Karaishunti'r Ghugni.(greenpeas and cottage cheese curry)1:10 PM
In my food dictionary there are a many musts that I want to make at least once every season. Winter being the most generous in terms of it's bounty of fruits and vegetables there are so many delicacies that needs to be whipped up in my kitchen. Be it alu methi paratha, cauliflower curry, karaishutir kochuri or gajar ka halwa. I need to treat my family with these at least once every winter. This year being an extremely tough one personally, I could not make most of these when in season but at least tried whole heatedly.
This Karaishuti'r ghugni or curried fresh peas with potato and cottage cheese is a child hood favourite. Not that Maa made it every week but at least once during the end of the peas season. It's the time when the peas would mature in the pod yet still lush green and pearl like. We would all go in the garden and will uproot the pea plants to get the last harvest of the season. Together will collect all the pods while discarding the mature plants with its stardy stems and shoots. Not good for another batch of stir fry or bora (fritters).
Personally I believe the tender peas are too sweet for this dish. It does not hold the shape and disintegrate before soaking the tastes properly. If you dont get the fresh peas use the frozen ones. It gives similar yummy result.
This dish was also part of my small stint with Etv's Bangla's show Prothoma where I did 12 episodes sharing 12 of my seasonal recipes. There I cooked the vegetarian version which is added in the second part of the recipe. Please try to make the Chhena or cottage cheese fresh at home for this dish. This definitely makes the taste very very good.
I know am terribly late in posting this but with the tensions at home hardly could manage to post it on time. But saw the last of the fresh peas getting sold on my visit to the market the other day. So here I am pushing the recipe out on you with the hope that you will make a better use of the last of the season's bounty.
Fresh peas: 11/2 cups
Potato: 1 medium or 6-8 new potatoes.
Onion: 1 large purple variety
Tomato: 1 large
Ginger paste: 11/2 tsps
Cumin powder: 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder: 1/2 tsp
Green chillies: 1 or 2
Cumin seeds: 1/3 tsp
Cinnamon: 1/2" stick
Sugar: 1/3 tsp
Garam masala powder: 1/3 tsp
Oil: 4 tbsp
For the cottage cheese: 3 cups milk (2% or more fat)
Lemon juice: 2 tsp
Lets make the Chhena first:
Heat the milk and bring it to a rolling boil. Add the lemon juice and lower the flame. Stir it gently and when the whey separates pour the entire content in a muslin lined colander. Let the whey drain out. You can store it to knead flour dough for roti.
Tie the sides of the muslin and hang it for all the whey to drain out. Keep for 30-45 minutes and then place it over an inverted steel or other metal plate. Put something heavy on top. I use my Silbatta or Mortar and pestle you can even use a big panful of water or a 5lb can. Keep it like this for an hour to drain away all the liquid and make it flat and dense for yu to cut it in any shape you desire.
Cut in squares and lightly shallow fry it with a sprinkle of salt beofre adding to my curries.
Peel the potato and cut in cubes. /if using baby potatoes peel and cut them in half.
Peel and chop the onion as finely as possible.
Heat little oil and first lightly fry the chhena cubes till they are golden. Sprinkle of pinch of salt on each side while frying. Take out with a slotted spoon and keep aside.
Fry the potato cubes with little bit of salt and turmeric till golden. Keep the flame medium to cook it properly. Drain and keep aside.
Heat all the oil and temper with lightly pounded cinnamon and cloves. Add the cumin seeds and when they start to splutter add the chopped onion. Mix in chopped green chilies and Sprinkle little salt and saute on medium till they turn soft and lightly golden on the edges. It will take around 5-6 minutes. Mix the cumin-coriander and ginger paste with 2 tbsp water and add to the onion. Season with salt, chili and little bit of turmeric for colour. cook on low till oil starts to separate and the raw smell of the spices are gone.
Now add the tomato (quartered or chopped) and sprinkle lil salt. mix and cover. The tomato should be soft and mix it with your spatula to get a smooth spice mix. Agian when you see oil separating at the sides add the shelled peas. Mix properly and add more salt and turmeric if needed. Add the potatoes and cover. Let the peas soak the flavour before you add the water for 2-3 minutes.
Pour 11/2 cups of warm water in the pan. Mix and cover. Let it boil on medium fame and check in between to see if they are cooked through and the flavours have seeped in.
Once the peas are soft and the potatoes are cooked add the fried cottage cheese pieces (5-6 minutes). Cover and adjust the seasoning with the sugar and if needed more salt. Cook for another couple of minutes.
Finish the dish with garam masala powder
Follow the same procedure but dont add the chopped onion rather increase the quantity of ginger paste to 2 tsps and directly add the mixture after tempering the oil.
Add one more medium tomato to give body to the dish and balance the taste with a pinch of sugar. Finish with garam masala powder and 1 tsp of ghee.
This dish pairs best with Luchi but being a little concious I served it with Roti.