Aloo Matar

W hen I was growing up, Every dinner included potato in some form or another.  Steamed potato, baked potato, mashed potato; with gravy or without, you name it and we ate it.   We had potato every night, in fact, my Dad still eats potato with steamed veggies and some kind of meat, every night of the week.  So, to no great surprise, I got sick and tired of eating the same kind of potato.  I put the potato on the back burner, in search of new and exciting flavors.

After I got married I got a lesson in Indian cooking and learned to cook aloo matar from my mother-in-law. It’s a Punjabi dish of peas and potatoes covered in a spicy sauce and it was a welcome change from the potato dishes I grew up with.  With all the spices and layers of Indian flavors, I thought it was one tasty way to eat my potatoes.

 

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Potatoes are a very versatile ingredient in Indian cooking.  You can find potato recipes all over India, from the tips of the Himalayas to the coasts of Kerala.  I think the potato must be the vegetable people turn to the most when they need something quick, filling and nourishing.   To give you an idea of just how many Indian recipes there are for potatoes, here is a small sampling of the versatility of the humble potato:

 

Potatoes with cauliflower (aloo gobi)

Potatoes mashed together with mixed vegetables and served with bread (pav bhaji)

Pan fried potato and vegetable cutlets

spicy mashed potatoes enveloped in dough and deep fried (samosas…check out our baked version of samosas)

Breads stuffed with spicy potatoes (aloo parathas)

Vegetable dumplings made with potatoes and cheese and covered in a creamy curry sauce (malai kofta)

 

….the list is almost endless.

 

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That being said, I realized last week that I had yet to blog about one of the most approachable and beginner-friendly Indian recipes out there, aloo matar.  This Punjabi style dish uses a watery gravy to soak the peas and potatoes with intense flavor.  It is one of the first recipes I learned, so I think it is great for beginners.

These days I always have a basket full of potatoes in my kitchen…a testament to how tasty Indian potatoes can be… and since I always have bags of frozen peas in the freezer, this dish has become the one I turn to when I need a quick dinner that doesn’t sacrifice flavor.

 

 

ALOO MATAR RECIPE

 

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A popular restaurant dish which comes from Punjab. This dish is made with the same “paste” technique as Mummy-ji’s chole recipe.  This technique the quickest way to make the basic masala required in most Indian recipes.

Serves: 6

Time: 1 hour

Spice Level: low (if you want it spicy feel free to add more chilies or a spoonful of red chili powder)

INGREDIENTS
2 Onions (13 oz.)
1 Head of garlic
1 Inch of ginger, peeled
4 Green chilies (optional)
4 Tablespoons of oil
1 Pound of tomatoes (or 3 tomatoes)
1 Teaspoon turmeric
1 Tablespoon garam masala
     2 Teaspoons salt
3 Cups water
1 Pounds of potatoes (or 3 potatoes)
1
Pounds of peas (1 lbs 15 oz)

MAKE THE TARKA PASTE

Blend the onions, garlic, ginger and chilies.  Add as little water as needed in order to blend because you’ll be cooking the mixture until the water evaporates (the more you add the longer the cooking will take).

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Heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat, then add the blended tarka.  Let it cook while you blend the tomatoes.

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Add the blended tomatoes

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Add the  salt,

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the garam masala

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and the turmeric.

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Give it a stir.

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Let it cook for about 10-15 minutes.  You’re looking for all the liquid to evaporate.  It should go from looking like this:

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to this…

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You should end up with a thick paste that has no shine to it, which tells you all the water has evaporated.  Once the paste starts to stick to the bottom of the pan a bit, you know it’s getting dry. You’ll need to stir it more consistently in the last five minutes.

 

Tip: while the paste is cooking, you can prep the potatoes.

 

ADD THE VEGGIES

Add 3 cups of water and stir till the water is combined with the paste.

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Peel and dice the potatoes into bite size pieces.

Add the peeled and chopped potatoes.

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Cover and let cook for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked.

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You know the potatoes are cooked when you can easily slice through a piece of potato.

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After the potatoes are cooked, add the peas.

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Cover and cook for 20 minutes until the peas have no crunch. If you are using fresh peas instead of frozen, you may only need to cook them for 10 minutes.

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If the mixture becomes too thick, add some more water until the gravy is the consistency you want. Remember, to let the whole pot come to a simmer again if you add more water.  It helps all the flavors mix together.

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 SERVE

Serve with chapatis or rice.  See the related recipes for similar side dishes.

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Read Full Recipe

MATAR PANEER RECIPE

Another popular restaurant dish which comes from Punjab.

This dish is made with the same “paste” technique as Mummy-ji’s chole recipe.  It’s the quickest way to make the basic foundation known as tarka.

Serves: 6

Time: 1 hour

Spice Level: low

INGREDIENTS
2 Onions (13 oz.)
1 Head of garlic
1 Inch of ginger, peeled
4 Green chilies (optional)
4 Tablespoons of oil
1 Pound of tomatoes (or 3 tomatoes)
1 Teaspoon turmeric
1 Tablespoon garam masala
     2 Teaspoons salt
3 Cups water
1 Pounds of potatoes (or 3 potatoes)
1
Pounds of peas (1 lbs 15 oz)

MAKE THE TARKA PASTE

Blend the onions, garlic, ginger and chilies.  Add as little water as needed in order to blend because you’ll be cooking the mixture until the water evaporates (the more you add the longer the cooking will take).

 

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat, then add the blended tarka.  Let it cook while you blend the tomatoes.

 

Add the blended tomatoes

 

Add the  salt,

 

the garam masala

 

and the turmeric.

 

Give it a stir.

 

Let it cook for about 10-15 minutes.  You’re looking for all the liquid to evaporate.  It should go from looking like this:

 

to this…

 

You should end up with a thick paste that has no shine to it, which tells you all the water has evaporated.  Once the paste starts to stick to the bottom of the pan a bit, you know it’s getting dry. You’ll need to stir it more consistently in the last five minutes.

 

Tip: while the paste is cooking, you can prep the potatoes.

 

ADD THE VEGGIES

Add 3 cups of water and stir till the water is combined with the paste.

 

Peel and dice the potatoes into bite size pieces.

Add the peeled and chopped potatoes.

 

Cover and let cook for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked.

 

You know the potatoes are cooked when you can easily slice through a piece of potato.

 

After the potatoes are cooked, add the peas.

 

Cover and cook for 20 minutes until the peas have no crunch. If you are using fresh peas instead of frozen, you may only need to cook them for 10 minutes.

 

If the mixture becomes too thick, add some more water until the gravy is the consistency you want. Remember, to let the whole pot come to a simmer again if you add more water.  It helps all the flavors mix together.

 

 SERVE

Serve with chapatis or rice.  See the related recipes for similar side dishes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 Comments

  1. 6-21-2013

    This looks SO SO good! I wish my hubby liked peas! I may have to make this for myself. It’s a great comfort food dish. PS Do you have one of those high powered wet grinders that come from India, like a Mixie? Or does your blender do the job? I have been tempted to get a Mixie, but haven’t done so yet.

    • 6-22-2013

      Hi Taryn. I tend to use my food processor as it does a good job with blending pastes. The blender tends to clog. I don’t have a Mixie cause I like my food processor, but those do work really well. I hope you try the dish, it may convert your hubby into a pea lover.

  2. 6-21-2013

    I love this dish.

  3. 8-20-2013

    I’ve made this three times already and each time it comes out great! It’s even better if you let it sit for awhile.. thanks for another great recipe!

    • 8-20-2013

      How awesome!!! Thanks Lupe :)

  4. 9-9-2013

    What do you use when you don’t have a food processor or blender? How much more time would this take by hand?

    • 9-13-2013

      Oh you can just finely chop by hand, it might take 10 more minutes.

      • 9-26-2013

        Thanks, it took me quite a while (I’m a slow cook, and got too impatient to chop everything finely so just chopped everything to bite-sized pieces; finished in 1-2 hours)

        In this way, without a food processor (so you don’t get sauce or paste really, I just cooked the vegetables until most of liquid was gone) it ends up as more of a chunky soup with thin broth, but it was delicious! I was too lazy to make chapatis (and don’t have wheat flour) so I lightly toasted some pita bread in the oven…it was really good! I liked to open the pita and put the vegetables inside it (won’t last long because the pita will be wet but still pretty good)

        Thanks for the recipe
        **Also, I agree with Lupe, it does get better when it sits for a while, even by the time of the second helping

        • 9-30-2013

          That sounds like a great creative solution :)

          My brother was saying he loves eating my leftovers because they taste better than the original dish :)

          Thanks so much for sharing your cooking adventure.

  5. 9-23-2013

    Taryn, just a heads up… I believe a wet grinder uses stone to make a paste of rices and dals. A mixie is different. Thats more of the blender/spice grinder you are thinking of.

    Colleen, the recipe looks really yummy! Might make this for dinner tonight.

    • 9-24-2013

      Thanks for the tip about the wet stone vs. mixie.

  6. 10-15-2013

    Hi colleen,

    i stumbled across your blig while searching for authentic punjabi recipes. these pictures are gorgeous. I will try this one tonight.

    • 10-16-2013

      Awe thanks!

  7. 10-31-2013

    Just as an aside, I haven’t tried the recipe yet, but I plan on cooking the cauliflower and potatoes a bit before adding to the sauces. The citric acid from tomatoes tends to stop the veggie cooking process, or, at the very least, slow it exponentially. Has anyone who made the recipe had this issue?

    • 11-6-2013

      you could try microwaving the chopped cauliflower and potatoes before you add them. Cover a bowl full of cauliflower and potatoes with plastic wrap and steam for 5 minutes in the microwave. That would help them cook a bit before hand.

      The tomatoes need to be cooked along with the rest of the “tarka” base of onions, garlic, ginger and spices. So the tomatoes would be going in before the cauliflower and potato.

      If you give it a try, I would be curious to know how it turns out :)

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