A reader had asked me (a while back, I admit) if I knew the recipe for a subzi he once tasted in Rajasthan. Gordon described it as an "amazing dry curry made with wonderful red carrots and green peas" that, he added, was very simple but so flavorful.
I will confess I am not an expert on Rajasthani cuisine. I had a school friend, Seema, whose family was Marwari and who'd often share her delicious lunches with me, but other than that my only exposure to food from this vibrant state was when I traveled to Jaipur a few years ago for a truly memorable and wonderful trip punctuated by some sad memories of elephants and camels carrying heavy loads of tourists up and down steep mountain roads.
But the idea of a peas-and-carrots curry flavored with Rajasthani spices stuck in my mind because it sounded so delicious, and I was eager to give it a try.
I googled up Rajasthani spice mixes and came up with this recipe for a Rajasthani garam masala that was very different from the garam masala recipes I'm used to. I tweaked it a bit to add some more spices commonly used in Rajasthani cuisine, like fennel seeds, and came up with a flavorful mix that I thought would be perfect with peas and carrots.
I am not sure if my subzi is anything like what Gordon had in mind, but it was definitely very simple and very flavorful. If you'd like a dry, spicier curry, leave out the coconut milk I added at the very end just because I wanted a slightly runny curry to eat with the missi rotis I made, also a Rajasthani favorite. And definitely leave out the dill because I'm not at all sure that's an herb typically used in Rajasthani cuisine. I love dill, but this dish is definitely super-delicious even without it.
Try it, and hope you enjoy it. Also, if anyone knows of a Rajasthani Peas-Carrot Curry recipe that's authentic, do write in and share!
Peas-Carrot Curry with Rajasthani Spices
2 large carrots or about 12-15 baby carrots, cut into small pieces (I used baby carrots so i just chopped them into rounds)
1 cup green peas (I used frozen)
1 medium onion, diced
2 tsp Rajasthani garam masala (recipe follows)
1/2 to 1 tsp paprika or other red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil
1/4 cup coconut milk
Chopped dill or coriander for garnish
Heat the oil in a skillet.
Add the onion and saute over medium heat until the onion softens, but doesn't brown, about 5 minutes.
Add the carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are quite tender. Now add the peas and stir well to mix.
When the peas are cooked, which will be pretty soon if you use frozen, thawed peas, add the powdered spices. Stir well to combine. Add the salt.
If using coconut milk, add it and turn off heat. Garnish with dill or coriander leaves, if desired.
Serve hot with any bread. It goes great with Missi Roti, the recipe for which follows.
Rajasthani Spice Blend
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp ajwain seeds (carom seeds)
1 black cardamom pod (these are large and tougher-looking than regular green cardamom pods)
Roast the spices on a dry skillet over medium heat, about five minutes or until the spices turn a few shades darker and fragrant.
Grind to a powder in a spice grinder and store in an air-tight container.
1 cup whole-wheat durum flour (use regular whole-wheat flour if you don't have this)
1 cup chickpea/garbanzo bean flour (besan)
1 tsp Rajasthani garam masala powder (recipe above)
1 tsp paprika or any red chilli powder. Adjust to your taste
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Add water slowly and knead into a stiff dough. Set aside for about half an hour.
To roll the rotis, pinch off a ball about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Roll between your palms to make a smooth ball. Now roll into seven-inch rotis on a floured surface.
Heat a cast-iron or other griddle. Place the roti on the griddle and when it starts to bubble up, flip over and cook on the other side. Brush the surface or spray it with a little oil.
Flip over one more time after golden-brown spots appear on the underside. Cook another minute or so until done.
Serve hot. These rotis stiffen and crisp up as they cool down and I love them that way.
Happy Holidays, all, and enjoy the long weekend!