with the remaining salt. Then cooked for two more minutes.
If you decide on oil, use 1/2 a Tablespoon of oil, then add the spices and cook for two minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes and cook on medium heat until they have broken down. If the mixture starts to get, dry add a little water (or oil) as needed. This took me about five minutes.
At this point, we are ready to add 2/3 cup of water. Raise the heat to be high and bring it to a boil. When it comes to a boil, add the tofu and frozen peas.
When most of the water has cooked off, give it a taste test. If it needs more salt, add it now. I added just a pinch more.
Now add the chopped cilantro and cook for one more minute then serve.
- 8 oz Extra Firm Tofu
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 Tablespoons Safflower oil
- 1 Cup Onion Finely Diced
- 1 Tablespoon Garlic
- 1 teaspoon Ginger
- 1 Tablespoon Green Chili
- 1.5 Cup Tomato Finely Diced
- 1/2 teaspoon Red Chili Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
- 1/2 teaspoon Coriander Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- 2 each Bay Leaves
- 2 Tablespoon Cilantro Fresh / chopped
- Cut the tofu into bite sized pieces then sprinkle on some salt.
- Add two Tablespoons of Safflower Oil to a pan on medium heat. When the oil is hot add the tofu and brown on two sides.
- Remove the tofu and set aside.
- To the pan with the oil left from frying the tofu add the onion, garlic, ginger, green chili pepper and a pinch of salt.
- Cook on medium to medium low heat to brown the onions.
- Add two tablespoons of water and the spices. Then cook for two minutes.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and cook on medium heat until they have broken down. Add water as needed.
- At this point we are ready to add 2/3 cup of water. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil.
- After it comes to a boil add the tofu and frozen peas.
- When most of the water has cooked off adjust seasoning
- Add chopped cilantro and cook for one more minute