Vegan Aloo Matar (Curried Peas and Potatoes)

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I went home last weekend to visit my parents and had a delicious Indian dinner. They sent me home with leftovers, of course, and once I ran out I had to make some more. I was sent home with containers of vindaloo potatoes, curried chickpeas, and leeks and greens with coconut milk. The only thing I was missing – have been missing – was saag paneer. Obviously not a traditionally vegan dish (what with paneer being cheese and all, not to mention the ghee), I have only had a couple of cheating bites of saag in all my vegan years. I looked in my fridge at the big container of spinach and decided I must be able to come up with something decent to appease my craving. I threw that together and ate some with the rest of my leftovers (sans paneer – I didn’t have any tofu in the house to sub in for paneer, so it was just saag), but then I was left with a container of saag and nothing to eat it with, so I found some more ingredients to throw together for a meal.

I have memories of eating burning hot bowls of curried potatoes when I was a kid, smothered in cucumber raita in an attempt to cool it off so I could stand it. I know now that my moms were adding more cayenne each time they cooked it, sneakily raising my tolerance to the heat. Successful in their endeavour, I’ve been using their hot curry recipe for years in my own cooking. And I finally have a vegan cucumber raita recipe to whip up for that delicious, cooling sensation.

I found the original version of this recipe at allrecipes.com, but I didn’t have everything it called for so mine is a bit different.

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium potatoes, diced with the skin left on (or peeled if you prefer)
  • 2Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 clove of garlic, minced (or one frighteningly giant one, like I used)
  • 2tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2Tbsp curry powder
  • 2Tbsp garam masala
  • 1 inch peeled, minced ginger
  • 1tsp salt (more if you like)
  • 1 1/2 cp frozen peas
  • 14oz can of coconut milk (I used full fat but light will work too)

Directions:

  • Clean and dice potatoes and bring to a boil. Simmer for 8 – 10 minutes, until tender, but not falling apart. Pour them into a colander and let them steam dry.

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  • Heat oil in a medium saucepan on medium-high heat and add onions and garlic. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent.

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  • Stir in the spices and fresh ginger and cook for another 1 or 2 minutes, until the spices heat up and release their aromas. Add a tsp of oil if the mixture is too dry to mix well.

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  • Stir in the frozen peas and mix well with the onions and spices, then stir in the potatoes. Pour in coconut milk, stir well and let simmer for 5 minutes or so, until peas and potatoes are heated through and the coconut milk is spiced and delicious.

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Serve on rice – I used brown basmati – with a side of cucumber raita if you need to cool it down a little, or if you just love raita. Enjoy!

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