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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Green Peas Gravy - A Rich Peas Preparation for Special Occasions

This is a recipe made using fresh green peas. I remember the good old days, when I used to spend, what seemed like hours, shelling peas with my mom. When the peas were tender and sweet, most of them used to end up going into my mouth rather than the bowl. And it always seemed unfair that the heap of shells used to be much larger than the small mound of peas in the bowl. Ah the good old days. I haven't done this for several years now because all I can find in the way of fresh peas in the local grocery stores in the US are snap peas or snow peas. These are so tender, that the peas are barely formed and they are meant to be eaten, shell and all. The frozen peas, which I use instead, are a great convenience and make it much easier to make any dish with peas. However, these are generally sweet and not best suited for spicy curry preparations. But one must make do with what one can find and try to make the best of it.
I am always on the look out for fresh peas, shelled or un-shelled and am hopefully that I will run across this sometime soon.

This is my Mom's recipe and a fantastic one. It needs time and preparation before you can start the cooking process, and the cooking process is lengthy as well, but the end result is finger licking delicious. If made with fresh peas and fresh coconut,  a lot of manual labor is involved, in terms of shelling peas and grating the coconut. That was probably the reason that my Mom made it as a treat and it has been my most favorite peas preparation to date. It tastes amazing with puris or hot chapatis and I too save it for celebratory occasions when I have time to make it right. The last time I made it was a few months ago when I had invited my friends over for lunch and it was a great hit. I hope you make it and it becomes one of your favorites too.

1.5 tbsp oil
1 large or 2 medium red onions, diced finely
1 cup fresh coconut, grated
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1-2 green chillies to taste
1/8 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp dhania jeera/ corriander cumin powder
1/8 tsp turmeric
2 cups frozen peas, washed
salt to taste
2 tbsp to 1/4 cup water to grind ingredients
1- 2 cups water for the gravy

Grind together the coconut, green chilli, cumin seeds and some salt. Add water to the mixture depending on your blender. Add as little as possible to get a smooth paste.
In a pan, heat oil and add the onion to it. Fry the onion till well cooked. Then add the coconut paste as well as ginger and garlic. Fry this mixture, stirring the ingredients often so they don't burn, till it is well browned. The ingredients need to be so well cooked and fried, that you can see the oil start to separate out.  Do this on low heat. If this is done on high heat, the ingredients at the base of the pan will start to burn while the ones at the top will remain under cooked. Then, add the turmeric powder, garam masala and dhania jeera powder and fry this for a couple of minutes. Finally, add the peas and stir to cover them well with the spices. Frozen peas don't need a lot of time to cook through. Finally, add enough water to form a semi thick gravy. Add salt to taste and let the gravy boil for a few minutes. Serve hot with puris or chapati.

Since you cook the recipe on low heat, it takes about 20-30 minutes for the ingredients to brown. Avoid the temptation of turning up the heat. Cook it on a day when you have the luxury to spend a lot of time to prepare this dish.
You can also use fresh peas instead of frozen peas. If you use fresh peas directly, then it will take longer for the peas to get cooked through as they boil. To speed you the process, you can also boil the peas in a separate pot while your onion mixture gets cooked. Add a tsp of salt to the water. Use enough water to cover the peas. Cook till soft. Then, put them in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain and keep aside. You can use these instead of the frozen peas.


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