With the mention of the word ‘dhaba‘ my thoughts immediately turn inwards as fond memories re-surface. The road trips along the countryside & highways where the lush green fields were engaged in a happy dance beneath the bright morning sun.
 
The song ‘Fields of Gold’ by Sting playing in the background only complemented this serene & calming ride.The chirping of the birds were dominant  unlike in the cities. Here by the countryside it is their territory! They flutter about without a care in the world and with the abundance of food available to them and they are as happy as they can be.
 

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As we move further and its nearing lunch time, the sight of small ‘dhabas’ that dot the highways make their appearance..And we just cant wait to stop by one of them to satisfy our hunger pangs while we take in the breathtaking scenery of the countryside..One such dish popular in ‘dhabas’ is the green peas masala. The rich and spicy gravy never fails in ensuring a satisfied meal before hitting the road again! Once back home after the vacation, it is but obvious to crave for lip smacking dhaba food.
 
And so an attempt made in making – Dhaba Style Peas Masala‘ at home. 
 
Now I wonder, what fault did I ever find in these innocent little green vegetable?? For one time,  I was never fond of them..!
 
 
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Few of the reasons that only strengthened my bond with ‘peas’ –
 
*Fresh peas actually do taste good!! All this while I made a mistake of cooking with store bought frozen peas that taste and smell odd after cooking. Buy lots of fresh peas when they are in season, coax them out of their shells and freeze them in freeze-safe boxes.* Fresh peas have a lovely hint of sweet taste that I did not care to notice for a long time..

* They may not come under the category of an ‘exotic vegetable’ but they can be used in so many different ways to dish out exotic, gourmet dishes.. Blend it with just a few other handlful ingredients to a dip or spread to go with baguettes or fresh bread. Fresh peas also make lip smacking soup.

* They are a good source of magnesium, potassium, iron.

* They are low in calories and rich in dietary fibre, aid in energy production.

* They are rich in antioxidants.

* We don`t use dried peas but I heard they too have similar health benefits as that of the fresh ones.

 

 And for those not familiar with ‘Dhabas’ –

Dhabas are quaint, country style mud structure kind of restaurants. The type of seating offered are wooden planks or cots that adds to the rustic ambience.These kind of restaurants are popular in the State of Punjab. Though found in other parts of India, they mainly offer authentic and robust Punjabi delicacies.

Dhabas were mainly started to cater famished highway truck drivers but soon gained popularity among others as well. On tasting fresh- from -the -tandoor rotis or spicy tikkas one can no doubt understand why these dhabas are so hugely popular! The tantalizing taste is simply hard to replicate  at home but one can get close to it with use of proper techniques or even the vessel in which it is cooked!

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Dhaba Style Peas Masala

Green peas curry, cooked in dhaba style!

  • Fresh or Frozen Peas – 1 cup
  • Vegetable oil – 5-6 tsp
  • Cinnamon – 1” piece
  • Onion (chopped – 1 big or 2 medium)
  • Tomato puree (readymade tetrapack – 5 to 6 tbsp)
  • Chana/ chole masala – 1 tbsp
  • Red chilli powder – 1 tsp or to taste
  • Sugar – ½ tsp
  • Salt – To taste
  • Water – ½ cup or as req
  • Coriander leaves – 2 tbsp
  • Ghee/ clarified butter – 1 tbsp
  • Curry leaves (a must! – 2 strands)

Paste 1

  • Ginger – 1” piece
  • Garlic – 5 to 6 small cloves
  • Green chillies – 1 to 2 or as per taste

Paste 2

  • Vegetable oil – ½ tsp
  • Onion – 1 small or half of a med or big onion
  • Whole cashews – 5 nos

For paste 2

  1. Heat the oil and fry the onions till golden brown over a low flame. Keep stirring in between. Remove from heat, cool a bit and then grind along with the cashews. Set aside.

For paste 1

  1. Grind together the ingredients mentioned under Paste 1 to a fine paste.
  2. Heat 5 to 6 tsp oil in a heavy bottom pan/ kadai and add in the cinnamon, cloves, chopped onion. Fry till onion turns light golden.
  3. Add the paste 1 (ginger-garlic-chilli paste) and fry till raw smell goes – about a minute or two.
  4. Add in the tomato puree and fry for 2 mins.
  5. Add the Paste 2 (brown onion-cashew paste) and fry oil separates.
  6. Add the chole masala, chilli powder, salt, sugar. Fry for 1 minute while stirring constantly.
  7. Add in the peas, coriander leaves, some water and cook 3 to 4 mins.
  8. Lastly add ghee and fresh curry leaves. Remove from heat.
  9. Serve hot with rotis, phulkas, naan or simple pulao or ghee rice.

You may add fresh tomato puree instead of the tetrapack ones. If adding fresh, you will need about 4 medium tomatoes. Soak them in hot water (blanch) for 5 mins or till skin peels off easily. Peel skin, discard the seeds and puree in a mixer.
If the peas is a little hard, you may boil it separately for 2-3 mins, drain and then add to the gravy.

 

 

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