Saturday, April 1, 2017

Green Peapods in Masala

Fresh peas are a winter delight. I have a very short period in which to eat my fill of this Indian style side. Peas in pods usually arrive in February/March, tender and bright green. The point is to cook them whole, pods and all. Once cooked, you eat them like you would a drumstick, holding one end in your mouth and then pulling it through your teeth. You are left with tender peas and the pulp from the pods. You might wonder why one might labor over this task. Assuredly,  it is delicious and addictive. 

As a child my task would be to hold each peapod up to the light. Indian peapods, grown organically, inevitably has a caterpillar or two nestled inside, munching on peas. Hence holding them up to the light would let you see the furry creature and discard that peapod. As a family we ate a huge amount of peas, so I was at it for a while!  Here in the US, I haven't felt the need to use X-ray vision, as the ones I've found look healthy and immensely edible! The recipe comes from my maternal grandmother. She was this gentle, frail, grey haired lovable woman who smiled at everyone and cooked amazing ethnic meals. I loved visiting her, as the promised peapods appeared in my thali, more often than not.

Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds fresh Green Peas
2 tablespoon Canola Oil 
A large pinch of Hing/Asefoetida 
1/2 teaspoon Mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon Turmeric powder 
1/2 teaspoon Chile powder
1 teaspoon Garam masala 
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt 
1 teaspoon Sugar

Look through the peapods carefully. Discard unsuitable pods, the ones with brown ends or broken ones. 

Wash them well.

Heat oil in saucepan.

When it shimmers add hing and mustard seeds. Let seeds splutter.

Dump peapods into pan.

Scatter turmeric, chile powder, sambar and garam masalas, salt and sugar over peas. Stir so peas are well coated.

Pour 1 cup of water into pan. The water should not cover the peapods. It's a question of eyeballing the amount.

Cover and let peapods cook for 10-12 minutes over a low to medium flame. Stir often as you do not want the water to dry up before peas cook. You might have to add more water.

Poke peapods with a knife tip to see if they are done. The tip should slip in easily. Try not to overcook the peas as they will fall apart if overdone.

Eat peapods as an accompaniment to an Indian meal. Or snack on them.

Munching on peapods in this fashion is an acquired taste and task. The family take a while to relish them. Now that they do, there's a lesser portion for me. I'm not complaining, just commenting.