Green Peas Curry
Green peas masala was a remarkable start to a day when we were travelling in Kerala, along time back. On a wet morning, my husband and I were in a bus after an overnight train trip. At the crack of dawn, light mingling with the darkness created a reddish hue and a veil of mist was still hanging in the air. Sitting in a speeding bus with the smell of petrol mixed with rain drops, I felt an uneasy, stomach churning sensation. Soon after the rain dwindled, I opened the window letting the rough wind in, which started slapping my face and roguishly tearing the loose hair from their roots. Slowly, the brighter shafts of sunlight erased the gloom with its silver torch. The ride became agreeable with some melodious songs floating from the stereo in the bus, adding a melancholic sweetness to the trip.
We passed through little villages and junctions, tiled houses on tree lined narrow roads, shops and markets, getting ready for the day’s business. The scenes outside kept changing like the display in a digital picture frame. It also eased that knot in my stomach, for I was going to accept a new job far away from home. I could watch a lot of people. People waiting at the bus stops, men at the tea shops leisurely sipping their beverages, people on their veranda reading newspaper, milk man, boys running around aimlessly, children waving, farmers on their bullock cart, women sweeping their front yards…and many more. Peeping into their lives for a split second provided a short pleasure.
Then there were rubber plantations, fruit trees loaded with bananas, coconuts, mangoes and jack fruits, howling trains, fleeting traffic, some domestic fowls inspecting the yards, alert little birds sitting on milestones, belching cattle and lazy dogs under sprawling trees. Visuals kept changing every minute to create a kaleidoscope of images.
The bus dropped us at a small town and we had almost 30 minutes wait time to board the next bus. So we went to the nearest country style, small family owned shop to grab a quick breakfast. We chose Porotta and green peas masala. I was sure, the food would be from the previous night but, when I went to wash my hands, I peeked into the small kitchen where the family was cooking. Steam issuing from the wood burning stove and a flurry of other activities so early in the morning announced that the preparation was fresh. I happily settled down for my breakfast. The colour and taste of the food was remarkable that it still remains green in my mind.
I had no clue how they made that green peas masala but I loved it. I tried to replicate it at home in my style with the same visual appeal but of course, not similar, for I did not have the slightest idea about the ingredients they used. After several cooking instances, the taste was modified according to the critiques and what I make now is this curry, obviously, totally different from the original. Although I passed that town many times, it is strange that I did not have another chance to taste the curry due to some odd reasons.
- 1 cup shelled or frozen green peas
- 1 medium sized onion
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 red tomato
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup coconut grated
- 1 bunch coriander/cilantro leaves
- 2 or 3 green chillies ( serrano pepper)
- Heat oil and crackle cumin seeds.
- Fry finely chopped onion until it becomes transparent.
- Grind fennel seeds, garlic, green chillies, grated coconut and coriander leaves to a paste.
- Add the ground green paste immediately into the pan before it changes colour, saute it and add some water.
- Wash green peas and add to the gravy.
- Cook the peas until soft and add salt.
- To retain the green colour, do not cover the pan with a lid.
- Chop the tomato lengthwise and add to the boiling curry and turn off the heat.
This is a mellow curry with an appealing green colour punctuated by red bits of tomatoes to make an attractive presence at the table. The peas I used was a little sweeter, so added extra chillies to give it some punch. Pair it with coconut rice or flat breads like naan, chappati or porotta.