Sunday, January 22, 2012

Peas Curry Hot

Like in many Indian kitchens, my pantry shelves are home to a colorful array of dried lentils and beans and peas. Some are more versatile than others. The container marked "dried yellow peas" (also called safed vatana) is often shoved to the back because the poor yellow pea seems to be a one hit wonder around here. I use it for that most adored street food dish- ragda patties- but this week I decided to broaden the yellow pea horizon a bit and look for another recipe to use them. 

Enter Shilpa of Aayi's Recipes with her wonderful sounding recipe for a Goan curry called tonak. I've eaten just such curries in Goa (in homes, not in restaurants) and the taste memory came flooding back. Like so many Konkani/Goan recipes, the ingredient list is short but the use of a thick paste of onions and coconut adds an abundance of flavor. This recipe is an undemanding one; everything I needed was already in the pantry. It is a good recipe for times when you are running low on fresh produce and need to cook from the larder. I used coconut oil to fry the onions for the curry which added another dimension of that beachy coastal flavor- so welcome in the dismal January gloom when there's freezing rain pelting your windows. 

Garam masala (literally, "warm spices") makes all the difference in this recipe. Over time, I have used all different kinds of garam masala, some that I made myself from different recipes, others that were store-bought. This particular batch is the "family blend" brought over by my parents. It was made by the lovely woman who has worked as a cook in my parents' home for decades. Her hands are sheer magic and this particular garam masala is the best I have ever tasted. If you find a blend of garam masala that you like, hang on to it! It makes the simplest food come alive. 

By the way, if these yellow peas are not available to you, I think this curry would be wonderful with fresh/frozen green peas, black eyed peas or brown lentils instead of the yellow peas.  

Yellow Peas Curry
(Adapted from this recipe from Aayi's Recipes)
2 cups dried yellow peas (safed vatana)
For curry paste:
2 tsp. oil
1 large onion, sliced
3/4 cup dried coconut flakes
For curry:
2 tsp. coconut oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 tsp. red chilli powder
2 tsp. tamarind paste
1 tsp. garam masala
Salt to taste

  1. Soak the yellow peas in water overnight. Rinse and pressure cook until tender. 
  2. While the peas cook, make the curry paste. In a pan, heat the oil. Fry the onion gently until well browned. Add the coconut and roast for a couple more minutes. Cool the mixture and grind it to a thick paste with a little water.
  3. Heat the coconut oil and fry the sliced onion. 
  4. Add the curry paste, red chilli powder, tamarind, garam masala and salt. 
  5. Add the cooked yellow peas and enough water to make a curry. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the balance of salt/sour/spice. 

We truly enjoyed the complex flavors of this curry, soaked up in hunks of crusty rolls. The next day, I enjoyed the leftover peas curry with steamed rice. A wedge of lemon, a drizzle of amber ghee (freshly made; I was making a fresh batch of ghee that day) and a microwave roasted papad completed this utterly satisfying meal (pictured above).

Did you do anything exciting this weekend? The highlight of my weekend was a trip to the St. Louis Art Museum to see Monet's waterlilies. I am no art aficionado but I know what looks good to my eyes and I could have stared at the Agapanthus triptych for hours. It turns out that Lila is not fond of impressionistic painters- she slept on V's shoulder right through our visit. I'm guessing she prefers expressionism.

Have a lovely week, all!

30 comments:

  1. Hi Nupur, Another way of eating the left over curry is adding sev, chopped onions, kothmir and lemon juice. Makes a wonderful misal :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh I so agree! Thanks for mentioning this variation.

      Delete
  2. Peas curry looks simple and delicious. How do you deal with the chilka (pea peels) that are let behind after boiling/ pressure cooking them??
    We had our first snow yesterday, so didn't do a thing this weekend.. verrrrrrry laazy weekend.. I think that's good in someways.
    Enjoy your work week Nupur.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pavani- I just stir the pea peels into the rest of the peas. One could also skim them off.

      Delete
  3. I rarely buy safed vatana.. mainly because I find it hard to finish off, not a real fan of ragda either- it does have a strong smell, but of late M kept asking for 'real' misal, one with safed vatana, and so I got me a packet.
    I will try this with the remaining peas.

    The exciting thing we did this weekend (as on most weekends) is eating out! Here in Dallas, there are TONS of Indian ( and every other type) restaurants and there is something new to try, specially since the weather is also co-operating, we are in the 70-76 deg. F during afternoons!LOL!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh really you think vatana has a strong smell? I don't think I've noticed. It is funny how we all have our preferences with these beans/lentils.
      We love eating out too :) What fun to discover new restaurants in a new city.

      Delete
  4. We love tonak at home here, I love it with pav, the authentic Goan way of having it ! I got my tonak masala from a cook in Goa and it lasted me a long time ! We actually did something interesting over the weekend, went to a place called Patan and saw an old, beautifully carved step well, which goes 7 levels below the ground, it was amazing !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The well sounds amazing- how nice to have a weekend getaway.

      Delete
  5. Super tempting peas curry..

    ReplyDelete
  6. SPOOKY!! I made ragda pattice last night (after maybe a couple of yrs or so..) and also get these peas only for that. I have some boiled peas left over and was wondering what to do with them. And this isnt the first time it has happened with me and your blog :)

    thanks for the idea!
    Archana

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great recipe. And I actually have a bag of yellow split peas lurking in my pantry. So now I know what I'm going to do with it. I've never made garam masala - although I've purchased (indifferent) versions of it many times. I really should work on a recipe. And I agree about the waterlilies paintings - just wonderful. I last saw all three of them together about 30 years ago - it's the best way to see them. Thanks for a great post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was the same way- tried many mediocre versions of garam masala. Now that I have tasted a good one I know what a difference it makes.

      Delete
  8. Hi Nupur! This dish looks like something I need to get in the slow cooker right away. I don't have yellow peas (would Global Foods happen to carry these?)--but would try the black-eyed peas you suggested. Hubby and I saw the Monet and we loved it! I thought the museum did a fabulous job with the display. Have a great day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Global Foods would be sure to have these yellow peas. The museum did a great job- I feel lucky being able to see these paintings in real life.

      Delete
  9. Ooh sounds yummy! I'll have to try it soon!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Lovely recipe. Cudnt agree with u more on the vatana. I keep some in my pantry as well and it shows up only when I make ragda patties and which is not often. Will try this soon.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Here's another version of tonnak @ http://ranchikud.wordpress.com/2007/10/19/chanyache-tonnak-goan-peas-curry/.
    My family however just prepares it by dry toasting the spices, the onions and coconut before grinding it to a fine paste.

    Enjoy!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I can't seem to find the safed vatana here in Delhi :( Need to tell someone in Mumbai to get it for me - I have been hankering for ragda pattice for quite sometime now and this would be another great curry to enjoy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really? I had no idea safed vatana was a regional thing!

      Delete
  13. Oooh, that museum trip sounds lovely. Perhaps Lila is a modernist? My son has a love affair with Jackson Pollock, especially when it comes to drippy food :)
    And when Lila is a bit older, she might like this: http://jacksonpollock.org/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Judging by the messes lately, I'd have to agree- the babe is a modernist :)

      Delete
  14. My safed vatana tends to get neglected too, and this tonak sounds like such a delicious use for it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And being a Goan dish I think you'll love it even more!

      Delete
  15. Vatana tondak is a regular in our Goan kitchen, and the garam masala I am (sparingly)using right now is the one my maushi made. I loved your post of tondak and can almost smell the aroma in the picture you have posted =)

    Cute update on Lila! I'm sure she was probably dreaming of "Goodnight Moon" perhaps =) I loved reading that book to A when he was little! Enjoy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been reading "Goodnight Moon" to Lila :) but usually first thing in the morning! Because in the evenings she is too sleepy to read.

      Delete
  16. This sounds delicious. I don't keep this in stock but will have to go and find some.
    Sounds like Lila and you are already exploring new things. She must be smiling now :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Mandira, Lila is smiling and it is the cutest thing.

      Delete
  17. Dear Nupur - I only read your post on cast iron cookware today and heartily agree with you that it is great to cook with - I have severl and they are really, really old - have been used for many ages and by many cultures in my country South Africa. A few years ago the became high fashion again - thanks to Potjiekos or Pot Food. Competitions are held regularly and along with the Sunday barbecue, food prepared in these pots outside over wood fires have become a way of life. After all, our pioneers on their treks to the north only had fires and these pots for cooking in.
    BTW - I still love your blog!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to say hello!