This dish of saucy, seared paneer channels the flavors traditionally found in matar paneer—coriander, cumin, chile, and ginger—into a quick-cooking cherry tomato sauce that’s packed with bright spring-y sugar snap peas. If you can’t find paneer, give this a try with another sturdy non-melty cheese like Halloumi or queso fresco. Or think of it as a simple sauce you can serve over any protein, like a crispy-skinned salmon fillet, seared shell-on shrimp, sliced feta, or even just a bed of salted yogurt. We strongly recommend buying whole coriander, cumin, and mustard seeds. Not only is their flavor fresher, but they also offer pops of texture throughout the sauce. If you need to substitute ground spices, use ¾ tsp. each (and skip the black mustard, which is hard to
Hide All Images
First, prep your ingredients. Slice 8 oz. paneer into generous ¼”-thick planks and pat dry; set aside.
Trim roots from 6 scallions and discard. Thinly slice on a deep diagonal and place in a medium bowl. Scrub and thinly slice a 1″ piece ginger. Stack ginger slices and slice crosswise to make strips the size of matchsticks; add to bowl with scallions. Peel and thinly slice 2 garlic cloves; add to bowl.
Using a mortar and pestle or the side of your chef’s knife, coarsely crush 1 tsp. coriander seeds and add to vegetables. Mix in 1 tsp. cumin seeds, ½ tsp. black mustard seeds, ½ tsp. Kashmiri chile powder or ¼ tsp. cayenne powder, and ¼ tsp. ground turmeric; set aside.
Using a paring knife
Using a paring knife or your fingers and working one at a time, snap off tips from stem ends of 4 oz. sugar snap peas (about 1 cup) and pull to remove strings. Repeat process on the other end. Cut any larger sugar snap peas in half on a diagonal; set aside.
Now, bring it all together
Now, bring it all together. Heat 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high until shimmering. Arrange reserved paneer in a single layer (just a heads-up that you are only browning one side) and cook until golden brown underneath, about 1 minute. (If paneer is sticking, just give cheese a little more time to brown. It will release from pan once it is sufficiently crisped.) Using a slotted fish spatula or spoon, transfer paneer to a plate, leaving as much oil behind in pan as possible. Arrange browned side up and season generously with kosher salt.
Set pan over medium heat and add remaining
Set pan over medium heat and add remaining 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil along with reserved scallions, ginger, garlic, and spices. Cook, stirring often, until scallions are wilted and mustard seeds begin to pop, about 2 minutes.
Add 12 oz. cherry tomatoes (about 2 cups), reserved snap peas, and 1 cup water. Increase heat to medium-high, season with salt, and bring to a simmer. Gently smash each tomato open with fish spatula or spoon (gentle is key; you just want to break them open a little) and simmer until tomato juices thicken slightly, about 3 minutes (it should still be pretty brothy and light).
Basically MattarPaneer 03
Taste sauce and add more salt if needed. If your tomatoes aren’t super sweet, you may need to add a pinch of sugar at this point to balance their acidity. Add paneer back to pan and simmer until warmed through.
Basically MattarPaneer 04
Remove from heat and mix in ½ cup (lightly packed) mint leaves. Serve with cooked rice.
Basically MattarPaneer 05
Photo and Food Styling by Sohla El-Waylly