What could be more Puneri than the Matar Karanji? Fresh, vibrant green peas, mildly spiced and mixed with coconut, stuffed in a crunchy pastry cover. Once you taste this Matar Karanji, I guarantee it will become your favorite pick-me-up or party snack.
How is the Matar Karanji different from the Matar Kachori? Apart from the different shape, I think that the use of coconut makes it a karanji.
For the uninitiated, karanji is a traditional Maharashtrian sweet, made with sweetened coconut. The Matar Karanji I am making is of course savory.
Maharashtra is a big state and there is a lot of diversity even within the state. Cooking styles, methods and spices/ condiments used differ from region to region. Western parts of Maharashtra like Pune use a lot of sugar in their cooking. The Matar Karanji you get in the market is as sweet as it is hot, almost too sweet. And there is too much coconut and not enough peas, in my opinion. I am adding barely any sugar here. The mild seasonings I am using let the natural sweetness of the green peas shine.
I love green peas! Who doesn’t? I prefer to let the freshness of the peas shine and for this, I recommend using a 1:4 ratio for coconut and peas. That means 1 cup coconut for 3 cups peas. I have actually used a lot less coconut in the recipe here. It depends on how much you like coconut and whether you are using fresh grated coconut or toasted dry coconut. Either will taste good.
Traditionally, green chilies or chili peppers are often used with green peas. I used a simple seasoning of salt and pepper, but used white pepper because it adds a different kind of sharpness. Fresh ginger and garlic were my predominant flavor and it just enhanced the taste of the peas which is what I was going for.
If you have been following my blog for a while, or if you have read my books, you know that I believe Less is More when it comes to Indian cooking. You might see recipes that add tons of spices to this stuffing mixture like ground coriander, cumin, garam masala etc. but I believe in letting a single flavor or two shine.
Matar Karanji Recipe
- 3 cups green peas, frozen or fresh
- ½ - 1 cup grated coconut
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp crushed garlic
- ½ tsp white pepper, ground
- ¼ tsp sugar
- Salt to taste
- 1 Tbsp oil
- For the dough
- 2 cups AP flour or maida
- 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup + water
- Oil for deep frying
- Mix the oil, salt and flour and knead into a dough. Set aside.
- Dunk the peas in water and thaw them. Add green peas, ginger and garlic to a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Most of the peas should be broken into crumbs.
- Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a pan or wok.
- Add the pea mixture to the wok.
- Season with salt and sugar and stir for a minute or so until most of the moisture dries out. Do not fry for too long since this might cause the peas to discolor. Switch off heat. Add in coconut and stir to combine. You can either use fresh grated tender coconut or toasted desiccated coconut. Cool completely.
- Divide the dough into equal portions, about 14-16 with 2 cups flour. Roll out the dough balls into circles, about 4-5 inch in diameter.
- Spoon some filling into the poori or the rolled out dough. Fold over and press down the edges. Crimp the edges with a fork.
- Heat oil in a wok for deep frying. Once the oil is hot, reduce heat. You are going to deep fry the karanji on low to medium heat.
- Add the karanji to the oil and fry until light gold on low heat. This required patience, but the lower the heat, the crunchier your karanji will be.
- Serve hot with ketchup or chili sauce.
Try this Matar Karanji this festive season. Serve it as an appetizer at your party, or serve it as a side dish as part of the meal. either way it is going to be a crowd pleaser and win you high praise.