Alu matar tamatar is probably the most popular vegetable curry in India. It makes a great side dish and is wonderful on its own, served with simple rice or a chapati.
Every region in India makes this. Which, given that most of the important ingredients are not native to India, is quite remarkable.
The version presented here is typical of Bengali cooking. The Kashmiri version is surprisingly hot and spicy, and does not have peas. In the Punjab it tends to have a more creamy and rich tomato sauce, with the boiled potatoes floating in it. In the southern part of India it tends to be quite dry, and will often use more fresh and dried red chillies. The recipe presented here is meant to be moist, not swimming in sauce.
Potatoes will absorb a lot of the spicy sauces they are cooked in. Frying them, as this recipe does, tends to make sure they don’t absorb the sauce as much as other recipes.
You could substitute frozen peas for the fresh peas, but it will taste so much better using fresh peas. We tend to use small cocktail potatoes that we halve. Peeling these potatoes is not really required.
for the fried potatoes
- 500 g potatoes peeled and cut into 3cm cubes
- 4 tbsp mustard oil
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
for the masala
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 6 curry leaves
- ¼ tsp asafoetida powder
- 1 brown onion finely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 50 g ginger finely chopped
- 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
- 1 tsp cumin seeds toasted and ground
- 1 tsp coriander seeds toasted and ground
- ½ tsp dried mango powder (amchur)
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 tomatoes coarsely chopped
- 2 green chillies thinly sliced
- 150 g green peas
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 2 tbsp coriander leaves
Boil the potatoes in a pan of salted water for eight minutes until just tender, then drain well.
Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan or karahi over a medium-high heat, add the potatoes and fry for five minutes, or until golden-brown. Add the turmeric, toss through the potatoes, and fry for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat.
for the masala
Heat the oil in another pan over a medium-high heat. Add the curry leaves and fry for one minute, then add the asafoetida and stir. Add the onion and fry for five minutes; then add the garlic and ginger and fry for five minutes, or until softened and lightly golden-brown.
Add the chilli powder, cumin, coriander, amchur, turmeric and salt and fry for one minute, then add the tomatoes, green chillies and 100ml water and stir together. Add the fried potatoes, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes, adding a splash of water if anything catches on the bottom of the pan.
Add the peas and garam masala and cook uncovered for three minutes, or until the peas are cooked. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve.