Just 2 evenings ago coming back home I realized it was quiet late, there was hardly anyone in the street, it was chilled night, that’s the thing about winter nights, it wasn't even that late, 10.45! I was all alone, walking as fast as I thought I should, and then something happened! I reached home and I had company with me…
A kilo of fresh green peas!
Yeah, sorry for shattering your ongoing imagination dear reader, but that’s the truth, well as it turns out there was this man near the train station, selling his last heap of green peas and because it was so late in the night n he has to run back home also, he gave it to me as fast as he could. So there I was with a heap of fresh green peas looking at me and I just knew what to do with them. Fried flat bread stuffed with a paste of flavored green peas…yum-mm….
Next day when I got myself ready to cook again, I started to get the pods out of their green shells, as I kept doing that I could smell the slight sweetness they have. If you just eat them raw, which many people do, you will find them softly sweet, the fresh crunch and the flavor of the green peas. And this flat bread thing that I was gonna do I have eaten this before many times, it is a favorite in this time of the year; people usually have it as a snacks in the evenings and mornings with potatoes in light gravy. It is a traditional Bengali/Indian dish, perhaps eaten for many hundreds of years. In the region of Bengal they are known as “Karaisutir Kachuri” and in the Hindi speaking regions it will be “Hare Matar ki Kachori”-which is flat bread made from all purpose flour, stuffed with a paste of the peas, then rolled flat with a rolling pin and deep fried. It tastes delicious and it reflects the season so much. Green peas comes fresh in the months of the winter in India, so out of the many ways the peas makes its way into our palate, these kachuris are one of the celebrated ways. Often they are eaten in get-together, in small and big celebrations like birthday parties, marriages.
I will tell you how it really feels special when you eat it, there is this slightly crunchy outside of the flat bread because it has been deep-fried and then as you bite you get to the green core of the bread, as it spreads in your mouth, you begin to taste the subtle sweetness of the peas, the flavor of the masalas (spices) and the peas still mingling in your mouth. Now does that not make you hungry! I am already! Writing in detail has its own effect on me.
These kachuris are best eaten with something light, perhaps lightly flavored potatoes in gravy. If you eat it with something intense, which you can, the flavor of the kachuri gets overpowered by that. So if you really want to enjoy it, choose something light, even beaten creamy yogurt seasoned with salt n sugar will be just fine.
I should tell you this sweet reader that “Kachori/Kachuri” are flat breads stuffed with something and then deep-fried, in this case stuffed with a paste of green peas.
A flat-bread without a stuffing and deep-fried will be called a “Puri/Luchi”
I do have childhood memories of eating this, I can still run those scenes and the whole experience runs in my head. It was my elder sister who is fond of cooking started cooking this in frequent winter evenings; I remember how the evening air in our home used to be heavy with the aroma. Every day after coming from college she would start cooking something special and delicious for the evening. Most of the evenings I spent were in the green fields with my friends playing cricket and football, and coming back home it was my time to smell the air and find out what is cooking in the kitchen and then dig in like a hungry panda. Some evenings I watched her cook, she used to knead the dough, cut the potatoes…it was those evenings that has memories of this kachuri stored in them and I can only access them when I remember it deeply or when I make the kachuris myself. It is yesterday once more. This is my own version.
The recipe: you will need
For the paste of peas
300 gms of green peas in their shell, then separated
1 tbsp of butter
1tsp of shahi jeera (long cumin) or cumin seeds
5 Methi ( fenugreek) seeds
½ broken dry red chili
1 pinch of red chili powder
1/1 ½ tsp of Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp of sugar
2 pinches / ¼ tsp of Hing ( Asafoetida)
3 tbsp of water
1 tsp of soy bean oil/olive oil/sunflower oil.
For the dough
200 gms all purpose flour
1 tsp of flavorless vegetable oil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp powdered sugar
½ tsp baking powder
About ½ cup water (lukewarm, though not necessary)
Let’s begin with the dough, sprinkle the salt, sugar , baking powder and oil in the flour and mix well, then make a well in the center, add some water and mix the flour from around the well, keep adding water a little part and mix well until all the dough comes together. Don’t add a lot of water in the beginning or at one time, add a little water and let the flour absorb it all, then if you think it needs more water, add a little more. A time will come when the dough will just come in one rough lump; at that point there is no need to add more water. Knead the dough for 4 mins, sprinkle some water with your fingers in between if you think it needs, after 4mins the dough will become smooth. Pour 1 tsp of oil on top the dough, spread it with your hands, cover the dough and leave it for half an hour.
While the dough rests we will prepare the peas. In a shallow frying pan place the butter and 3 tbsp of water, the pea pods together, place the pan on medium flame, cover it. After 2 mins you will see steam is coming out of the pan, reduce the flame to low and give it about 4/5 minutes. After that take those off the pan and in the same pan add 1 tsp of oil, as the oil gets hot add 1 clove, shahi jeera/long cumin/cumin, methi seeds, and dry red chili. Give those 30 seconds in low flame and then add 2 pinches of hing powder, add the peas, mix well. Give them 1 minute, then add sugar, then salt to taste and a pinch red chili powder, lastly add the Worcestershire sauce in the pan, mix well. Take it off the pan and take out the broken dry red chili, then put into a small blender and make a paste of them while they are still hot. For the paste we need almost smooth texture, let the paste cool off.
Now we have to put both of them together. Take the dough and roll it on a wooden board with your hands until it becomes elongated in long cylindrical shape. Now tear out small balls of dough from that which are around 1 ½ inch in diameter, flatten each ball lightly with your palm. Now when we are done using the whole dough making the balls, take out your rolling pin and start with one ball. On a wooden or smooth surface, rub the working surface lightly with oil, place one ball and with the 3 longest fingers in your palm together, press the ball lightly, and spread it lightly. Now with the rolling pin just roll the ball only slightly so that it just spreads just a bit, take it up in your hand, now take 1 tsp of the pea paste and spread it almost in the shape of a flat disc with your thumb in your other hand and place it in the middle of the flat ball dough. You will see the corners of the dough are clean while the pea paste sits in the middle, imagine a small circle of pea paste inside the big circle of the dough, now start pulling up n pinching the dough around the disc together while pressing down the pea paste as you do so, it will become natural as you start to do so. When you have pinched and collected all the dough around the pea paste together, hold that dough, pull it slightly and twist it a bit. Remember how they make the Chinese dumplings! Then place it on the wooden surface again, press it lightly with your fingers until it looks like a rough circle, keep pressing with your fingers lightly as u spread it a bit, work lightly always, the action of your hands is as important as the action of the rolling pin. Now with the rolling pin roll it lightly into a rough circle until it is about 4 inches in diameter. Prepare all the balls like this into flatten breads.
So now it is time to heat the oil for deep frying, so in a deep wok or in your deep fryer heat any flavorless vegetable oil, I used soy bean oil around 4 cups. Heat the oil until it is quite hot, then reduce the flame to mid low, before you put the whole flatten bread into the oil, test it by dipping only a little part of the bread into the hot oil, it should begin to give off little bubbles and you will hear the sound of slight sizzle after 2/4 seconds. Now place 1 flat bread at a time carefully, give about 1 minute on both sides, as you place the flat bread in hot oil you will see it will drown first and the sides of the flat bread will start to bubble first, after about 10 seconds it will start to float up, that time lightly press with a slotted spoon in the middle of the flat bread and keep pressing lightly, you will see it will begin to puff up, after 1min, turn it over and again lightly press in the middle, give it 1minute, what we need the flat bread gets light brown all over. When it has got nicely light brown all over take it off carefully and then put a new one in the oil. Finish all the flat breads like this. We are doneJ
So now just dig in, it is best eaten warm, enjoy it with a cooked potatoes in light gravy or with yogurt or just on their own when you can truly appreciate their flavor. Enjoy eating dear reader…Let me wish u Bon Appétit.