Delhi winters make it to the news every year – we have already been through the coldest day in the last 44 years and not sure how many more records are going to break. The chill factors keeps on getting worse by the day and it is a pain to get out of the quilt and perform mundane day to day tasks. Imagine the torture involved in reporting to work in mornings and going back home in windy evenings. Even if there is a ray of sunlight penetrating through the dense fog during the afternoon – I am not aware of it. One blessing that makes me bicker less about the winters is the availability of vegetables- it’s a total wow! when you reach the vegetable market – and I feel like jumping right into the heap(s) of fresh green peas, like Uncle Scrooge in Duck Tales. The cost of vegetables keep going down with the temperature and I wish I could hoard them for the entire year! Since I cannot do that , I at least make sure we consume as much as green peas as we can during this time and most of my cooking revolves around matar and methi. One of the favorites is matar paneer – pretty uncomplicated, yet yummy. I make it pretty mild – and let the sweetness of green peas and creaminess of paneer prevail.
Paneer – cubed, 1 cup
Peas/ Matar – shelled, 1.5 cups
Tomatoes – 3 small or 2 big
Ginger – 1 inch piece, peeled
Cream – 0.5 cup or milk – 1 cup
Kasoori methi – 1tsp (optional)
Jeera – 0.5 tsp
Haldi – 0.5 tsp
Red Chili Powder – 1 tsp
Salt as per taste
Sugar – 2 pinches (optional)
Garam masala/ Kitchen King Masala/ Chole Masala – 1 tsp
Oil – 1 tbsp
1. Put the shelled peas in a bowl, fill it with water and keep it on a low flame on the gas. We want to boil the peas till they get tender. This takes 10-15 minutes on the gas stove.
2. On another burner, keep a thick bottomed wok/ kadhai on a low flame and heat oil.
3. In a blender, blend together the tomatoes and ginger to a paste.
4. Once the oil is hot, add the jeera and let it splutter for a few seconds. Add the haldi too.
5. Pour the tomato paste from the blender jar into the wok and let it cook. Remember to keep the flame low , else it will splash around and may hurt you.
6. As the tomatoes cook, they will start to reduce in volume in ooze out oil. Add the kasuri methi, salt, red chili powder and chole masala (if using) now.
7. Once the tomato paste looks all done – (nearly 20 minutes required here), add in the boiled peas and paneer cubes and fold them gently into the paste.
8. After two minutes ,add the cream or milk, mix it gently and add the pinch of sugar and garam masala (if using).
9. Let this entire thing simmer for 2 minutes and you are done.
10. Serve hot with rotis.