Matar “Paneer” with Tofu Makes an Easy Vegan Weeknight Meal
Indian cuisine has many delicious vegetarian dishes. Matar Paneer is a popular North Indian dish made with paneer (a cubed, semi-soft cheese) and green peas nestled in a silky, flavorful tomato-based sauce.
The recipe, despite its popularity, is made in numerous ways, and each restaurant and family has their preferred variation. I decided to replace the paneer with extra-firm tofu for an easy vegan weeknight meal. Serve this dish with basmati or jasmine rice and a few pieces of warm naan. I encourage you to get creative with your version!
Tofu may seem intimidating if you’ve never cooked with it before. Follow these helpful tips and tricks to master this healthy and versatile ingredient.
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 35 min
Total Time: 45 min
- 1 block (14 oz) of extra-firm tofu
- 2 Tbsp of oil, divided
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 inch of garlic, grated
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- 1 cup of yellow onions, diced
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 12 cashews
- ½ tsp salt
- 3-4 Tbsp water
- Tofu Marinade:
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper, or less to taste
- 1 tsp garam masala
- ½ tsp coriander powder
- 1 cup of frozen green peas
- 1 cup of vegetable broth or water
- 1 green chili, seeds removed and sliced (optional)
- ¼ tsp salt, or more to taste
- 3-4 Tbsp unsweetened coconut milk
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro, for garnish
- Drain tofu, place on a cutting board, and slice the block in half lengthwise so you have two pieces about 1” thick. Wrap tofu in a clean towel or absorbent cloth, and then place another cutting board on top, sandwiching the wrapped tofu between the cutting boards. Place a heavy pot (like a cast iron one) on top of the cutting board, and let rest for 10 minutes. This allows the tofu to release any extra water, so that it can later soak up a marinade or sauce.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add minced garlic, ginger, and cardamom and saute until fragrant. Add onion and saute until onions are translucent and start to turn brown. Add tomato paste and ½ teaspoon of salt. Add cashews and continue cooking until the cashews soften. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Transfer to a blender and process until smooth, adding 3-4 tablespoons of water as needed. Return the pot to the stove to be used again in step 4.
- While onion mixture is cooling, combine tofu marinade ingredients. Unwrap the pressed tofu and place it back on the cutting board. Brush the tofu marinade on all sides of the tofu and allow to rest for another 10-15 minutes to marinate.
- Using the same pan you made the onion mixture in, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat and add cinnamon, bay leaf, turmeric, cayenne, garam masala, and coriander, allowing the spices to profume. Pour the onion mixture back into the pan, stirring frequently to ensure the mixture doesn’t burn. Add peas, vegetable broth, and green chili, and stir until well combined. Continue cooking on a medium heat until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes longer.
- While the sauce is thickening, heat a medium fry pan with a few drops of oil, and spread it around the pan. Add the tofu blocks to the pan and saute for 3-5 minutes on each side, until the tofu is brown. Remove to a cutting board and cut into 1” cubes, and then add to the sauce pot. Add coconut milk and stir to combine. Salt and pepper to taste. When ready to serve, garnish with chopped cilantro. Best served with basmati rice and a few pieces of warm naan.
This recipe is from of Home Chef and OPL Community member Kristina Shane.
Eating more fruits and vegetables is good for you and the planet. Find more delicious OPL-recommended plant-rich recipes here.