My friend Anita learnt some of her cooking from a famous chef of Mughlai (of the Mughal kings’ courts in India)food from Lucknow, Sakhawat. Indirectly. Anita’s sister’s cook, Ramdatt had worked with Sakhawat and had mastered the art of cooking Mughlai food. Anita’s sister, of course, picked up Ramdatt’s cooking, writing down a lot of the recipes. It was from her that Anita learnt. So it was indirect but absolutely authentic ! No wonder everything she cooks is so good !
Anita visited us in Dublin along with her husband who is a dear friend of Debashish, my husband. At the first chance I got, I requested Anita to cook something that I had eaten before at her place and loved- a gently spiced, delicious curry of button mushrooms and green peas. Its gravy is white in colour because of boiled onion and almond paste – not unusual for Mughlai food.
Here is the recipe:
2 cups button mushrooms cut vertically into 4 pieces each, 1 cup green peas (fresh or frozen–Anita used frozen ones here), 1/2 cup of whole almonds (you can use finely ground almonds), 1 cup full cream milk, 1 medium onion, sliced, 3/4 tsp garam masala powder (available at any Indian grocery), 1/2 tsp chilli powder (optional or to taste), salt (to taste), 1 tsp sugar.
Put sliced onions in a deep pan. Add 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil and let it simmer till tender. By now the water would have almost dried up.
Put in a blender and grind to a paste (there is a lot of grinding in Indian cooking !)or you can use a mortar and pestle to crush to a paste.
Heat three tablespoons of sunflower oil in a kadhai or wok. Add the onion paste and fry for about 4 minutes . It should be a very pale, pinkish colour. Add the chilli powder. Stir.
Add the almond paste and continue to fry for another 3 to 4 minutes. It should all remain white and not change colour.
Add the milk and salt. Let it come to a boil. Simmer for 2 minutes.
Add the mushrooms and sugar and simmer for about 10 minutes or until mushrooms and peas cooked but peas still retain their green colour. Add the garam masala powder and mix. Remove from heat.
Serve with chapattis or any flat bread or naan .
Unusual and absolutely delicious !
Thank you, Anita, for sharing !
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