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Healthier Substitute for Heavy Cream?

Rick Feb 2, 2008 10:52 AM

I'm making Mattar Paneer this weekend and it calls for heavy cream. Is there anything I can substitute to make it healthier? I was thinking plain yogurt but I don't know?

  1. Candy Feb 5, 2008 02:00 PM

    Heavy Cream is not unhealthy and it is going to give your dish a mouthfeel that cannot be achieved with substitutions. It is sugar and flour that are going to kill you along with margerine, shortening and the like. That Land 'O Lakes fat free 1/2 &1/2 is pure chemicals.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Candy
      Miss Needle Feb 5, 2008 02:15 PM

      Personally, I don't think the dish really needs cream as the paneer is kind of rich. But I do agree with Candy that heavy cream is a lot better than that fake Land O Lakes stuff. Besides, the amount of heavy cream for this dish is pretty minimal. A little goes a long way. And I think yogurt will change how the dish is supposed to taste.

      1. re: Miss Needle
        paulj Feb 5, 2008 03:46 PM

        Can someone point to a recipe that uses cream, preferably one that has some claim to Indian authenticity (e.g not a gussied up Gourmet magazine one).

        I just looked at some online versions. The 1st 3 didn't have any dairy (beyond the paneer). Here's one that has 1/2c of yogurt
        Here's a version from M Jaffrey, without cream or yogurt
        and another yogurt version

        1. re: paulj
          Rick Feb 5, 2008 04:08 PM

          Here's the recipe I used paulj:

          1. re: Rick
            paulj Feb 5, 2008 04:30 PM

            The proportions on these recipes are all over the place. The recipezaar version is quite heavy on the paneer (20oz) and light on peas (1cup). The Jaffrey one has 3c of peas, and 2c of paner (plus some whey). Some have tomatoes, some not. Some a lot of spice, others just a few.

            But the Hindi name isn't very specific - it just means 'peas and cheese'.


            1. re: paulj
              Rick Feb 5, 2008 06:24 PM

              This was the first time I've made matar paneer. I personally am used to having it creamy in color when I've had it out so I prefer it that way. The recipe I used seemed to have too much garlic and I used a can of diced tomatoes. Next time I'd use crushed tomatoes and less garlic. I found it had enough peas for my liking. Overall I liked it, but it wasn't exactly what I was looking for.

              Which of the 4 recipes listed is the best/most authentic I have no idea.

      2. re: Candy
        seattledebs Feb 5, 2008 09:07 PM

        Candy, from what I'm reading, the research agrees with you, especially if the cream is from healthy, well-raised, grass-fed dairy. Viva heavy cream!

        I put heavy cream in my mutter paneer and it's wonderful. If you really want to reduce it, mix in a little while you're cooking, and a little yogurt when the dish is ready to serve. I'd rather have less of an ingredient I think is bad for me than a large amount of a substitution.

      3. jodymaryk Feb 4, 2008 06:55 PM

        My recipe did not call for cream either but I did add just a little after it was cooked (maybe 1/4 cup or less) before serving just to add a little creaminess. I hadn't thought of yogurt so next time will try the Greek yogurt I have. Thanks for the ideas.

        1. goodhealthgourmet Feb 2, 2008 10:57 PM

          you can definitely use yogurt or evaporated fat free milk. just be sure to stir it in toward the end of the cooking process, and reduce the heat to a low simmer.

          2 Replies
          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
            Rick Feb 3, 2008 09:30 AM

            Well my local store didn't have any ginger so I didn't make the dish this weekend. I'll report back when I do.

            Thanks all.

            1. re: Rick
              Rick Feb 4, 2008 04:01 PM

              I used the Vitamin D condensed milk in the dish and I was very pleased. I've never made it with the heavy cream instead, so I can't compare the two, but I'll be using the condensed milk again. Next time I'll try the 2% and see if I taste a noticeable difference.

          2. scubadoo97 Feb 2, 2008 01:04 PM

            just be careful because milk and yogurt can break were cream will not.

            1 Reply
            1. re: scubadoo97
              jsaimd Feb 2, 2008 10:35 PM

              You can stabillize yoghurt with cornstarch or egg whites - or so Claudia Roden says.

            2. paulj Feb 2, 2008 11:56 AM

              Sure use yogurt. And don't feel you have to use as much as the recipe calls for. Add enough to get the consistency you want. Yogurt is more traditional than heavy cream.

              The mattar paneer in the venerable Indian Cookery book by D Singh (Penguin) does not have any cream or yogurt. It just has the peas, paneer, a bit of butter, and spices. It is dry, not creamy. In fact it ends with 'Uncover, raise heat very high to dry off any remaining moisture.'

              1. The Dairy Queen Feb 2, 2008 11:01 AM

                I've been trying, with some success, to sub evaporated milk for heavy cream in lots of recipes lately, but, I don't know how it will work in the dish you're cooking. Also, I'm willing to sacrifice some taste and texture on occasion, to make my dishes healthier, but, and sometimes using evap milk turns out not to be much of a sacrifice, but, it really depends.


                2 Replies
                1. re: The Dairy Queen
                  Rick Feb 2, 2008 11:08 AM

                  I think I'll give the evaporated milk a try. I thought of the fat free half & half but that sounds like an oxymoron!

                  1. re: Rick
                    karykat Feb 2, 2008 11:32 AM

                    Let us know how it turns out.

                2. Vetter Feb 2, 2008 10:57 AM

                  I know a lot of people swear by fat free half & half. I'd probably use some plain greek yogurt, or just use much less cream. The paneer already makes it a dairy rich dish...

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