Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Potato Pea Curry Quick and Easy

Last evening I was really late getting into the kitchen to make dinner. I had some pork chops I was planning to grill, with the idea of just slathering them with some barbecue sauce at the end of the grill time. I looked in the fridge; no barbecue sauce. Drat.

My next idea was to just use my marinade for Pork with Indian Spices. This marinade is so very delicious on pork, chicken or turkey, though I had never used it on pork chops before. Still, same difference so I proceeded. The marinade is tried and true and best of all, quick. I mixed up the marinade in a zip-top bag, placed the pork chops into the marinade and tossed it around a bit to coat. And then I was left with what to make for a side dish. My husband is very fond of potatoes. We have been eating potatoes all sorts of ways lately, including some new takes on potato salads. None of these were quick enough to get done in a reasonable amount of time for dinner when I was already running late.
Pork Chops in Indian Spices and Potato Pea Curry
Pork Chops in Indian Spices and Potato Pea Curry

Making Potato Pea Curry

Then I got that light bulb flashing on again. Since I was making Indian flavored pork, I would make Potato Pea Curry. I have made this a few times in past and it doesn't take very long. While the pork chops marinated, I started making the Potato Pea Curry. This curry by all rights should really have chopped fresh tomatoes in it, with a little tomato juice as the sauce, but my husband has an extreme distaste for fresh tomatoes. He absolutely loves almost any tomato based sauce; just nothing fresh. I use a can of tomato sauce which works well, giving the nice tomato base flavor and no despised chunks.

Obviously this curry has potatoes and peas in it, hence the name. Just FYI, "Aloo" is potato and "Mattar" means peas in Indian, so this can be called an Aloo Mattar Curry. Other Indian spices that flavor this dish are the ubiquitous coriander and cumin seeds. I know they may not be in every single Indian dish, but they certainly seem to be a set of main spice staples. Heat can be modified to taste. I used a little ancho chile powder and one jalapeno with seeds and membranes removed. Were Mario Batali to make this curry, I could imagine him using a goodly pinch of red pepper flakes and throwing in 2 or 3 sliced whole Serranos. Make the heat level to your taste. 
Potato Pea Curry (Aloo Mattar Curry)
Potato Pea Curry (Aloo Mattar Curry)

Other ingredients in this curry are onions, garlic and fresh ginger. Garlic and ginger are another two staples that go into most Indian dishes I have encountered. They are generally minced together finely, in more or less equal amounts. The last most important part of this dish is a good amount of cilantro. I use a large handful, chopped coarsely, but if this is objectionable, just use less, to taste.  I do not add turmeric to this curry, though it is certainly fine to use. I did add in a small bit of true cinnamon quill and 2 whole cloves. I highly recommend having a small coffee grinder to use only for spice grinding, if you do not already have one. The use of whole spices, freshly ground, makes a world of difference to the flavors in a dish. Though I really love black pepper, I left it out of this dish because of the heat coming from the ancho powder and the jalapeno. I tolerate a lot more heat than does my husband, so in deference to his taste buds, I try to keep the heat at a very tolerable level. I can always add in more pepper or cayenne to my taste at the table. 

Potato Pea Curry (Aloo Mattar Curry)

serves about 6
Potato Pea Curry (Aloo Mattar Curry)
Potato Pea Curry (Aloo Mattar Curry)

2.5 pounds potatoes, peeled, cubed
1 tablespoon salt, for potato cooking water
1 1/2 cups frozen baby peas (about 6 ounces)
1 - 2 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 to 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced with
1 large knob fresh ginger, size of a walnut
1 jalapeno, minced finely
1 1/2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1/2 inch true cinnamon quill
2 whole cloves
1 teaspoon pure ancho chilie powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 can (14.5 - 15 ounces) tomato sauce
large handful of cilantro, coarsely chopped

Place the cubed potatoes in a saucepan with water to just cover and bring to a boil. Once the pot boils, add the tablespoon of salt. I keep coarse sea salt for this purpose. Cook until the potatoes are tender. Drain and set them aside. Add in the frozen peas while the potatoes are hot and they will quickly come up to temperature. 

While the potatoes are boiling, set a large skillet to heat. Once hot, add the oil and then the onions, stirring often until the potatoes are softened, translucent and beginning to color. During this time, place the whole spices into a spice grinder and once fine, mix in the ancho powder and salt and set aside. Mince together the garlic and ginger, and then the jalapeno. Once the onion is softened, add in the garlic, ginger and jalapeno and toss until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add in the spices and toss well to combine, another 30 seconds. Add the can of tomato sauce and bring to boil. lower heat and cook for about 2 minutes. Pour this sauce over the potatoes and peas along with the chopped cilantro and stir well. Serve immediately.

Once the sauce had come together for the curry, I lit the grill. I got the pork chops on the grill a few minutes later. These were not thick chops, so they didn't take long on the grill. The whole dinner, from conception to table was 1 hour. Not bad.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.