Paneer Makhani With Matar Pulao And Cucumber Raita/Paneer Cheese In A Spiced Tomato Gravy With Pea Pilaf And Cucumber In Yogurt

Paneer Makhani With Matar Pulao And Cucumber Raita/Paneer Cheese In A Spiced Tomato Gravy With Pea Pilaf And Cucumber In Yogurt

I could well describe the 25th of January 1989 as one of the happiest days of my life. My sister and I got back from school to the wonderful news that we now had a baby brother. And with much excitement and cheer we went around sharing the news in the neighbourhood.

I came home from school each day, looking forward to seeing and holding my tiny baby brother. And as he grew, we only grew closer. There were times when I told him stories and played with him. A man of few words, even back then and not one to express his emotions easily, imagine my surprise and joy when my little 8 year old brother walked a long distance and crossed a busy road just to get me a birthday card with a hand written note.

And now my precious baby brother has blossomed into an incredibly mature, level headed, intelligent and philosophical young man. And there is also a role reversal of sorts. I seek his advice, well knowing that I will always get a practical and intelligent answer. I can also share my woes, pains and joys, discuss my aspirations, just like how I would with a dear friend. He not only listens but also understands!

When my brother came visiting last week, I spent a major part of my time in the kitchen for a day and a half,  cooking his favourites. Doing a project in a far flung god forsaken location means that he is deprived of good food. I froze hearing about the type and kind of food he has been eating and tried to give him my best for a day and a half! And needless to say it was a feast for us too. We revelled with south Indian breakfasts, Masala Dosa and Idli Chutney Sambar. I cooked up one of his favourites, a bubbling pot of hot and spicy Rasam on the day he arrived for dinner. One lunch was a typical havyaka meal that included Huli and Beetroot Sasive. Alas there was no time to cook up his other favourites, Chinese and Continental stuff as his first preference was for the foods he grew up with.

One of the meals that I cooked for him was this Paneer Makhani with Peas Pulao, served with Cucumber Raita. I have been wanting to share this recipe where the paneer cubes are folded into a lightly spiced yet amazingly flavourful tomato sauce resulting into a lip smacking dish. A recipe that is quite close to my heart. I have been waiting for the right occasion and the time for this had arrived. I served Paneer Makhani with a spiced Pea Pulao. The Pulao was easily one of the best that I have created in my kitchen. Filled with fresh herbs like mint and cilantro and dry spices it is the perfect combination for the paneer. When the paneer is mixed with this rice and eaten, you would experience one of the best and flavourful taste sensations. That said, both the paneer makhani and the matar pulao have great  individual character and capacity to stand alone. You could serve the paneer makhani with rotis or naan and the pulao with any other curry or just by itself. This was rounded off with a soothing raita. A meal that was so satiating that we relished it to the core!

If you are looking for a party recipe, a family get together or a menu for a sunday brunch, or have many mouths to feed for an occasion this will surely please and comfort  you and your loved ones.

As the time came to bid adieu, I packed him a bag of dates to snack and also my new favourite cake, another very special recipe that I will share with you soon on a very special occasion.

Paneer Makhani/ Paneer Cheese In A Spiced Tomato Gravy

Kasuri Methi or dried fenugreek leaves add taste and flavour to Indian dals and curries. Besides it is healthy too. If you don’t have it, you could leave it out, but do try and get hold of it for the lovely taste it adds here.


750 gm, 9 to 10 medium sized tomatoes, chopped
750 ml (2 1/2 cups) water
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 bay leaves
3 big cardamom (crushed)
3 tsp kasuri methi, dried fenugreek leaves
3 tbsp ghee
¾ tsp red chili powder
½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp brown sugar
½ cup/125 ml cream
1 tsp butter (optional)
2 tsp salt
500 gm (1 lb) paneer, cubed into 1” pieces


In a medium sized saucepan or wok, heat the ghee and add the tomatoes, water, ginger, bay leaves, kasuri methi and cardamom and cook till the tomatoes are pulpy. Allow to cool.

In a blender or food processor grind the tomatoes to a fine puree . Strain the puree using a soup strainer or a wire mesh.

Return the puree to the saucepan and add the red chili powder, sugar and salt and put it to cook over a medium flame. Once, it comes to a boil, reduce the heat and stir in the cream, butter if using and garam masala powder.

Put in the paneer pieces and serve after half an hour. This way the paneer soaks in the gravy and the spices resulting in a more flavourful dish.

Matar Pulao/Pea Pilaf

All the spices here are the usual ones used in Indian cooking except shahi jeera known as black cumin seeds which are darker and smaller in comparison to regular cumin seeds. I prefer using shahi jeera in certain pulaos and biriyanis. If you don’t have it on hand then replace it with regular cumin seeds.


500 gm (2 1/2 cups) basmati rice
300 gm (2 cups) frozen or freshly shelled peas
875 ml (3 1/2 cups) water
3 1/4  tsp salt or to taste

To be ground into a paste:

2 cups fresh mint leaves (pudina)
1/2 cup coriander (cilantro) leaves
2 green chilies
1 tbsp fresh ginger

For the seasoning:

4 tbsp oil
1 tsp caraway seeds (shahi jeera) or cumin seeds
1 tsp asafetida
1 bay leaf
2” piece cinnamon broken into bits
4 cardamom pods
6 cloves
6 to 8 peppercorns


Wash the rice atleast twice, cover with enough water and allow to soak for any time between half an hour to one hour.

In a blender or food processor, place all the ingredients for grinding and grind to a very fine paste using very little water,  about 2 to 3 tbsp water.

After the rice is soaked, remove all the water with the help of a strainer or colander and keep aside.

In a wok, heat the oil for seasoning over a medium flame and add in all the spices, one by one stirring all the while. Put in the ground paste, lower the heat a little and cook until the oil separates from the paste and the raw smell disappears, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the rice and the peas and mix gently so that you dont break the tender rice grains. Put in the water and the salt and transfer all the contents to an electric rice cooker and cook till done.

If you dont have an electric rice cooker, prepare the seasoning in a heavy bottomed big pan with lid or a cocotte and once you add the water, bring it to a boil, lower the flame, cover and cook till done, about 15 to 20 minutes.

After the rice is cooked, allow the steam to escape for 2 to 3 minutes and then gently fluff with a fork. This prevents the rice grains from sticking to each other.

Cucumber Raita (Cucumber in Yogurt)

Kala Namak or Black Salt adds a special flavour and taste so try not to replace it.


2 medium sized cucumbers, peeled and chopped fine
400 gm (1 1/2 cups) fresh thick yogurt
1 tsp cumin seed powder
1 tsp black salt (kala namak) or regular salt


In a bowl, put in the yogurt and mix with a spoon until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Serves 6 to 8

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34 thoughts on “Paneer Makhani With Matar Pulao And Cucumber Raita/Paneer Cheese In A Spiced Tomato Gravy With Pea Pilaf And Cucumber In Yogurt

  1. Paneer-Pulao-Raita is one of my favorite combos,though the flavor of each differs every time.I am sure your brother enjoyed the special spread!

  2. i cant forget ur contribution in bringing him up
    i was so happy when icame to know that he is going to be with u mainly for the bexcellent food u r going to seve
    looks deliscious

  3. Long time reader of your blog, first time commenter……! Love this paneer makhani recipe, I have been looking for one that's easy to make, and still flavorful, think i found it! Thanks.

  4. This is a very well written post, Anushruti. Your brother is a lucky person to have a sister like you, since I'm the same age as him, I sure wish I had a sibling who loved me as much! All the food looks amazing, I love paneer makhani, maybe it's time for me to learn how to make it using your recipe 🙂

  5. Hi Anushruti,
    A slight doubt on the 2.5 cups of water mentioned in the recipe. What would be the right time to add it into the gravy? Before puree-ing I presume. Kindly let me know if otherwise.
    Your website & sattvic recipes are awesome. I've followed quite a few of them so far and all were a grand success at home 🙂 Thanks!

  6. DJ: You are welcome. You are supposed to add the water with the tomatoes and spices when the tomatoes are cooking. Have made the required edits in the recipe. Thank you for your query.

  7. Made Paneer Makhni recently and it turned out great! Never thought it would be so easy and tasty..Thank you Anushruti for the recipe!

  8. Shruti: At times, seemingly difficult looking things are so easy to make and you realize it only once its done! Thank you for reporting your experience with making it.

  9. Hi Anushruti,

    I am thinking of making this tonight but I am still unclear about when to add the water as the recipe does not seem to have the info. I saw in one of the comments that you are supposed to add it when the tomatoes are cooking. Is that initially when they are being cooked before pureeing? Also, when do i add the butter? Is it just for garnishing?


  10. Poornima: I thought the edit was made but there seems to be some mistake. You are supposed to add the water and cook it with the tomatoes. Stir in the butter towards the end if using. Hope you have a great dinner! Happy valentines day to you!

  11. Anushruti, thank you so much for the quick clarification and the wonderful recipe. It came out really well. As a matter of fact, most of the dishes from my Valentine's day dinner were from your site – jeera rice, paneer makhani and chocolate ganache cake. My husband loved everything and I can't begin to describe how happy you've made me :).

    I had tried of other recipes from your site with some changes to substitute for ingredients I did not have but they did not turn out so well. So this time, I kept my creative ideas aside, got all the ingredients you mentioned and followed instructions to the T (even brought a new digital scale and measured to the last gram). Needless to say, every single thing was delicious. So the moral of the story for me is to leave the recipe creation to experts like you and just do as I am told :). Thank u very much and I hope you had a lovely valentines day too.

  12. Poornima: Awesome! So happy to hear that your dinner was a grand success! Hope to hear from you about your other successes too. 🙂 Keep cooking!

  13. Hi Anushruti!! I tried this minus the ginger and it turned out just like the paneer makhani we enjoy at our favorite restaurant here.. Honestly, even better 😀
    Thanks very much for sharing such wonderful recipes 🙂 Please post a chole recipe as well!

  14. Hi Anushruti, I love your website. It's very easy to follow, and all the recipes of yours that I have tried have all been successes!

    I have a few questions about the sattvik diet. I grew up and am now married into a North Indian family who puts onions in everything! And my husband says onions help you fight against illnesses, boosts immunity etc.

    How do you and your family ensure you don't get the common cold and flu? How do you keep yourselves immune?

  15. bindi: Onions are not the only immune boosters. Many ingredients used in Indian cooking like ginger, turmeric, asafetida, pepper, etc are great immune boosters as well apart from lending their magical properties to make a dish taste good.

  16. Hey Anu,

    Awesome as always!
    Just one question…what basmati rice brand do you use?
    Its a treat to see the food pics.


  17. Can this pulav be made as a travel food? Like can I make it in the mrng say 10am and use it by 8pm?

  18. Hi I love your recipes and the way you present them! Look forward to your videos every week. It's a wholesome treat by itself.
    Had a question – do you have a recipe for garam masala that we could use for all North Indian dishes? I love everything homemade and you're the best source for any perfect recipe Please share your garam masala recipe soon! Thanks very much!

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