This is a thick spicy curry often served during social functions with Poori (deep fried bread). Today I am not making it with poori, rather serving it with some plain white basmati rice and a wonderful cucumber salad with garlic and onion. Note that this is very nontraditional.
The curry uses dried white peas. Don’t confuse these with chickpeas or with fresh or dried green peas. White peas, and indeed this dish, are popular in North India. I find it a bit challenging to cook North Indian dishes as I love Sth Indian, particularly Tamil food, and am used to the fresher tastes with less spices. But periodically I venture out and construct a great North Indian dish like this one.
You can find other White Pea recipes here – sundals and sprouts.
Safed Matar | White Peas Curry
Source: Adapted from India Curry’s recipe
Cuisine: North Indian
Prep Time: 15 mins plus overnight for soaking the peas
Cooking Time: 1 or more hours for cooking the white peas plus 40 mins for the masala and curry
Serves: approx 6 – 8 depending how you use it
2 cups Dried white peas (Safed Matar), soaked overnight in 6 cups of water
3 Tblspns Dahi Yogurt
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1 tspn amchur (tangy dried mango powder)
3 Indian bay leaves (leave out if you do not have these)
masala (spice mix)
0.25 cup ghee
0.25 tspn cumin seeds
0.25 tspn fenugreek seeds
2 cups onions, minced finely
0.75 tspn salt
0.5 tspn cayenne pepper
10 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tblspn fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine or grated
cholay spice mix (use 3.5 Tblspn of this spice mix)
3 tspns cumin powder
2 tspn coriander powder
0.5 tspn fenugreek powder
0.5 tspn ginger powder
0.75 tspn cinnamon powder
0.75 tspn ground cloves
0.75 tspn ground black pepper
0.75 tspn ground cardamom
0.5 tspn ajwain
1 tspn ground fennel seed
green coriander leaves
chopped green chillies
thin slices of fresh lime
Cook the soaked white peas in plenty of water until soft. This can take an hour or more but watch them as the degree of “driedness” will impact the cooking time.
Make the cholay spice mix. Grind any spices that you have as whole spices to form the powders, and mix together.
Prepare the masala. Heat the ghee in a saute pan. Add the cumin seeds and saute until they start to brown. Then add the fenugreek and saute about one minute until they also begin to brown.
Next add the onions with the salt and cayenne. Saute these until the water evaporates and the onions are turning brown. Then add the garlic and ginger and mix with the onions, and cook for 2 minutes.
Now add the cholay spice mix that you prepared earlier, and saute for about 1 minute.
Then add the yoghurt, 1 Tblspn at a time until almost all of the moisture is gone. This forms a spice paste.
Add the tomatoes, amchur and Indian bay leaf (if using). Cook until the tomatoes begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
Now add the cooked white peas to this spice paste, with enough of the cooking water to form a nice gravy from the spice paste. The white peas will be just submerged in the gravy. Add additional water if the cooking water is not enough.
Bring back to a simmer and cook for another 10 – 15 minutes.
Turn off the heat and garnish with chopped cilantro, fresh chilli and wedges of fresh lime.
Much of this dish can be prepared beforehand – cooking the white peas, making the cholay spice mix and making the masala. The dish can be assembled and the final cooking completed at the meal time.
If you don’t have Indian Bay Leaves, add a brown cardamon pod to the masala (if you have it). Otherwise, leave it out altogether. Do not substitute laurel bay leaves.