Potato and Pea Curry is the dish I associate most with home. Every time I come home, there’s a 99% chance that I’ll be eating it for dinner. It’s Indian comfort food — simple, relatively easy to prepare and appealing to pretty much everyone.
Lucky number 13 on my 29 Before 29 list was to learn how to make this dish because waiting year-long stretches for it was making me cranky.
I also think this is a fitting tribute to my grandmother who made it for me all the time. Mine isn’t nearly as good, but I think she would have approved.
Now, let’s get down to business.
Most important is the music. In honor of my family, I decided to crank up the Lata Mangeshkar for this one. Definitely a far cry from Gaslight Anthem, Biggie and Bruce — but I have to admit, it made my apartment seem more like home…minus the family who doesn’t understand the concept of ‘indoor voices.’
To make Potato Pea Curry, you will need:
A mom/grandma/aunt who will kick your ass out of the kitchen and tell you to watch TV while they handle dinner. If you’re not in possession of such awesomeness, you might want to grab:
and the following spices:
A word about measurements. I’m pretty sure Mom thinks they were invented by Satan and therefore, doesn’t believe in them. When I asked how much mustard seed I would need, she responded, “A chupti.”
That’s a nebulous measurement somewhere between a pinch, a teaspoon and a half and the square root of pixie dust.
When I asked how much tomato I would need, she huffed, “Jemmy!” in her best ‘my kid is a moron’ voice. Also known as her normal speaking voice.
For the record, that’s not a measurement. That’s what Mom calls me.
So, for all the people out there who don’t think actual measurements are akin to devilry, you’re going to need:
1/4 teaspoon of mustard seed
1/4 teaspoon of whole cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon of red chili pepper (obviously, this can be adjusted to taste – less if you’re a wuss, more if you’d like your colon to liquefy)
1/4 teaspoon of tumeric
Seven tablespoons of crushed tomatoes
Two 1/4 cups of water
1/4 teaspoon of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
Crank the heat to medium. Coat the bottom of your saucepan with vegetable oil. A couple of tablespoons should do it
Once heated, add the cumin and mustard seeds. They will crack, pop and sputter so be careful.
Then, add your tumeric and give the pan a quick shake.
Add your tomatoes. This is when the mixture will rear up like hellfire itself so be careful.
Add your chili powder.
Add the potatoes and give the mixture a quick stir.
Add 1/4 cup of water and be sure to reuse the same bowl that you used for your tomatoes because otherwise, Mom will yell at you for using too many pieces of crockery.
Let this mixture simmer for fifteen minutes. At around this time, your kitchen should smell pretty amazing.
After fifteen minutes, add the peas. Being English, I love me some peas so I added a whole cup, but you can add less or more depending on your personal tastes.
Add another 1/4 cup of water, the salt and sugar.
Simmer again for fifteen minutes and then, you’re done!
Around this time, you start wondering what the hell you’re going eat with your curry. Since I don’t like rice, I figured I’d make flatbread.
Flatbread or chapati is a staple in Indian households. When I lived at home, I hated the stuff but now that I’m thousands of miles away – I kinda miss it.
Being woefully underprepared, I only had 3/4 of a cup of flour in the house so I stuck that in a bowl and added a couple of tablespoons of oil and a generous sprinkle of salt. It was a bit of a mess, so I called Mom in a panic and she recommended I add cornmeal.
Then, this happened.
Eff you, stupid lid of stupid cornmeal container. And yes, that is a stepstool in my kitchen. What, dudes? I’m 4’11”.
So after you finish cursing and clean up the cornmeal (whose sand-like properties ensure that it gets in every crevasse ever), you add about half a cup of the stuff to your sticky, doughy mess and all of a sudden, it looks less like garbage and more like something edible. Hooray!
Take your dough and work it into a circle. You’re supposed to use a rolling pin, but I didn’t have one.
Yes, Mom. I know. I should have taken yours when I was at home. No, you don’t need to mail me one. Yes, I will listen to you from now on.
Slap that sucker onto a hot skillet and flip every now and then. If you’re brown, use your hands. That’s how we roll, dudes. In a related story, I no longer have fingerprints.
When brown spots appear, you’re done.
Serve immediately. Eat with your fingers like the locals do and try to determine what’s more delicious – the meal you just made or the sense of self-satisfaction in which you currently bask.
Final verdict? Shiva H. Vishnu, it’s delicious! Not as good as Mom’s or Grandma’s, but a damn fine effort.
If you make it, I hope you like it as much as I do.
Eleven down, 18 to go.