Paneer and Pea Curry Smothered in a Cashew Tomato Gravy

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paneer curry

Since I started cooking Indian food some 20 years ago, shortly after becoming a vegetarian, paneer cheese curries were one of my most delightful discoveries. Whenever I acquired a new cookbook or when I browse through talented bloggers offerings, paneer dishes usually ended up bookmarked for future reference. One reason that I am not a vegan might very well be luscious chunks of paneer cheese transformed into a spicy curry. I just can't see myself giving that up, nor other treasured cheeses for that matter. Eggs I could do without, but not paneer, though it only appears on the menu every month or so.

My latest experiment, that was met with much praise from my diners, was this paneer and green pea curry simmered in a fresh and lightly spiced cashew and tomato gravy. Rich, yes, especially if you fry your paneer in ghee or butter, but easy to digest and truly fit for royalty, although it is really easy to prepare. As I often say, simplicity often results in the most gourmet and satisfying dishes that will grace your table. I dare say it is as good as my classic mattar paneer — maybe even better.

paneer coconut curry

Paneer and Pea Curry Smothered in a Cashew Tomato GravyPaneer and Pea Curry Smothered in a Cashew Tomato Gravy
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on July 15, 2013

Lightly fried pieces of tender paneer cheese and plump sweet peas simmered in a thick, rich and spicy cashew and tomato gravy — a colorful and delicious centerpiece for any north Indian meal

Preparation: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 40 to 45 minutes

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  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut, fresh, dried or frozen
  • 1 1/2-inch piece cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 4 green cardamon pods
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 to 3 red or green chilies, seeded and chopped
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups paneer cheese
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons ghee, butter, or oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or finely minced
  • generous 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon amchoor (dried mango) powder (optional)
  • pinch of asafetida (optional)
  • 1 plum tomato, finely chopped
  • handful of dried curry leaves, crumbled
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • a few handfuls of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups green peas, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 to 1 cup water, as needed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (optional)
  • Begin by making the paste. Soak the cashews in hot water for 20 minutes, then drain and combine with coconut, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves, cumin seeds and chilies in a food processor. Process until smooth, adding water as needed to make a smooth but fairly thick paste.

  • Cut the paneer cheese into 1-inch strips, squares or triangles about 1/4-inch thick, or chop into bite-size cubes.

  • Heat a few tablespoons of ghee, butter or oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the paneer pieces to the pan and fry, flipping or turning every few minutes, until lightly golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

  • In a large saucepan, heat another tablespoon of the ghee, butter or oil over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and stir for a 2 to 3 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to stir for another 2 to 3 minutes. Now toss in the turmeric and chili powder as well as the amchoor powder and asafetida if using, stir for 1 minute, and then add the paste, tomato and curry leaves. Simmer for another few minutes, stirring often.

  • Stir in the coconut milk and cilantro and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, until thickened, stirring often.

  • Add the prepared paneer and peas to the pan. Pour in 1/2 cup to 1 cup water to achieve your desired consistency. Simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the salt near the end of the cooking time, along with the garam masala if using. Taste for seasoning and serve hot with rotis and/or a bed of hot buttered basamati rice.

Makes 6 servings

paneer cheese pea curry

More paneer goodness from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Mung Beans with Paneer Cheese
Paneer Cubes with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Butter Paneer Masala

On the top of the reading stack: 1,000 Indian Recipes (Small Print) by Neelam Batra

Audio Accompaniment: the washing machine


anthony stemke said...

This is an absolutely delightful, delicious dish, going to make it soon; although I may use tofu for paneer and substitute bay leaves for non-available curry leaves.
Thanks for posting this recipe.

Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche said...

Paneer is one of my absolute favourites :) love the look of this!

Gujarati Zaika said...

Delicious curry...

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I must admit that if given a choice at an Indian restaurant I always choose a paneer dish Lisa. It is easy to make, although makes a very small quantity, but I have seen it at some grocery stores.

Anonymous said...

Looks delicious, I plan on making this tonight with tofu! Have you ever considered subbing tofu for the paneer? May be worth a try for a vegan option! Who knows, you might just like it :)

Lisa Turner said...

I prefer the texture and flavor of paneer, but tofu would likely work. Let me know how it works out. And thanks for stopping by my kitchen.