Kitchen Table


In Vegetarian India (Knopf, $45), Madhur Jaffrey shares recipes she collected from friends and family, shopkeepers, writers, designers, farmers and weavers.

Matar ki Ghugni

2 tbsp olive, peanut or mustard oil
½ tsp whole cumin seeds
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
1-3 fresh hot green chillies, finely chopped
¼ tsp ground turmeric
2½ cup peas, parboiled and drained if fresh, defrosted under running water if frozen
1 medium waxy potato, boiled, peeled and cut into ¾ inch dice
1 tsp salt or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

Put the oil in a medium, preferably nonstick pan and set over medium heat. When hot, add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle for 10 seconds. Add the onions and stir fry for about 5-6 minutes or until the onions are soft.

Add the ginger, green chillies and turmeric and stir for a minute. Add the peas, potatoes, salt and pepper and stir for 2-3 minutes, sprinkling with a little water if the peas get too dry.

Palakoora Vepadu

1 lb 2 oz spinach, well washed
2 tbsp olive or peanut oil
¼ tsp whole cumin seeds
3 cloves garlic, peeled, 1 halved lengthwise and 2 finely chopped
4-5 whole fenugreek seeds
6-7 fresh curry leaves, lightly crushed in your hand
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp peeled and very finely grated fresh ginger
Generous pinch of ground turmeric
½ tsp ground coriander
¼ -1 tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp salt

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Drop all the spinach into it. As soon as the leaves have wilted, drain them in a colander and run cold water over them until cool enough to handle. Squeeze out most, but not all, of the water by picking up balls of spinach and gently pressing them between your palms. Chop the spinach coarsely and place in a bowl.

Put the oil in a medium, preferably nonstick pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, add the cumin seeds. Let them sizzle for 3-4 seconds, then add the halved garlic clove. Stir once or twice. Add the fenugreek seeds and a second later, the curry leaves (take care, as these will splutter). Quickly add the onions and reduce the heat to medium low. Stir and sauté for 5-6 minutes or until the onions become soft and begin to pick up a little colour at the edges.

Add the ginger and chopped garlic. Saute for another minute, then add the turmeric, coriander and chilli powder. Stir for a minute. Now add the chopped spinach, any accumulated liquid in the bowl, and the salt. Stir and sauté gently for another 8-10 minutes to allow all the flavours to meld.

Sabut Masoor

1 cup whole red lentils (sabut masoor)
¼ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
1½ tsp olive or peanut oil
Generous pinch of ground asafoetida
¼ tsp whole cumin seeds
2-3 dried hot red chillies
1 good-sized shallot, peeled and cut into fine slivers
Butter (optional)
Lime or lemon wedges (optional)

Wash and drain the lentils. Place them in a medium saucepan, add 4½ cups water, and bring to a boil. Skim off the froth from the surface and add the turmeric. Stir, cover partially and simmer gently for an hour. Mix in the salt.

Put the oil in a small frying pan and set over medium heat. When hot, add the asafoetida.

After a few seconds, add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle for a few seconds.

Add the red chillies and fry until they darken, then quickly stir in the shallots. Fry until the slivers turn a rich reddish colour and become crisp.

Tip the contents of the frying pan over the lentils and cover immediately to entrap the aromas. Stir before serving, adding about two pats of butter (if you wish).

Serve with lime wedges on the side, if using.