Vegan Matar Paneer with Tofu

This vegan matar paneer (aka mattar paneer and mutter paneer) with tofu and green peas is rich, creamy and packed full of wonderful ingredients. I’ve used different techniques to extract as much flavour from the vegetables and spices used in this dish.

A vegan-friendly version of a mater paneer is not as accessible at Indian restaurants as you’d think. Many use ghee, cream and/or yoghurt, and of course paneer (cottage cheese).

The conventional approach is to have paneer in a dish with green peas in a mildly spiced tomato gravy. I set out to make a vegan version (also gluten-free) of matar paneer so you can still enjoy this flavour-packed dish!

Vegan Matar Paneer in Skillet

Using tofu in place of paneer

To make this dish vegan, it’s common to use tofu instead of the paneer, which is precisely what I’ve used in this recipe.

Paneer is cottage cheese with a mild taste (not cheesy), so it resembles the taste and texture of firm tofu. The main difference is that it’s milkier, which is to be expected from a dairy product.

I’d typically advise to lightly fry the tofu before adding to the curry, however, I found that the oil and crust can keep the sauce from soaking into the tofu in this recipe.

Paneer is also usually quite firm so I added the tofu at the end because you don’t want it to be too soft.

The tofu here, like paneer, does a fantastic job of soaking up the flavours of the gravy. At first, I was worried that it would taste too much like raw tofu, but it really works! No raw tofu taste here, phew…

It’s crucial that you use firm tofu for this recipe to achieve the right consistency and an organic one if possible.

Vegan Matar Paneer with Tofu Served in Bowls with naan

Peas are the hero of the show

I’ve already highlighted the importance of the tofu (paneer) for this recipe, but peas share just as much of the limelight. The small bursts of goodness are the perfect flavour and texture combination in this beautiful rich tomato sauce. 

In North India, where this dish originates from, they make it during the winter months when fresh peas are in season. So, if you have access to fresh peas, please feel free to use them in place of frozen.

We use frozen organic peas and they add a nice sweet flavour to this recipe.

Vegan Matar Paneer with Tofu close up

Vegan Matar Paneer served in bowl

Different ways to serve matar paneer

There are many ways to serve matar paneer. We often eat it with either basmati rice, or my vegan naan, which is one of our favourite recipes!

Other ways you can serve it is with roti, paratha (Indian stuffed bread), different types of pickled vegetables, potatoes, and chapati. 

If you want to keep this recipe gluten-free, serve it with any rice.

Vegan Matar Paneer with Tofu scooped up with naan

Tips when making this vegan matar paneer

Matar paneer is typically made using fresh tomatoes, and I definitely recommend keeping that tradition for extra flavour. However, if you don’t have access to fresh tomato, you can use canned tomatoes instead. 

I chose to use cashews in this recipe to add the creaminess that you’d get in a matar paneer. The addition of cream or yoghurt normally achieves this. I felt that cashews create a beautifully rich and creamy flavour without being overpowering. Frying them off at the beginning gives the masala (gravy sauce) a nuttier depth. 

If you don’t have cashews or are allergic to them, swap them out for coconut cream. Add the coconut cream towards the end when you’ve added water or stock to the gravy. 

Tofu matar paneer served in bowl with naan bread

Here are some more vegan curries to try!

  1. Creamy Red Lentil Curry (Vegan-Friendly)
  2. Vegan Dal Makhani (Black Lentil Dal)
  3. Vegan Palak Paneer with Sweet Potato
  4. Cauliflower Potato Curry with Coconut Milk

If you try this recipe, let me know! Would love for you to leave a comment and rating below. If you want to go that extra mile, tag us on Instagram or share your photo of the recipe on Pinterest

Vegan Matar Paneer with Tofu

Vegan Matar Paneer with Tofu

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

This vegan matar paneer features a rich and spiced-up tomato gravy with tofu and peas. Serve with rice or vegan naan, you won't regret it!

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp neutral oil (I used rice bran)
  • ⅓ cup (50g) raw cashews
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • ½ inch fresh ginger, grated or minced
  • 1 medium green chilli, chopped (deseeded if you like)
  • 3 medium (500g) tomatoes, diced
  • 1-1 ½ tsp good-quality salt
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ¾ tsp garam masala
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder or more for extra heat
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon powder
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 ¼ cup veg stock or water (keep in mind if using stock that you adjust the salt levels accordingly)
  • 250g firm tofu, cubed (any excess water pressed out using a paper towel)
  • 1 ¼ cup (160g) frozen peas
  • Fresh coriander for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a wok or large skillet on medium-high heat, add 2 tbsp of the oil and add the cashews.
  2. Once the cashews start to colour, add the onion and saute until it starts to caramelise. This will take a couple of minutes.
  3. Add in the garlic, ginger and green chilli and saute for a further couple of minutes until they start to soften and release their aroma.
  4. Add in the fresh tomatoes and salt to taste and cook for 4-5 minutes, then remove from stove.
  5. Carefully transfer to your blender (be careful, it will be hot!) and blend until nice and smooth. If you would prefer to wait for it to cool a little before blending the ingredients, do so. Alternatively use an immersion blender, you'll just have to take the gravy out of the skillet if using this method once done.
  6. Place the same skillet back on medium heat, wipe it out clean then add the other 2 tbsp of oil to the pan.
  7. Add in the cumin, garam masala, chilli, cinnamon and saute for 30 seconds to a minute to release all the aromas in the spices.
  8. Add in the tomato paste and stir well to combine.
  9. Pour in the tomato base from the blender and add the water/stock. Stir well and simmer for 15 minutes. It will spit a little as it thickens so be careful when stirring. If you'd like a thicker gravy, cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.
  10. Add in the tofu and peas and cook for 5 minutes.
  11. Remove from heat and garnish with coriander. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve with your choice of sides as recommended above. I like mine with basmati rice and naan.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 394Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 1596mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 6gSugar: 8gProtein: 19g

Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated automatically. The accuracy of this information is not guaranteed.

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Vegan Matar Paneer with Tofu close up with naan and coriander

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4 thoughts on “Vegan Matar Paneer with Tofu”

  1. This tastes so good!! It went down incredibly well with my carnivorous partner, who happily eats lots of vegan food but never touches tofu. He asked me to make it again sometime. Thank you so much for working out this vegan version. This is the first recipe of yours that I’ve made so I’m really looking forward to trying more :o)

  2. This recipe is amazing, it tastes exactly like paneer in an Indian restaurant! I stir fried the tofu before adding because I thought my family would like it more that way. I meant to throw in some raw spinach at the end, just for extra veggies, but then forgot… but I think that would have been really good.

    This is definitely my favorite recipe of yours so far. Thank you thank you!!!

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