India is such a diverse land that sometimes I feel one lifetime won’t be enough to understand and explore it fully. It’s overwhelming as well as fascinating at the same time! Whether it’s food, people, language; everything changes every few 100 kilometres in the country. That’s the level of diversity I am talking about! Food has definitely given me an incredible chance to weave in the stories of my exploration of a country I grew up in.
I grew up in the central part of India and my food influences were mainly from the northern part. But lately this urge to explore my country further has grown and I realised I wasn’t really working towards it. While thinking how to be more involved and understand my native place, one day I saw on Instagram some food bloggers sharing their food in an Indian themed cook along.
They pick a region from India and then cook several recipes as part of that theme. I had found a way to explore my country through food being thousands of miles away from it. The idea is to discover the previously unknown or non-famous recipes and try to bring them into mainstream instead of just cooking the popular cliché recipes.
So, this peas curry was my pick for the ‘Food from North Eastern region of India’ series.
North Eastern part is a completely new territory for me both in terms of food and travel. When I started doing my research, I was blown away with the rich culture this part of India has on offer. For a moment, I felt that I knew nothing about India. While reading, one part of my brain was fighting with the guilt of ignorance and the other part was inquisitive and intrigued by the new information it was scanning. Oh, I am so glad I became a part of this cook along, it has given a direction to my journey!
Mangal Kangtak is a recipe from the state of Manipur, one of the eight states of the North-Eastern region. I chose this recipe simply because peas are in season at the moment and also this recipe uses flat onions which I equated to leeks.
It just so happened that I found some wonderful young leeks at my local grocers. The joy of cooking with fresh and seasonal ingredients is pure bliss for me which is also very evident in the taste. Indian food and spices go hand in hand and so in this recipe, a blend of spices is used which uplifts the taste of fresh ingredients. I would recommend to keep it the way it is and not tinker around too much, as too much spice or addition of garlic or any strong ingredient will take away the gentle and delicate taste of fresh peas and leeks.
Keep it simple, enjoy and smile…be a responsible consumer and try to live a sustainable life!!
Preparation time : 10-15 minutes
Cooking time : 20-30 minutes
Makes : 3-4 servings
Suitable for freezing
Inspired by : Mangal Kangtak recipe by Hoihnu Hauzel
1 cup=250 ml, 1 tablespoon=15 ml, 1 teaspoon=5 ml
2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil/any cooking oil
1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
2 cups of young leeks with greens, finely chopped
2 plum tomatoes, pureed
3 cups of fresh or frozen green peas
2 cups of water
1 cup of hot water, additional
8-10 roast potatoes
A handful of fresh coriander leaves to garnish
1 dried Kashmiri red chilli
¼ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon each of coriander, cumin, kasoori methi (dry fenugreek leaves) and red chilli/paprika powder
salt to taste
A large saucepan
Heat oil in a pan and saute leeks for a minute or two, until soft on a medium heat.
Keeping the heat medium, add ginger and sauté for a few seconds. Add in the pureed tomato and cook until it reduces its water content and oil starts to surface up and around the pan i.e. thick paste like consistency.
Add all the ground spices along with salt and stir for about a minute, again on a medium heat.
Mix in the peas with the tomato mixture and sauté for about a minute or so and then add water. Bring it to a boil and cook until peas are cooked for about 8-10 minutes. Add more hot water if you want more gravy.
Take off the heat, mix the roast potatoes with the curry and garnish with fresh coriander leaves before serving.
HINTS & TIPS
It is a purely plant based recipe, gluten and dairy free too.
Serve warm with hot parathas (Indian flatbread without yeast) and a side salad of lemon pickled onions and some Indian chilli or mango pickle.
Instead of kasoori methi, you can also use ¼ teaspoon of fenugreek seeds powder or if you can get hold of fresh fenugreek, use ½ cup of leaves roughly chopped.
Leeks can be replaced with spring onions.
You can add a touch of garam masala but don’t be tempted to use too much.
This recipe doesn’t use green chillies but you can add it as a garnish, if you prefer.