I was sitting at my desk, editing hundreds of photos for a quick client turnaround, when I realized it was almost 2 p.m. and I was starving. This happens to me more than I care to admit. It was one-hundred-percent, brain flashing yellow lights, brink of not thinking clearly, straight up hanger coming on. The problem with pregnancy is that extreme hunger not only comes on suddenly, it is almost always accompanied by a craving that demands satisfaction - no substitutes. For me, that craving was Indian food, which presented two problems:
1. I'm trying (really trying!) to take the take-out option off the table, especially for lunch. I don't need to be ordering enough food and shelling out the cash to meet a restaurant's $20 delivery minimum.
2. Even if I caved and ordered takeout, it would take 45 minutes to get here.
After getting sad for a moment and then doing a quick mental inventory of the fridge, I realized that I at least had potatoes, frozen peas, and fresh ginger in the fridge. I google search followed by a rummage through the spice cabinet confirmed: I had what I needed to make aloo matar - a deliciously warming Punjabi dish of potato and peas cooked in a tomato-based sauce.
For a long time I thought Indian dishes MUST be tough to make, if only because the flavors are so unlike anything I grew up eating. In reality, Indian cooking is actually a lot of one-pot dishes. Plus, once you buy the basic spices (most of which are used below), you'll have them ready to go for your next Indian cooking adventure. Not only did I have all of the ingredients, but the dish took less than ten minutes to prep, and another 15-20 to cook. Served with rice, some fresh cilantro, and mango chutney, the flavor was authentic, the cost was minimal, and the gratification was off the charts. Nothing beats homemade Indian food (except leftover homemade Indian food).
Punjabi Aloo Matar
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 red onion, minced
2 potatoes, diced
1 cup peas
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 28 oz. can peeled tomatoes
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro + 2 tbsp for garnish
1. In a medium-sized dutch oven over medium heat, heat the coconut oil and mustard seeds until the mustard seeds are toasted (keep a lid mostly on the pot so the seeds don't pop out).
2. Add the red onion, ginger and garlic. Sauté until the onion begins to soften and the garlic and ginger are fragrant.
3. Add the tomatoes to the pot, first crushing them with a fork or your hands. Cook down until the liquid is mostly evaporated, about 5-7 minutes.
4. Add the chili powder, coriander, turmeric, cumin, garam masala, peas, potatoes and water.
5. Place the lid on the dutch oven and cook for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are soft. I like to peek at 10 minutes to check the consistency. If it's too watery, cook the remaining 5-10 minutes uncovered.
Serve over rice with mango chutney. I happened to have some chutney leftover from the last time my Indian craving hit (it's a problem), but Patak's Sweet Mango Chutney is sold in most grocery and a solid go-to if you don't have takeout leftovers in the fridge.
Is leftover chutney in the fridge a thing for other people?
Does anyone else eat this much Indian food?
Tell me I'm not alone!