In India, winters are mild and the time when we have a whole bounty of vegetables. Carrots and green peas are some of the most popular winter vegetables giving rise to the popular Gajar ka Halwa and several delicacies made with the fresh, vibrant green peas.
When you think green peas, you probably think of the frozen packets from your super market. There is nothing wrong with using them, but who needs them when fresh peas are in season? Shelling the peas from the pods becomes a group task around the kitchen table. As old stories are recounted and commented over, no one notices how many of the peas went into ‘tasting’. A quick blanch is enough to cook these peas, and they are added to almost all Indian dishes right from the humble Pohe and Upama to pilafs and curries.
The green peas kachori I am writing about today is actually a Bengali recipe. Bengalis eat these kachoris for breakfast or brunch served with Dum Alu or potatoes cooked in a thick masala or gravy. This year, I decided to pair the Alu Poshto with this green peas kachori and the combination was awesome.
The typical Mung Dal kachori is heavy on the filling and round shaped, but it is as dense as a dumpling. The Bengali kachori or kachuri is more of a stuffed puri and is rolled out as thin as possible. You might need some practice in rolling these out, but the effort is worth the prize.
Since this is a Bengali dish, I am using Bengali spices, or in one word, Panch Phoran. Just as curry powder is available off the shelf only in the US or the UK, panch phoran is also hard to come by in Pune. I make my own by combining the five spices – mustard seeds, cumin seeds, methi or fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, kalonji seeds – but if you have access to an Indian grocery in the West, I suggest you just buy the Panch Phoran.
I am using roasted, powdered panch phoran for that authentic Bengali taste. Ginger and green chilis add some heat, and that’s pretty much it.
The spices should not overpower the natural green pea flavor or color.
This is a deep fried dish, so adjust your other meals if you are squeamish about eating fried food.
2 cups peas
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 green chili
Salt to taste
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp panch phoran powder
2 cups AP flour
Pinch of salt
2 Tbsp oil
Oil for deep frying
Flour for dusting
1. Grind together ginger, green chili and green peas in a food processor to make a coarse paste. It should be smooth but not smooth as a pureed soup. Do not add any liquid.
2. Heat oil in a pan and add the pea mixture. Add salt and panch phoran powder. Stir well until everything is mixed and peas are half cooked.
3. The salt will draw water out and we just want to fry this out so that the filling is not soggy. There is no need to totally cook the peas since we will be frying it later. In fact, try not to overcook so that you don’t lose the vibrant green color.
4. Take the all purpose flour in a bowl. Add salt and about a spoon of oil. Add water gradually and knead to form a tight dough. Knead until the surface of the dough is smooth.
5. Make small lemon sized portions of the dough. Roll it out in a small circle. Now add a spoon full of filling into the circle, and close it as if forming a dumpling. Roll and press together.
6. Roll out the puris in circles until they are thin. The trick is here is that the rolled out kachori or puri should look green under the layer of the dough.
7. Deep Fry the puris in hot oil until they puff up.
8. Serve hot with Alu Poshto or Dum Alu curry.
The Kachori-Dum Alu combination is a traditional breakfast for the Bengalis. Actually, these just taste great on their own or with some Indian pickles or chili sauce.
This Bengali green peas kachori recipe is slightly tough to explain on paper, but it is worth the effort. I hope you try it out. Enjoy!