Matar alu tarkari (Vegetable and cheese stew)
This recipe is a staple in my house, and ‘The Hare Krishna Book of Vegetarian Cooking’ offers a lovely beginner’s version to start from.
Hint: You can cook it without paneer/curd and it’s just as delicious. I don’t always have paneer on hand, but this recipe works well either way. I also find that by cutting the potatoes and paneer smaller, it cooks more evenly, and the texture is more appealing.
If you are vegan simply replace the curd with tofu, the sour cream with vegan sour cream, and the ghee (clarified butter) with olive oil.
“In France, many Krishna devotees are expert cooks, but Kishori is the best. She often cooked for Srila Prabhupada in India. Srila Prabhupada especially liked matar alu tarkari. In fact, he told Kishori that he could eat it every day.”
2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
2 cinnamon sticks, 3 inches (7.5 cm) long
½ teaspoons ground cardamom seeds
3 bay leaves
6 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 lb (450g) fresh peas, shelled
1 teaspoons turmeric
1 ¾ cups (425 ml) water
6 medium-sized tomatoes, washed and quartered
1 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
¼ teaspoons grated fresh nutmeg
½ teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup (150 ml) sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander or parsley leaves
¾ cup (100 g) almonds, lightly toasted
8 oz (225 g) paneer, cubed and deep-fried
Put the ghee or oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When it begins to smoke, toss in the cloves, cinnamon sticks, ground cardamom, and bay leaves. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds, then put in the potatoes. Fry them for 5 minutes, frequently scraping the bottom of the pan with a spatula, until they are lightly browned. Add the peas and turmeric. Stir once, pour in the water, and cook for 10 minutes with the pot covered. Then add the tomatoes, along with the grated ginger and nutmeg, the sugar, and the salt. Stir to mix, and cook covered for 5 more minutes.
Now fold in the cream, the coriander or parsley, the almonds, and the fried paneer cubes. Remove the whole spices. Heat for a few minutes before serving.