I did it again! I killed the second basil plant I brought home :( I had really high hopes for the second one, and it looked like it was thriving too. But I was away for the 4-day long weekend and when I got back, no amount of coaxing it back to life helped. I have now officially given up on my patio garden for this year. I am going to stick to the more robust herbs and see how far they go. The mint, thyme and rosemary don't seem to miss me at all, they went about doing their business - sprouting new leaves and growing longer and bushier. Good for them! So the basil pesto and pizza ideas are now on an indefinite hold. Just like my cable subscription. The apartment community that I live in changed their rules, no more permanent mounting of dishes on the deck. They gave us a 3 week time period to find an alternative. I had 3 different technicians come to take a look at it and none had a solution. The dish is now lying on the deck facing nowhere in particular and the TV is reduced to a black box. I am used to having the TV playing in the background from the moment I step into the house in the evening. I need the noise pollution to keep me sane, the silence freaks me out completely :( Do any of you share the feeling ?
Okay, getting back to cooking. I've been buying fresh English peas and fava beans and ramps and garlic greens and asparagus whenever I can spot them in the grocery store aisle. Thanks to the blog hopping I do, I now look for these so-far unfamiliar goods, nestled between the usual suspects in the store. The berries haven't yet arrived in full splendor, but that does not stop me from buying the strawberries. I can slowly, yet steadily taste the sweetness and the burst of flavor increasing in each batch that I buy. When at home in India, my father would buy a lot of peas in the pod from the market when in season. Once
I made a quick, microwave jeera rice to go along with the curry. The bowl that you see is the one I cooked the rice in, just a cup of it. I melted a thin slice of butter in the microwave, 30secs. Add a tsp of cumin seeds and heated it for another 30secs until it sizzles. I then added the washed rice and required amount of water and microwaved it for 8 mins, and then two more minutes with the bowl covered. Let it cool, fluff it up with a spoon and jeera rice is done :)Matar Paneer - Indian cottage cheese with PeasIngredients:
prepping the paneer : If using fresh paneer, dice it into cubes, and broil to get a golden crust OR cut long slabs and pan fry it in a non-stick pan. Drain and cut into cubes. OR if using frozen cubes, soak them in warm water for 5-10 mins and broil for 2-3mins if you desire.
- 2 cups - vine ripe Tomatoes, diced
- 3/4 cup - Onions, minced ( I am currently in the 'I-love-vidalia-onions' phase :D)
- 3/4 cup - Green peas, shelled
- 3/4 cup - Paneer cubes, thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp - Oil
- 1 tsp - Cumin seeds/Jeera
- 2 nos - small Bay leaves ~ an inch long
- 3 nos - Cloves/laung
- 1/2 tsp - Ginger, minced
- 1/2 tsp - Garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp - Green chilli, minced
- 1/4 tsp - Turmeric powder
- 1 tsp - Tomato paste
- 1 tsp - Garam masala powder
- 1 tsp - Red chilli powder (optional)
- 2 tsp - Kasuri methi, crushed
- 5-6 nos - whole cashews, soaked in warm water OR 1 Tbsp - sour cream
- Salt to taste
- For garnishing - Coriander leaves, sliced onions and lemon wedges
*Boiled (in salted water) and cubed potatoes could be used instead of paneer to make this Aloo matar. Add it to the cooked gravy in step 4 before adding the peas, simmer for 6-7mins allowing the potatoes to soak up the flavors.
- In a deep pan, heat the oil on medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, cloves and bay leaves. Once fragrant and toasted, add the minced onions and ginger, garlic and chillies. Sprinkle some salt and cook till the onions are softened and translucent.
- Add turmeric, tomato paste and cook for a minute. (The tomato paste adds a nice color and tartness) The minced tomatoes go in next along with the garam masala powder. Cook this on medium heat until the tomatoes fall apart and the oil starts to separate from the edges. Stir every few minutes so the gravy does not burn.
- At this point, you can fish out the bay leaves, transfer the whole gravy to a blender with the soaked cashews and blend to a smooth paste. ( let it cool before blending or leave room for the hot steam to vent while grinding) Transfer it back to the pan, add the bay leaves and bring it back to medium heat with the crushed kasuri methi and peas added. Check for salt.
- If you are not in a mood to use the blender, start with finely minced onions & tomatoes and use a masher at this stage to turn it to pulp. Stir in a spoon of sour cream, proceed with the kasuri methi and peas, and simmer for a few minutes on low heat.
- Add the paneer cubes, heat it through, and add a little water if needed. Take off the heat, garnish with coriander leaves and lemon wedges on the side. Serve with pulao/jeera rice or Indian breads like naan and rotis.
The gravy tasted fabulous, if I say so myself. I made it twice in the last 3 weeks, the first time was the lazy me, not touching the blender and using low-fat sour cream for the creaminess. The fresh home grown tomatoes I found at the store were bursting with juices and added a nice tang. The peas held their shape and tasted really good in the gravy. I could not take the photos as soon as the curry was done, and so the peas seem to have lost the bright green they had. I consciously stayed away from using heavy spices in this curry because I wanted to taste the peas and keep it simple/mild. The kasuri methi in the end enhances the flavor of the gravy and gives it a very nice flavor. The second time I made it was this weekend, when I had friends visiting. This time I brought out the blender and used cashews to add richness to the gravy. It tasted great both ways and I don't think I can pick one over the other, it comes down to your convenience.