Sunday, January 23, 2011

Breakfast one winter's morning

Today morning, my phone conversation with my mother touched upon all kinds of topics- her morning glories’ untimely demise, the grand-parents’ beliefs, her trip to Bombay, my sister’s new house-mate, my mother’s music classes, new plates that took me only about two years to buy, and eventually food!
We were talking about kachauris and other food from Banaras and from I remembered chuda matar. Winters in my city of birth featured Chuda matar as an omnipresent breakfast/snack served by everyone. Whenever my friends in Benaras and I [ages 6-10] had a terrace-picnic where we brought something to eat from home and it happened to be December-January, 75% of our menu comprised of chuda matar.
I am not sure why I haven’t ever made chuda matar before. It is a very easy to put together and hard to mess up dish- a distant cousin of Kanda Poha from Maharashtra. Chuda matar is made of fresh green peas bursting with sweetness and thick robust poha that retains shape instead of lumping into gooiness when in contact with water.

I asked my mother for its recipe and while talking to her, finished making and eating it.

Here’s how I went about it-I ground together the green masala that defines this dish- half an onion, half a bunch of cilantro, 4-5 green chilies and an inch of ginger using Magic Bullet’s little cup with four blades. The resulting masala was a very bright green and slightly liquid, since I added a half a cup of water to rinse out the cup.

Next, I heated up a heavy bottomed sauce pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and a tea spoon of ghee. I added a teaspoon of cumin let it sizzle for half a minute and then added the ground masala. I let it cook on a medium flame stirring occasionally for about 7-10 minutes. I added a handful of frozen peas to the now almost thick green paste- and salt to taste. I covered and cooked it another couple of minutes. I just realized - I haven’t had un-sweet peas in my adopted country so far. So I guess, this chuda matar can be made in all seasons- not just when it is super cold.

At this time, I rinsed about a cup and a half of thick poha in a colander and added it to the peas in the pan along with half a teaspoon of sugar and a quarter cup of water. I stirred everything together and let it cook covered for another couple of minutes- enough time for the water to vanish and poha to look green and fluffy. I seasoned the finished product with some lemon juice and topped it with salted cashews.
It was delicious and my husband and I finished the entire pan in one sitting.
Notes from my mother:
- A two is to one ratio of Poha to Peas is normally used for this recipe.
- The green chillies and the cilantro define this recipe. You can switch out the tomatoes and garlic for onions or go crazy and add it all!
- Half a teaspoon of Garam masala is frequently sprinkled on chuda matar to kick up the flavor profile a notch.

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