I love springtime. A fresh start and new beginnings for sure and it feels like the earth is coming alive. The green grass is pushing back the brown, and leaf buds are peeking through. This is the time Mother Nature takes over the landscape and fills us with optimism for the months coming up. This is also the season that I look forward to in the kitchen. I buy seasonal produce as much as possible but by the end of winter I give in to my cravings and those of the whining kids, and it’s strawberries from Mexico and pears from Argentina. In Canada there’s only so much that is fresh and local to cook with during the long winter months.
One of my favourite vegetables in the spring is green peas. Frozen peas are still great as they are flash frozen to preserve the flavour and colour. But cooking with fresh spring peas adds a deliciousness that is unmistakably spring especially when the dish is cooked with simplicity with just a hint of spices.
Indian Inspired Green Peas Recipe
A great accompaniment to peas has always been paneer. Soft and shaped cottage cheese that adds protein and dairy to a vegetarian meal. This cottage cheese is different from the tubs you get in the dairy aisles of supermarkets in North America. It’s made adding something sour (usually lemon juice or vinegar) to heated milk. This separates the milk solids from the whey, and you get paneer. You’ll find these blocks in possibly the cheese aisle but most likely the international (and refrigerated) section of your supermarket.
Indian Style Vegetarian Dish made using only 6 ingredients
Traditionally matar paneer – peas and paneer is made with the addition of garlic and tomatoes that result in the typical red colour and aroma. I like to use less ingredients in my cooking, and this dish is a great example of that simplicity.
This green peas recipe is quite versatile and can be served with basmati rice or roti. I pair it with Indian flat bread (chappati), yoghurt with a sprinkle of pepper along with my favourite salad – chopped jalapenos and onions.
You can blame my Indian soul – it demands some heat on the plate!
Tips from the Kitchen
- Adding spices boosts flavour, and the overall sense of well being that comes with eating wholesome food. A lot of my cooking is done with spices but the dishes aren’t necessarily “spicy.” This dish works well just a few spices, in particular cumin seeds and coriander powder, both add the smoky Indian flavour with none of the heat.
- Overcooking paneer makes it tough and leathery so go with medium heat and as soon as the texture turns bouncy, turn the heat off.
- Fresh spring peas do not need a lot of cooking and while this is a wholesome and quick weeknight dinner, this isn’t a dish you can forget on the stove.
- Fresh peas - two cups frozen will work, just thaw them along with a little water in the microwave
- Paneer - 400 gms chopped into even-sized pieces
- One medium onion - finely chopped
- Ginger - 2 tsp finely chopped
- Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
- Coriander seed powder - 1 tsp
- Fresh coriander - chopped for garnish
- Oil - 2 tsp for the pan
- Salt to taste
Heat the oil in a pan and turn it to medium.
Add the cumin seeds and let them sputter for a min.
Add the chopped onions. Stir and saute till onions turn translucent.
Add in the paneer and let it change colour and cook through. Stir gently, the paneer may break up into smaller pieces.
Salt the vegetable.
Add in the peas and the coriander powder and toss. Cover the pan and cook for a few mins.
Garnish with coriander once you've turned the heat off.
Serve with Indian chappati (flat roti), chopped red onions, yoghurt. Jalapenos are optional.