No-Fry Matar Paneer-can be vegan or vegetarian

A lower-fat version of the classic...

I was reading this brilliant post from Chandrani of Cuisine Delights about oven- baked samosas, and it struck me that many Indian favourites could be made healthier by reducing the fat content, not just the deep-fried ones. In this recipe the paneer is made with semi-skimmed milk, and there is no frying involved whatsoever; not even the spices. You can, of course, veganise this by subbing tofu for the paneer, which is what we most often do, so all the family can eat it. We didn't even notice these changes: there is no compromise on taste. The recipe fed 7 people, with brown rice and greens to accompany.  Thanks, Chandrani, for the inspiration! :)

Paneer made from 4 litres of semi-skimmed milk, cut into cubes or about 450g tofu
Some light olive oil/ ricebran oil (or any oil with a high smoke point) for baking
700g fresh tomatoes
200ml water/ whey from making the paneer
450g fresh or frozen peas
2tsps seasalt (or a little more if you wish)
1 tsp compound hing
2 tsps turmeric (haldi)
a piece of fresh ginger the size of the tip of your thumb, grated
a piece of fresh med- mild red chilli about the size of a fingertip (or more if you want it more spicy)
2 tabs cumin seeds
garam masala powder to taste -I actually forgot it when I cooked this, and it came out just fine without.
  • Arrange the paneer cubes on an oiled baking sheet and brush with a minimal amount of oil. Bake in an oven preheated to 200C until just browning at the edges.
  • Meanwhile, whizz up the tomatoes in you food processor or blender until liquid. (or chop into small pieces and cook down if you don't have a blender). Put them in a large saucepan, add the whey/ water, seasalt, hing, turmeric, ginger and chilli. 
  • Cook down until beginning to thicken, then add the peas.
  • Dry-roast the cumin seeds in a small. thick-bottomed pan until they release their aroma. (Do not overcook or they will taste scorched.) Stir in to the tomatoes and peas.
  • When the tomatoes and peas have thickened somewhat, stir in the paneer, and garam masala if using.
  • When the paneer is heated through, the matar paneer is ready.
Possible Tweak: Veganise this dish by using tofu instead of paneer.


  1. I agree most of the Indian curry's can be made healthier without compromising taste... I just find it so hard to not use onion and garlic... it's kind of a metal block that i'm working on, right now.

    I just turned vegan, started coz of health reasons but I'm sticking to it due to ethical reasons. I was wondering what changed your mind about veganism?

    1. Hi, and thanks for all your comments; it's always good to hear from you :) I am still vegan (apart from the odd slip- up :/), but the rest of my family are not, so I do cook non- vegan dishes regularly; not ideal, I know, but the best I can do at the moment! Actually, my husband has just decided to give up the few dairy products he does eat, so that's one small step further towards a vegan household.

    2. I have been cooking all the non- vegan food I used to cook for my family, just trying not to add anything new to the list. but every time I cook with dairy or eggs I go through a tug of war in my head. It's hard at times but I'm getting along...

      It's great that your husband is taking an effort towards vegan lifestyle. My husband is a hard core non vegetarian... I hope a few years down the line he has a change of heart. :)


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