We were discussing dinner and having the usual conversation, as in, what we could have that would use up some of our potatoes — we’ve gotten a lot in our CSA shares lately. We thought of making a gratin; that’s always good, it’s pretty easy, and just bakes away in the oven. But, then we thought, let’s have Indian food; that’s pretty easy, we could make up some Chapatis, Basmati rice, and some Aloo Matar and try out a new idea we have for making the sauce a little creamier, more like what you find at Indian restaurants.
Our original idea for making the sauce creamier was to use some yogurt, but we nixed that because we’d have to run to the store, and that wouldn’t be in the spirit of scratchin’ up our dinner. Instead, we investigated what we had available to make up our own yogurt-like sauce. Oh, and this recipe, or at least the spices, is based on the Mushroom and Pea Curry or Khumbi Matar.
Serves 4 (unless you’re really hungry)
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp fresh dill
- 3 Tbs olive oil
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onions
- 1 Tbs ground coriander
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 ounces white mushrooms, quartered
- 8 ounces green peas, fresh or frozen
- 6 medium red potatoes, cooked and chopped into pieces
We are fortunate to have naturally grown potatoes, so we didn’t worry about pesticides. If you worry, buy organic, or, if you discuss your concerns with the vendor, at the farmer’s market. For cooking, we just popped them in the microwave for 10 minutes. Buttermilk, of course, we make ourselves, but cultured buttermilk from the store would work, too. For the spices, we shop at an ethnic market that carries lots of spices we’d never seen, large packages, and great prices. We did use our scratched chili powder in place of cayenne — why not? Finally, mushrooms are not traditional in Aloo Matar, but we like ’em.
Make cultured cream. Mix together the buttermilk and cream, cover, and let sit on the counter for 2-4 hours. The active cultures of the buttermilk will start working on the cream, turning it into a mild sour cream- or yogurt-like product. The advantage of using this cultured cream product is that it will not separate while cooking.
Add dill. Once the cream and buttermilk have thickened, stir in the fresh dill. Ideally, let the dill infuse in the cream sauce for another hour or so.
Heat oil. In a large heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the olive oil until it shimmers. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions just begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
Add spices. Once the onions are cooked, stir in the coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute.
Add mushrooms. Stir in the mushrooms and about 1/2 cup of water. Careful, if your pan is hot, the water will produce a lot of hot steam. Cover, lower heat, and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add peas and potatoes. Stir in the peas and potato pieces. Cover and simmer until hot, about 5-10 minutes.
Salt. Taste and add salt; a teaspoon is about right.
Add cream sauce. Pour in the dill-cream sauce and stir until combined, resulting in a nice creamy sauce.
Serve. Serve immediately with rice, and, if you’re so inclined, chapatis.
When we made this dish, one of us had a commitment in the evening and didn’t know exactly when she’d be home, so the other made dinner and kept it hot, waiting until right before serving to add the cream sauce, for an extra 30-45 minutes. It held up perfectly, and still tasted as good as some Aloo Matars that we’ve had at Indian restaurants — the real key being the addition of the cream sauce at the end — which is a first for our home scratched Indian curries. On that basis alone, it rates a five stars, with the kicker being that it’s almost no trouble to put together, although you do need to plan ahead for the cream sauce.