Recipe 3 of my 100 Healthy Recipes Challenge. Seasonal green peas make up this delicious Matar ka Nimona, a classic curry from Eastern Uttar Pradesh. The aromatic dal like dish is a regular part of a winter meal in Awadhi cuisine.
Married into a family from Eastern UP though settled in Madras, I would listen with my foodie antenna at alert, as my husband started a monologue every winter. He would describe childhood days of enjoying luscious fresh peas straight from the plant, in their native village at Basti, Gorakhpur. I have tasted the peas straight from the plants too, in the kitchen garden my mother had at Kharagpur. However, the magical sight of acre upon acre of pea plants stretching to the horizon, is something I have not experienced.
In Chennai, it is a common sight, to see large carts heaped with fresh peas and with red ‘Delhi’ carrots every December. It signals the start of a month or two of making matar ki tehari, matar ka nimona, matar paneer, aloo matar, and everything green. This year at Bangalore, the peas have been a long time surfacing in the shops in large volumes. I do hope they stay available for a while.
Green peas are native to Western Asia and North Africa. Their cultivation has been known for more than 10,000 years. In India, the cultivation of the pea is thought to have originated in north west India, in the sub Himalayan plains. However it is now grown as a commercial crop in various parts of the country, wherever the weather is cool enough to suit their growth.
Making Matar ka Nimona:
Nimona is easy to make. Shell the fresh green peas from the pod. Puree the peas with very little water. Cooked the peas puree with spices and in an onion tomato gravy. In days gone by, the peas would be ground on flat grinding stone, with bare minimum water, and slow cooked.
Nowadays the pressure cooker is often used. However it is my perception that the matar ka nimona has a fresher earthy taste and a greener tinge to it, when cooked in a pan. The pressure cooked nimona though it tastes good, changes to a yellowish brown colour and is sometimes overcooked.
For the matar ka nimona to get its authentic flavour, stir the masala (spices, onion, turmeric etc) really well before you add the peas.
The peas should also be stirred briskly for 5 minutes, before adding water for it to cook.
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