Fenugreek (Methi) Mattar Paneer

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Fenugreek (Methi) Mattar Paneer

One of my earliest introductions to Indian cuisine was mattar paneer. The essential components are lightly pan-fried cubes of luscious paneer cheese and plump green peas gently simmered in a elegantly spiced tomato-based gravy. The spicing, consistency of the sauce, and texture of the paneer vary greatly however, depending on the cook running the kitchen — obviously this can be a source of considerable culinary inspiration if you judge by the popularity of this classic dish that originates from Northern India and now a mainstay on menus all across the globe.

This version has a thicker sauce than an ordinary mattar paneer, flavored with a generous amount of fenugreek or methi leaves. This is my second mattar paneer flavored with these uniquely bitter but tangy leaves. They're easily available at any Indian and most Asian grocers, but you can substitute spinach if needed with an added pinch of fenugreek powder or seeds.

Methi Mattar PaneerFenugreek (Methi) Mattar Paneer
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on September 30, 2012

Thick, creamy, spicy and fragrant curried peas and paneer cheese flavored with fenugreek leaves

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  • 14 oz (400 g) paneer cheese
  • 3 tablespoons olive or sesame oil
  • 2/3 cup dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, chopped (1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 2 to 4 fresh green or red chilies, seeded and chopped
  • 2 to 4 dried whole red chilies
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 teaspoon water
  • 2 tablespoons ghee, butter or oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon nigella (kalonji) seeds (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon amchoor powder (optional)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafetida
  • 2 tomatoes, partially seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
  • small handful dried fenugreek leaves
  • fresh cream or plain yogurt for garnish
  • Cut the paneer cheese into 3/4-inch to 1-inch cubes. Heat the olive or sesame oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. When hot, add the paneer cubes to the pan and cook, turning often, until browned on all sides. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain the oil.

  • Meanwhile, soak the fenugreek leaves in hot water for 15 to 20 minutes. While this is soaking, combine the onion, garlic, ginger, fresh and dried chilies, cashews and 1/2 teaspoon of water in a food processor or blender and process until you have a smooth paste, adding more water if needed.

  • Using the same pan used to cook the paneer, heat the ghee, butter or oil over medium heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and nigella seeds if using, and stir for 30 to 60 seconds or until the mustard seeds begin to splutter and pop. Immediately add the prepared paste and cook for 5 minutes.

  • Toss in the ground spices and asafetida, stir a few times, then add the tomato, fried paneer cubes, peas and salt. Drain the soaked fenugreek leaves, squeezing as much liquid as you can from the leaves and reserving the soaking liquid. Stir the fenugreek leaves into the pan and bring the pan to a boil. Add some of the reserved fenugreek soaking water to the pan to thin the sauce to your desired consistency. Turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

  • Serve hot or warm, garnished with a few sprinkles of dried fenugreek leaves and a swirl of quickly whisked cream or yogurt.

Makes 4 to 6 servings
Fenugreek (Methi) Mattar Paneer

More paneer dishes you are sure to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Massaman Curry with Paneer Cheese
Mattar Paneer with Fresh Mint
Mung Beans with Paneer Cheese


Ian Scott said...

Ahhh... so much good food! My problem with your website, and my own other recipe discoveries, is that I want to try everything all at once!!

I am going to try making my own paneer cheese shortly.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I could use a big plate of this right now Lisa.

Lisa Turner said...

I want to try everything at once too Ian. Nothing like food to stimulate the senses. And homemade paneer would really kick this dish up an extra notch or two.

Venera@veggykitchen said...

Thanks for another nice recipe Lisa!
I like Paneer cheese ( I spell it "Panir" on my blog - not sure which way is right).
If anyone is interested in how to make their own Paneer cheese - here is the instructions how to do it

Anonymous said...

What would be the best substitute for the raw cashews? Would it be milk or coconut milk? I am allergic to tree nuts (incl cashews). Thanks!
An avid reader of your blog in upstate NY

Lisa Turner said...

Thanks for following my blog. I hope you are enjoying the offerings. For this recipe, I think coconut milk would work quite well, though you may want to use a little less water in the paste step as you won't be including cashews. You can always make adjustments to the liquid content as you work with the dish. Hope you enjoy it.