Alu Matar: Peas-Tomato-Potato Gravy

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I have fond memories of this recipe. Now available all year round, green peas were once rather seasonal in India during my childhood. So the advent of winter would mean that Aai would prepare alu matar, or what we called as mataar chi rassa bhaji. Probably of north-Indian origin, this is a household version, which is lighter and vegan. It does not use ghee or dairy cream and instead relies on the slow simmering of starchy potatoes in the tomato-onion gravy for its richness.

Since, it goes well both with rice and chapati bread, it would often star in the menu on special occasions, especially the ones which required a vegetarian feast. Those big chunks of potato and green peas in tangy gravy would be as decadent and delicious as any meat curry to me.

ALU MATAR: PEAS-TOMATO-POTATO GRAVY

Ingredients:

2-3 cups of fresh green peas
2 tomatoes
4 small or 2 big potatoes
1 medium sized onion
1-2 tbspoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves
2 small green chillies
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon crushed fenugreek seeds
1-2 teaspoon coriander powder
1 tbspoon curry powder
A pinch or two of garam masala
Salt to taste
2-3 cups of water
1-2 teaspoon of sumac (optional; my own touch to the original recipe for an additional tang)

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a skillet. Fry crushed fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, thinly chopped garlic and chillies over it.
  2. Add turmeric powder and chopped onion over it.
  3. Once onion turn translucent, add potato chunks, salt, and curry powder over it. Mix properly to coat the potatoes in onion and spices. Cover and let the potatoes soften in the steam.
  4. Meanwhile, make a puree of tomatoes and add it to the skillet, with some more water. Let everything simmer slowly till the tomato-onion gravy thickens like a homogeneous sauce and potatoes cook completely.
  5. After potatoes are done, add the green peas. Sprinkle garam masala and sumac powder, at this stage. Cover and let cook further till peas are cooked.
  6. Adjust and water and salt to your liking at this stage. If you add water, let everything come to boil again, and then take off the heat.

Today, I enjoyed it with brown rice, but as noted earlier it would be perfect with any bread/ flatbread as well. I even remember sneaking its leftover out of fridge, and having it as chunky soup in a bowl to satisfy my late afternoon cravings… So that’s another way to have it 🙂

Veggie Fajita Quinoa Bowl

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Sunday evening. It is a cusp time when you  want to indulge into the ‘weekend’, but not so much that it would affect your Monday morning spirit. After a busy morning with some wholesale-price grocery shopping, we decided to while away our Sunday evening in watching old Bollywood movies. In between, I quickly fixed this dinner, which turned out to be as full of colors and flavors as the stories we were watching:

VEGGIE-FAJITA QUINOA BOWL

Serves two

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa
1 avocado (optional, but as usual it makes everything better!)
3 cup of fajita mix  of onion, capsicum, and bell peppers (I used cut and frozen)
3 cups of mixed soup vegetables such as peas, corn, green beans, lima beans, celery etc (I used cut and frozen)
1 teaspoon of red chili flakes
4-5 cloves of garlic
1-2 cups of vegetable stock
Olive oil to stir fry
salt to taste

Method:

  1. Cook the quinoa as per the directions on the packet. Keep aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat olive oil and stir fry fajita veggies on high heat. Chop a clove or two of garlic and add to the stir fry. After seasoning with salt, the veggies will release lot of liquid. Let it evaporate in the skillet and let the veggies cook with your desired level of char. It adds nice flavor and texture to the bowl. Remove from the skillet and keep aside.
  3. In the same skillet, again heat a little olive oil, fry remaining garlic over it. Mix in the soup mix veggies, and season. After a stirring for about 2-3 minutes, add soup stock and let the veggies cook in it and in their own juices.
  4. Remove the skillet from heat, mix the warm quinoa with veggies.
  5. Prepare your bowl with vegetable quinoa at the base. Top it with a layer of fried fajita and the avocado slices.

And then dig in with your forks! It makes for a perfectly filling yet light supper. Instead of quinoa one may use rice or chickpeas. The essence of this simple preparation is in the combined tastes of different vegetables.