Sunday, September 19, 2010

Gajar Matar (Peas and Carrots, Northern India Style)

 I am consistently amazed at the way Seth's off-days become time warps that require an additional day of recovery. What did we do for the past week? I recall sleeping (a lot), watching some UFC, the first season of United States of Tara, daydreaming about GSP - oh yeah, and making what turned out to be the most uninteresting, muddled dish of peas and carrots my Indian cookbook had to offer.

Yep, peas and carrots. Though the recipe promised to be something more than just a spicy version of the Green Giant canned variety, sometimes you can't escape what you are. I partly blame myself for the general "blah" of this dish: I was making it as part of a dinner part menu. I made chicken lababdar, dahl, parathas, rice, and cake, but then freaked out because, true to my American roots, I had no vegetable dish to go with my meat and potatoes. I wanted something easy, light and refreshing - a contrast to the heavy sauce of lababdar and heartiness of dahl. What's lighter than peas and carrots? Unfortunately, my frozen peas suffered from frostbite and no amount of water I added was making them any softer.  Instead of accepting defeat (I couldn't get rid of the vegetable dish!), I served it to everyone and, like everyone, kept a neat little pile on my plate.

Man, this post sounds so negative, but I just cannot get into this dish. Maybe with fresh peas it would really sing, but the heat of the spices seemed to clash with the sweetness of the vegetables. The recipe calls for pomegranate seeds and I assume that refers to the dried version (because cooked pomegranate? Gross.) but I didn't have that so used some pomegranate molasses instead.  Next time (?) I will pay more attention to the quality of my ingredients, but does anyone else know how to make this taste, if not amazing, than at least agreeable?

Gajar Matar
The Food Of India

1 small onion, roughly chopped 
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1-inch piece of ginger, chopped
125ml (1/2c) oil (I used half this amount, because I couldn't stomach the thought of cooking with so much oil)
1tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2tsp ground turmeric
325g  (11 1/2oz) carrots, diced
1tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
250g (1 2/3c) peas
3tsp salt
1/4tsp sugar
1/4tsp chili powder
4tsp pomegranate seeds (optional)
1/2tsp garam masala

1. Put onion, garlic and ginger in a food processor and blend until finely chopped, or finely chop with a knife and mix together.
2. Heat oil in a deep frying pan, add onion mixture and stir over high hear for 2 minutes or until softened.
3. Reduce heat to medium and add cumin seeds and turmeric. When seeds are sizzling, add the carrot and stir for 2 minutes. 
4. Add ground cumin and coriander and fry for 2 minutes. 
5. Stir in the peas and then the salt, sugar and chili powder. Add 2 tablespoons water if using frozen peas, 4 tablespoons if using fresh.
6. Reduce heat to a simmer, add the pomegranate seeds (if using) and stir before partially covering the pan. Simmer for 15 minutes or until carrots and peas are tender.
7. Stir in garam masala.

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