The vegetable dish for the week: potato and pea curry. This sounds like everything I would love (well, I really love potatoes). It is actually very good, but:
1. As with every single thing I’ve ever made, ever, the flavors are muted. Probably the fault of old chili powder and old turmeric and old (well, new, but made with old spices) garam masala. Oh, whoops, I never actually added the garam masala. (Also I just spelled that mamasala, which I like better.)
2. There are way too many potatoes. It tastes more like a carb course than a vegetable course. So it’s sort of weird to eat with rice on the side. It isn’t vegetabley enough.
3. There’s SOMETHING about it. I don’t know. Not enough flavor? DEPTH OF FLAVOR? (That’s a concept I don’t really understand.)
But I do like it, and if you want to, you may make it. Just add more spices. Or fresher spices. I think I’ll probably make it again, and/or experiment with it; it is a good combination of things.
I diced my potatoes and tomatoes into approximately half-inch dice (this is pretty small; I wanted them to be close in size to the peas. They’re bigger, but pea-sized potato pieces would be a little insane).
I heated my mustard seeds (these are so old—I think they’re actually the first “fancy” spice I bought, maybe three years ago when I wanted to make samosas; this is the second time I’ve used them) in vegetable oil, and then added cumin (1/4 tsp ground instead of 1/2 tsp seeds), and, FINALLY, my asafoetida, which was difficult to get open. I don’t know what it contributed, but I was excited to be able to use it.
I added the potatoes, peas, and tomatoes then, in rapid succession, because I was scared of everything starting to burn. (Oh my God, this is the second time this has happened to me: I am listening to the same Studio 360 episode for the third time, because I’ve been home with the radio on all three times it has aired. Like, in the past three days. This cannot be normal.) (I am kind of tired of Weird Al.) (I don’t know why I’m linking that. I’m not really recommending it.) (QUICK, what’s on AM820? Does anyone understand these jokes???)
Then I added two cups of water. I thought this was a weird direction, and it turned out to be, indeed, weird. It was way too much water. Probably because I had cut the potatoes so small, they cooked through way before the water had evaporated. (I also don’t really see the purpose of the water in the recipe—if it’s just to prevent everything from burning, it should have been WAY less. And even if it was to make it saucy, it still could have been way less.) I also added the turmeric, chili powder, sugar, and some salt, but not enough.
Things cooked for a while; when the concoction was less soupy, I added the coconut milk—about half a can—and heated to a boil. Shake your can of coconut milk before opening and adding; what I added was mostly the cream, the thicker liquid on top.
I do really like the combination of spice (there is some spice—right now I’m eating a bowl of this, jasmine rice, and the beans, and there is definitely some spice action, though it’s more a general heat than distinguishable flavors), starchy potatoes, and sweet peas. I feel that this recipe can go places. AND also this is like the first time I’ve used real tomatoes instead of canned ones (at least, in the past year). Wooooo!
Potato and Pea Curry
Adapted from http://www.harekrsna.com
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds or 1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp asafoetida (this is a good explanation of why it’s used, though I haven’t found it to be quite that transformational)
2 big potatoes (use your judgment…)
2 tomatoes (apparently the size doesn’t matter; I used “vine tomatoes”—medium-size, round ones)
1 lb green peas (I used frozen; this could also be why there was too much water)
2 c water (OR LESS—I would recommend less!)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garam masala (recipe did not say where this should be added; I would assume with the turmeric and chili powder is fine)
1/2 tsp sugar
1 c coconut milk (about half a 14-oz. can)
Heat vegetable oil or ghee in a large frying pan and add mustard seeds; cook until they crackle. Add the cumin and asafoetida; stir, and then add the vegetables, water, spices, sugar, and salt. Cook until the potatoes are done (just stick a fork in them); I would also recommend letting the water evaporate, or else you will have not-very-good soup. Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil; cook for a few more minutes. Serve with cilantro as a garnish.