Mind the peas

by Sanjeev Kapoor

Yes, green peas are available in loads! So fresh, and so green and it is a busy time for Alyona as she places boxes of shelled peas in the freezer to be used all through the year! We do get frozen peas in the shops, no doubt, but there is this must do activity every year of freezing our own peas!

Who does not like peas? There are children who will make a face at the very mention of them. It is another story that some of us, including yours truly, can enjoy a simple sabzi of sautéed green peas with all the dry masalas. The only promise is that the green peas should be fresh and soft and sweet. 

Peas are a delight for the innovative cook. And if you would be more comfortable calling them matar so be it as matar has some fantastic partnerships with gajar, gobhi, aloo, paneer, methi, rice….you can have matar ki kachori or gujiya or samosa or potli or tikki….you can have matar parantha, matar shorba, keema matar…the list is something we can mutter all day long!

I remember some years ago, well to be precise many years ago, I had innovated a Tirangi Kheer for an Independence Day Photo Feature for a magazine. I made Shaam Savera, Tiranga Tandoori Paneer Kabab and then this Tirangi Kheer served in a stemmed glass. The bottom (green) was matar kheer, the middle (white) was regular rice kheer, and the top (saffron) was a nice creamy gajar kheer. I kept talking about the flavours of the foods and as we sat down to taste the fare, our guests from the magazine had no clue of what the kheer’s components were. The meal over, they complimented me on the excellent ‘pista ki kheer’. Well, I did reveal there and then that it was a matar kheer but this did give me an idea, and hence years later from that incident, my children enjoy “pista” kheer immensely!

Just like I find comfort in rajma chawal or kadhi chawal, I have a dear friend whose list of comfort food includes peas pulao with dahi. The ingredients for this pulao are limited: ghee, rice, onion, jeera, peas (lots) and salt. But the tasty nuances of this one dish meal are unlimited! I too enjoy it and it should be served straight off the stove.

Restaurant food boasts of a lot of pea-related recipes: methi matar malai, khoya matar, matar shorba, mushroom matar…and this is proof enough of the popularity of the peas. And when they are in season as they are now, I do encourage you to go ahead and have your fill. In case you need ideas I can again provide a list like matar aur mangodi kadhi, matar macaroni malai, soya keema matar! 

To fill up the snack plate I have this simple recipe here of Green Peas Coconut Tikki: Boil, cool, peel and mash 4 large sized potatoes. Add salt to taste and knead till smooth. Set aside. Boil 1 cup shelled green peas. When cool, mash them slightly. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan, add 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, a pinch of asafoetida, I inch chopped ginger, 3 chopped green chillies and boiled green peas and a little salt. Stir-fry for two to three minutes. Add a little lemon juice and spread on a plate to cool.

Add a few tablespoons of chopped coriander leaves and ½ cup of scraped coconut and mix.

Take a portion of mashed potatoes in dampened palms, make a dent in the center, fill it with coconut-peas mixture and close in the edges to enclose the stuffing. Press gently and roll the edges to smoothen the sides. Keep it in the refrigerator for five to seven minutes. Heat a little oil on a tawa and shallow fry the tikkis on low heat until they turn light brown or till they become crisp. Serve the tikkis hot with coriander and mint chutney. 

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.