Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fresh Field Peas, Punjabi-Style

     One of the finest items in local Florida grocery stores is local peas, freshly shelled.  These are called, variously, "white acre peas", "zipper cream peas," "black-eyed peas," or "green field peas."  They're all delicious, but I get tired of cooking them with onions, tomatoes and olive oil.  So I experimented with my Indian spices and came up with this gem.  Served with quinoa, it's an irresistible breakfast, lunch or dinner. 
     Turmeric and ginger, by the way, are powerful anti-inflammatory foods, and turmeric is purported to have anti-cancer properties.  
     Be sure to rinse and drain quinoa three times before cooking, to remove natural saponins (which imbue a bitter taste and inhibit absorption of nutrients).

2 large yellow onions, chopped coarsely
10 cloves garlic
1 hot pepper (serrano, cayenne, Thai...)
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled
2 small tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup water

1/2 cup sunflower oil
3 Tbsp mustard seed
4 lbs fresh peas/beans, washed
8 cups water
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp salt
2 tsp turmeric powder
4 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp fresh, chopped cilantro

Place onions, garlic, hot pepper, ginger, tomatoes and water in blender or food processor and puree.
Heat oil in an 8-qt pot.  Stir in mustard seeds and cook until they pop and crackle.  Add peas and sizzle for 5 minutes.  Add water, pureed onion mixture, spices, salt and butter.  Cover and cook on medium heat for one hour or more, until peas are soft, stirring occasionally and adding more water to keep peas from sticking..  Stir in cilantro and serve with a dollop of thick yogurt and a mound of quinoa or brown rice, and a chopped green salad with onion.

How to Cook Quinoa

Quinoa is a grain high in protein, magnesium and iron.  It originated in Peru and was a mainstay for the Incas.  It is less expensive bought in bulk, and must be rinsed and drained three times before cooking (use a fine-mesh strainer to drain).  It cooks in minutes, making it a convenient fast food accompaniment for beans or stir-fried greens.

3 cups quinoa, rinsed
4 1/2 cups water
1 tsp salt

Place all ingredients in a pot, cover, and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down and simmer10 minutes.  Turn the heat off and allow the pot to sit for 5 minutes.  Fluff and serve.

How to Cook Brown Rice

3 cups brown rice 
6 cups water
2 tsp salt
(1 tbsp fennel seeds)
(1/2 cup raisins)
(2 tsp cumin seeds)

Wash rice.  Place all ingredients in a 3-qt pot and bring to boil.  The optional ingredients add flavor and interest.  Cover, turn heat to very low, and cook without taking off lid for 45 minutes (short-grain rice) or 60 minutes (long-grain rice).  Turn off heat and wait 10 minutes.  Serve.


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