Winter is the time for comfort, a warm hug, for food, for heart warming soups and stews, and for a talk beside the fire, time for home, for bonhomie. This recipe of gajar matar ki sabzi or red carrots, green pea curry is an ode to the goodness of winter bounties that nature bestows us every season. Red carrots are winter special, these ruby red carrots are sweeter in taste than it’s year round counter part, the orange ones.
While making gajar ka halwa / Indian carrot pudding is a winter ritual, shelling fresh green peas is also used to be a winter ritual for many, in days of yore when the frozen ones were not invented. Fresh green peas has an unmatched flavour and taste and every winter as the market begins to flood with these green pea pods, somewhere in the kitchen, the preparation for koraishutir kachori had already been initiated. Eating seasonally for a better environment is a practice that many Indians still follows. Food is naturally nutrient rich that way as well as its taste and flavours are also heightened during the season it is harvested.
This gajar matar ki sabzi which we prepare only with red carrots is again a family favourite. In our home, this is usually being prepared as a stew with fresh and ripe tomatoes, root turmeric, ginger, whole spices, green chilles, fresh green peas, new potatoes and lots of fresh coriander leaves. Onions and garlics are too strong for mild and sweet tasting carrots, hence we keep it simple, without onion and garlic. If you want to make it dry curry, then skip the tomatoes altogether. This would be devoured then with tandoori roti, and leftovers would be served next day on bed of steamed rice for lunch.
Those bright sparks of embers bring forth so many forgotten memories of my childhood, spent in the jungles of Chattisgarh. That tall mango tree with a swing, that sprawling guava tree that had transcended the fences between the neighbors , those iron hearths on which sweet potatoes were being roasted on the dying embers of the charcoal, and that huge dekchi in which red carrots, tomatoes, potatoes and green peas were stewing slowly. Bright and shiny. It was true winter comfort food for us.
Food is pure nostalgia. Don’t you agree with me?
- Red carrots, sliced or cut into baton: 500 gm
- New potatoes, cut into quarts : 2 cups
- Green peas, use fresh only: 2 cups
- Ripe tomatoes : 3
- Green chillies : 2-3
- Root turmeric / fresh turmeric, grated: ¼ cup (you can use turmeric powder too ,but it will taste different)
- Ginger , chopped : 2 tbsp
- Whole spices, cinnamon , clove, black pepper corns: 1inch, 3-4, 5-6
- Fresh cilantro, desi variety , chopped: 1 cup
- Cumin powder : 11/2 tsp
- Red chilli powder : 1 tsp
- Turmeric powder : ½ tsp
- Salt as per taste
- Sugar : 1 tsp
- Oil for cooking
- Hing / asafoetida : a pinch
- Wash, peel and cut all the vegetables as described.
- Make a paste of 1 tomato and cut the rest of the tomatoes in large chunks or quarts.
- Heat some oil in a deep bottom kadhai. Add the hing, whole spices, followed by the potatoes and carrots.
- Saute them lightly and add in the chopped ginger, tomato paste and green chillies.
- Keep sautéing on medium heat till the vegetables begins to absorb brownish hues. Do not brown them.
- Add all the spices, grated turmeric, green peas, salt and sugar.
- Fry them for 2-3 minute till the rawness of the spices disappear.
- Add enough water to just cover the vegetables. Cover with lid and let it cook on low heat till almost done. Almost 80 percent done. Carrots and potatoes should get soft by this time.
- Check for seasonings, add if requires something. Add the chunks of tomatoes and keep cooking it on medium heat till the tomatoes begins to soft. Do not make the tomatoes mushy.
- Adjust the gravy as per taste. You can keep it soupy or you can reduce the gravy till it looks clingy enough but good enough to soak the tandoori rotis.
- Once done, stir in the freshly chopped cilantro and cover it. Switch off the flame and keep it covered for 2-3 minute.
- Drizzle some melted ghee if requires.
- Serve warm with roti, paratha or rice, pulao.