Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add the paneer and cook, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes or until evenly browned. Paneer tends to splatter in hot oil, so be careful. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Add remaining oil to the saucepan and reduce the heat to low. Add the cardamom pods and bay leaves and let sizzle gently for 20-25 seconds. Add the onion, increase the heat to medium, and cook, stirring frequently, for 4-5 minutes, until the onion is softened. Add the garlic and ginger paste and cook, stirring frequently, for an additional 3-4 minutes, until the onion is a pale golden color.
Add the coriander, turmeric, and chili powder and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes. Add the 2 tablespoons of warm water and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until the oil separates from the spice paste. Add the 2 cups of warm water and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 7-8 minutes. Add the paneer and peas and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the garam masala, cream, and fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.