I had always found it odd that some of the best cooks around me wouldn’t eat some of the foods they made. For instance, an aunt of mine makes some amazing Thai non-vegetarian food but she never tastes any of it. Why? Because she gave up non-vegetarian food decades ago for health reasons. Then there is a friend’s mother who cooks the best biryani I’ve eaten; she makes all of it without even tasting the biryani to adjust seasoning. She doesn’t eat rice and non-vegetarian food. So there!
I’d always wondered at the strangeness of the situation and how these women managed to cook without wanting to eat the food they make. Until it happened to me.
Having recently developed an intolerance towards lactose, I’ve realised I’m unable to manage more than 2-3 tablespoons of dairy-based products. And that includes some of my favourite foods like paneer (Indian cottage cheese), cheese, yoghurt, and milkshakes. Mercifully I can eat ice-cream without feeling unwell!
But all these aren’t reasons that could stop me from making a completely dairy-based dish – this dahi matar paneer (cottage cheese and green peas cooked in a yoghurt sauce) – especially since it was one that I learned from my aunt and all of us – I and my parents included – loved it! My aunt graciously shared the recipe with me and after a few adjustments, I managed to cook this healthy (mostly) and beautifully creamy vegetarian dish. Although the cottage cheese and green peas bag the prime spot in this dish, it’s the humble yoghurt that makes this curry rich without going over-the-top.
And even though I could manage only a few spoonfuls of this lush main dish, this dahi matar paneer would be my recommendation for a meal any time of the week!
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- 500 grams Paneer / Cottage cheese
- 100 grams Green peas
- 200 grams Yoghurt
- ½ tablespoon Oil
- 2 tablespoons Butter
- 1 teaspoon Black peppercorn
- 5 Green cardamoms
- 2 Bay leaves
- 2 medium Onions (finely chopped)
- 4 cloves Garlic (finely chopped)
- ½ tablespoon Ginger paste
- ½ tablespoon Cornflour
- 1 teaspoon Red chilli powder
- ¼ teaspoon Coriander powder
- ¼ teaspoon Cumin powder
- ¼ teaspoon Turmeric powder
- 2 teaspoons Sugar
Cut the paneer/cottage cheese into cubes and set aside. .
Take the yoghurt in a bowl; add the cornflour, red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric powder, sugar and salt (to tastto the yoghurt and whisk well till you have a smooth paste-like consistency.
In a pan/kadhai, heat the oil and 1 tablespoon butter.
Add the whole spices – black peppercorns, bay leaves, green cardamom and cook till the peppercorns splutter.
Add onion, garlic and ginger. Cook till the onions have softened and are golden brown.
Pour the yoghurt to this mixture, keeping the flame on lowest possible.
Add the green peas to this sauce.
Stirring constantly, bring the yoghurt sauce to a simmer. Add the cubed cottage cheese/paneer to this sauce and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Adjust seasoning.
Remove into a serving bowl and add a dollop of butter.
Serve hot with bread of choice.