There are a few dishes that have fascinated me. Some for their simplicity and some for their exotic preparation style. Mutter Paneer is the one which fills in the former but with a taste in the latter. Many times I have ordered this in the restaurants, in various restaurants and even in various countries and as far as I can remember, the best one has been in a Dhabba in Mount road, Chennai. I have tried to make this at home in Germany and invariable, during my initial trials, the taste has not been up to my expectation and this was until on 4th June when I first mastered this preparation and the second time on 11th June with I repeated the performance for a bigger group of friends.
My initial attempts were catastrophic due to some misunderstandings in concepts and my stubbornness in not referring to any preparation method. But this time, I studied various methods and the chef in me guided me towards the fantastic final result. First of all, there are a few pointers. Using fresh green peas (Mutter) is the best. Frozen green peas are good, but tinned peas is a strict NO! Secondly and importantly, using premixed garam masala powder spoils the taste. Thirdly, adding cream will spoil the taste. It will kill the dish. Finally, forget frying the paneer. Use is fresh, use it raw. There was one improvisation which I saw, adding mint leaves to the preparation. I wouldn't recommend this at all, for according to me, it defiles the sanctity of the dish. You lose the color and the taste of peas is lost admist the strong mint.
"I soaked the peas in boiling water and allowed them to get cooked as much as it could on its own. Did not pressure cook or put it further in the heat. Whilst cooking onions and tomatoes together, turmeric was the only additive apart from salt which is required. Some people add cashew nuts to this to get a thick gravy, but trust me, do not do this. After blending this finely in a blender, I poured this over sauteed whole spices (cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and bay leaves) and added to it cumin powder, coriander powder, chili powder and crushed dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi) and immediately added the peas after straining the water off it. The peas now got completely cooked in this gravy. The most important thing is to cook this on slow heat until the oil separates from the gravy and at this point I added the paneer, cut in cubes. Mixed it slowly and cooked it just for a few minutes."
Mutter paneer can be made extra hot (more chili), but dont make it extra spicy!