• Payal Maharaj

Mum's Special Potato, Eggplant and Green Pea Curry


Today's post is about one of my favorite vegetarian curries. It is full of soft potatoes, tender green peas and melt-in-your mouth eggplant. So delicious! This curry is typically made on special occasions like weddings, prayer services and Diwali. I think you cannot have a wedding without this curry. Really you can't. Think there is some unofficial law against it. Funnily enough, in my own Indian wedding I did not get to eat this special curry until everything was over. My husband and I ate lunch with the priest after our ceremony. The priest does not eat potatoes so the three of us were not served this curry out of respect for the priest. I was trying to be bridal and so I wasn’t sure how to bride-ily (this is a word right?) ask about where the curry was in a demure, bridal manner. I was extremely disappointed. Also, didn’t help that we were fasting until the ceremony ended. Anyways, long story short, I ended up having this special curry for dinner that night along with pooris and all the other delicious curries my mum and nani had cooked in the morning (we all had been up since 5am). So it totally made up for the missing curry during lunch. Did I mention, I am grateful to be born in a family of great cooks?! Yummy fate!

Just so you know, you don’t have to wait for a special occasion to make this curry. Anytime is a good time! So let's talk about the peas. We used dried green peas for this recipe from…you guessed it…the Indian grocery store. But you can totally use frozen green peas for this. If you do, let me know how it works out! You can also leave the peas out and just make a potato and eggplant curry. This is not a dry curry and the eggplant helps to create this delicious gravy that you can dip pooris in and eat over rice. Yummy! You can either soak the peas overnight and use them the next day right away or soak overnight and boil them the day you need to make this curry. Goal is to reconstitute and soften the dried peas before cooking. The potatoes should be largely diced and the eggplant should be cut into sticks (like carrot sticks).

The other ingredients are the standard ingredients mum uses in her other recipes. As I mentioned before, I am amazed at how many different types of curries can be made with the same flavor base. The other thing I love about mum's curries, is how relatively quick and easy they are to make. Amazed! Flabbergasted even!






The rest of the steps are simple. Cook the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, onions, ginger, garlic and chilis if using. Add and cook turmeric and garam masala.










Then we add the peas and cook until they are half cooked. Best way to test would be to pull out a couple of peas (not just one) and smush them to check doneness. If peas start to brown before cooking, add a splash of water and turn heat to low and allow peas to cook. Salt should also be added at this point.







Once peas are half-cooked, add potatoes and eggplant. Add more salt. Mix well. Cover and cook on medium heat. Cook until eggplant is just cooked through.











Then add water. Boil for about five minutes then reduce heat and simmer until eggplant is fall-apart. Add tomatoes.












Cook until eggplant has completely disintegrated. The curry is done at this point and cilantro can be stirred in and also added as a garnish.











There you have it! Mum's Special Potato, Eggplant and Pea Curry or as we lovingly call it, "aloo baigan". Enjoy hot with freshly made pooris, yoghurt sauce and a chutney or two!

So a very special meal would include this curry, along with pumpkin curry, jackfruit curry, raita and maybe a simple side salad. So delicious!

Let me know what you think in the comments section below!

RECIPE:

Serves 8

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time about 30 minutes

Ingredients:

*2 cups peas (soaked overnight)

2 Asian eggplants (sticks)

2 medium potatoes (large dice)

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp mustard seeds

1/4 tsp cumin seeds

Handful of curry leaves

1/2 cup diced onions

1 tbsp crushed ginger

1 tbsp crushed garlic

1 tsp turmeric

1.5 tsp garam masala

Salt to taste**

3 cups of water (plus 2 tbsp extra)

1 medium tomato diced

Handful of chopped cilantro

Method:

  1. Dried peas can be soaked overnight or boiled until softened right before use.

  2. Prep potatoes and eggplant and leave them in water until use.

  3. Heat up oil and add mustard and cumin seeds. Once they sputter, add onions. Once edges brown add garlic, ginger, curry leaves and chilis if using. Cook until aromatic. About 1-2 minutes.

  4. Add turmeric and masala. Cook until aromatic. About 1 minute.

  5. Add soaked or boiled peas and salt. Mix well. Cover.

  6. Cook on medium heat until peas are half cooked. If peas start to brown before they are half cooked, add two tbsp of water and turn heat to low and cook until peas are at least half cooked.

  7. ***Add eggplant sticks and potatoes on medium heat. Add more salt.

  8. When eggplant has cooked through, add 3 cups of water on medium heat. Bring to boil for five minutes. Reduce to simmer.

  9. Cook until eggplant has cooked down completely.

  10. Add tomatoes when eggplant is completely cooked.

  11. Turn off heat when eggplant has completely disintegrated and sort of mixed into the gravy and tomatoes have softened.

  12. Stir in cilantro. Add in as garnish.

Notes:

*There are two ways to prep peas for this recipe:

  1. Soak peas overnight. Wash and drain them before use the next day.

  2. Or soak peas overnight, then boil the soaked peas and use immediately. Mum and Nani prefer first method.

**Salt gets added twice. Once to the peas to help them cook and then finally when the potatoes and eggplants are added to the pot.

*** I think this is where I would add frozen peas if using.

****This makes a big batch of curry. Extra curry can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days and/or frozen for a month but the potatoes are a bit watery when defrosted.

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