Sana Thongba – Manipuri Paneer curry

Was I glad I could find a non-pork, non-momo dish to make from this north-eastern state. I found a simple rustic Panner curry that’s made in Manipur (original recipe here) and I pounced on it. I love it that it’s simple and uses minimal ingredients. Paneer is always popular at home and this Sana Thongba was well received too.

sana thongba,manipuri paneer curry

Hasini adores Paneer. I dare not keep fried paneer cubes un-supervised while making the curry. While I am busy at the stove, a pair of chubby little hands would sneak in and grab a handful of the paneer cubes and by the time I turn, the little imp would be dashing out. If she’s running out, it’s usually either paneer or sugar that she’s gobbled up. With Yuvi it is bovonto or Coke or jelly.

I served the Sana Thongba with Poori. It was perfect. It would be nice with rice too. There is no chilli powder and no tomatoes in this dish. The beautiful yellow of the curry is from the turmeric and milk in it. I wouldn’t change anything in it. You could adjust the heat by adding or reducing the green chillies though.

sana thongba,manipuri paneer curry

Manipur, one of the seven north-eastern states, lies on the eastern edge of India and shares borders with Burma. I read that many Manipuri homes have little kitchen gardens where they grow their own vegetables and fruits and small ponds where they rear their own fishes. What a rustic setting! It’s giving me ideas. Where are my gardening gloves (do you wear gloves while gardening?) and those pots and seeds? I know zero about gardening but a kitchen garden is really tempting. They also use a lot of fresh herbs and roots in their cooking that are specific to the region. Their staple diet includes rice, lots of green leafy vegetables and fishes. No wonder they all look so svelte.

Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 15 mins
Serves: 3-4


Paneer – 200 gm cut into cubes
Green Peas – ¾ cup
Onion – 1 chopped fine
Ginger-Garlic paste – 1 tsp
Green chillies – 5 chopped fine
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Milk – 1 cup
Water – ½ cup
Cumin seeds – ¾ tsp
Coriander leaves – a handful for garnishing
Salt to taste
Oil – 2 tsp + 2 tsp


1.      Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan. Add the cumin seeds and after a minute add the chopped onions and sauté till the onions turn golden around the edges.

2.      Add the ginger garlic paste and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the chopped green chillies, green peas and paneer cubes. Add turmeric powder and salt and mix well. Fry for a couple of minutes till the paneer cubes turn golden around the edges.

3.      Add ½ cup water, cover and simmer for 3-5 minutes or till the peas are cooked through.

4.      Add milk and cook on medium-low heat till the gravy thickens slightly – about 3-4 minutes. Switch off. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with poori, roti or rice.


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  1. Padmapriya Pugazhendhi says:

    I love paneer – I will never miss a chance to taste paneer whenever possible. This curry seems simple yet delicious. The color of the curry is amazing – tat yellow color curry with soft paneer pieces and the bright green peas looks heavenly. I can have it with rotis any time of the day – even for all three meals 🙂

  2. Dibyalaxmi Devi Shougaijam says:

    correction. Momo isnt a staple food of any states in Northeast. its a snack to us, just like it is to other states outside northeast. and this dish belongs to the Meitei community whose basic food is vegetables and fish.

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