Thursday, 27 September 2012

Less is more- more or less!

Matar Karanji

Whether you are hosting a party or attending one, why do only the most delicious snacks never seem enough to go around? Is it because they are tastier when made in smaller quantities when the maker can pay better attention to the quality and taste factor? Or is it that they are walloped by all and therefore disappear faster?

Whatever it is, it’s the sorriest sight to see hosts and organisers running around helter skelter when the cry of “We’re out of samosas, pooris, or rice, or gulaab jamuns!” goes out…

The guests also join in in the melee, not really to be of help, but to help themselves and stock (hoard?) whatever they can lay their hands on onto their plates!

One cardinal rule of entertaining, ingrained on my mind by a great and enthusiastic cook of a mother and a husband who is generous to a fault, is that food should be offered in sumptuous, “bharpoor” quantities. It’s all right even if you cook way more than is consumed, but the food should not run short. Even if it means we eat the left overs for a few days or even weeks depending on if the food can be frozen.

A more graceful option in this part of the world where you generally don’t have live in domestic help to clear and wash up and to share the spoils (pun intended), is to have all the guests happy to take home a box of something they have liked. 

So in that short window between finishing dinner and serving dessert, some furious activity that resembles a fishpond at feeding time takes place. The take-away plastic containers come out, guests pick and choose what they want and boxes are packed and stacked in plastic carry bags with labels or markers!

But then the main question doesn’t get answered. How much should one cook?

Is it OK to fall just a little short and wait and watch everyone even out and adjust within the spread laid out?

Or is it better to prepare more by way of abundant caution and then worry as to how to dispose of it?

Or is it smarter to make it just a little short, so everyone tantalised remembers how they loved your dish, but could have done with a little more?

I have experienced this with the matar karanjis prepared by some students one Diwali over 9 years ago. These delectable calzones were decimated in minutes by piranhaesque guests at the party!

I remembered their taste as if it was just yesterday - and recreated the magic recently at a dinner I hosted.

I ended up making enough and more and packing some for the guests!!  

Matar Karanji

For the pastry

1 cup plain flour
½ cup semolina
2 tbsp oil for shortening
Salt to taste

For the filling

1 cup frozen peas
1 small potato, boiled and mashed
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp (or more) finely chopped green chilly
1 tsp garlic and ginger paste
1 tbsp chopped coriander
1 tbsp grated fresh coconut
Dry mango powder (amchur) to taste
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin-coriander powder
½ tsp haldi powder
1 tbsp chopped cashews
Salt to taste
1 tbsp oil
Oil to fry

Making the pastry

Mix the ingredients for the pastry into a smooth and firm dough. Keep covered for 30 minutes. Just before making it, give it a good knead- I use the age old technique of pounding it with a pestle or rolling pin! Make into equal sized balls and keep aisde.

Making the matar stuffing

Heat oil in pan and add the onion, garlic-ginger paste and chillies and sauté the mixture. Add the haldi powder and the green peas. Mash the peas while sautéing them. Now add all the spices and the coriander. Add the mashed potato and salt to taste and mix well. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Making the karanjis

Roll out the balls of dough into pooris and place a tablespoon of the matar mixture on it. Fold the poori to form a gujiya/karanji/calzone shape. Press the sides together and make impressions on the edge with a fork to crimp the sides. Make sure the stuffing sufficiently fills out karanji. Prepare all karanjis and fry them in medium hot oil until golden brown.

Serve with a chutney or sauce. I served it with a green tomato chutney.

My blogger and Facebook friend Suranga Date writes poems inspired by various sights and thoughts she comes across during the course of the day in her blog   Strewn Ashes. She often writes delightful and insightful poems in Marathi and English based on my posts (and those of other bloggers)! She has written this lovely poem titled The yin, the yang and the yum based on this recipe! Enjoy! 


  1. Been there, done that! Relating to the "bharpoor" food on the table...Mukta

    1. : ) there is no cure to this 'bharpoor' syndrome- though with time, one learns to manage it!

  2. Lovely recipe, I saw ur recipe pic on KKKMKTon FB, I am going to try these surely :)!

    1. Thank you, Anamika! Do try the karanjis- you could even bake them! I would love to know how you liked them...

  3. hmmm one more thing i haven't cooked in long you have any tips for baking it? I don't have experience of baking indian goodies..always end up with bad result....
    Please remove the captcha option

    1. You should be able to bake it using puff pastry!
      Gotcha about catcha!


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