Friday, 17 May 2013

War and Peas

Pea Chutney

If I tell you there is one member in my family who thinks I am the best cook in the world but will not hesitate to place a bowl of fresh and tender green  “peas in the pod” above everything I cook or will ever cook, who will you think it would be?

If you overhear me admonishing someone severely for polishing a few pounds of peas in one sitting, leaving a carpet of shells and strings around the seat, who would you imagine to be at the receiving end?

If someone in the house gleefully admires Anne Geddes’ photos and greetings cards with babies in pea pods and has a poster of a pea fairy posted on their PC, would you not think it is one of my girls?

If you see me mercilessly teasing someone about the girl of their dreams, at times crossing the fine line between vivaciousness and viciousness, who is that wretch you would be feeling for?

That “who” my dears, is my husband.  And the green peapod is the “woe” between us pati and patni…

Yes, don’t be shocked.

My husband of 29 years, who I was betrothed to for 11 long lunar logs and who had been my beau for 5 years prior to that, is a passionate pea-phile.

So, how much does he love peas?

Suffice to say that he is prepared to abandon a scrumptious meal I have cooked with a lot of TLC, at the mere prospect of settling down to popping peas.

His best buddies talk of his travels far and wide, from farm to farm in search of fresh peas. His mother has rarely been able to cook with peas until frozen peas became available, for the peas never made it past him.

Tosacno’s, the best (and most expensive) grocers in Melbourne, recognise him as the man who has a nose keener than a truffle pig when it comes to fresh peas.

How else would he know to visit their store on the very day they have the season’s best stock coming in? How else would they be in business if he didn’t decide he needed to buy more, going back everyday until the stocks last?

He confesses his dream job would be “mutter-gushti” – literally “watching pea farms” – but then, methinks the gentleman chooseth to ignore the figurative.

How do I tolerate this aberration, you may ask?

Well, do I mind?

Whether he fills up on peas or shells, it’s no skin off my back. If anything, it saves me effort to cook.

But I unfortunately, I am equally perceptive to peas. Like the princess in disguise who got poked by a petite pea from under twenty thick mattresses, my husband’s obsession with peas piques me.

Not because I am green-eyed.

But because I don’t quite know what to do with bags and more bags of half-eaten peas that I have to dig out of the recesses of the fridge, abandoned as he has moved on in life to a fresh lot; because I am afraid I can’t make another batch of pea shell soup; because I can’t come up with any more recipes for peas (even done the burfi and the halwa; because I am afraid I have now resorted to a pea pogrom by resorting to making things like peas chutney… 

Pea Chutney


1 cup shelled green peas
¼ cup desiccated coconut/roasted peanuts/ toasted sesame seeds (optional)
½ cup fresh coriander
½ tsp grated ginger
1-2 green chillies (or more)           
¼ tsp cumin powder
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp urad dal
A pinch of hing
1 tsp oil         
Salt to taste


Add oil to a hot pan and brown the urad dal. Lightly sauté the peas, green chillies and ginger. Cool slightly and then transfer to a blender. Add the coriander, peanuts/sesame seeds/ desiccated coconut, cumin powder. Grind into a textured paste, adding a little water if required. Transfer the chutney into a bowl and mix in the salt according to taste and the lemon juice.

This chutney goes well with idlis, dosas and other snacks, or happily spreads between sliced bread.

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