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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Creamy Cashew Pea Curry


The Indian name for this dish is Methi Mutter Malai, which I think is perfect since the acronym is MMM and this dish is MMM!

I have never actually had it in a restaurant, only from a pouch. When Adam and I were both students, we would occasionally eat Tasty Bite Indian meals, or other similar pre-made products, we found in the health food stores. They are actually pretty good and very cheap. But this dish is traditionally very indulgent (lots of heavy cream, oil and cashews) and I knew I could design a healthier, better tasting, from-scratch recipe...and I believe I succeeded!

Although it's not traditional for this type of curry, I threw in a head of roasted cauliflower, because in my mind, the more veggies, the merrier, but this addition is completely optional.

Don't be intimidated by it, because most of it is done in the food processor, it is very easy.

Creamy Cashew Pea Curry

1/2 cup unsalted cashews
1 chunk fresh ginger, peeled
4 cloves garlic
1-3 fresh green chilis (optional, if you want some heat)
2 cups plain yogurt (dairy or non-dairy) or 350g pureed silken tofu
300g box frozen spinach or fresh baby spinach leaves

1 tsp olive oil
1 cooking onion, diced
2 tbls ground fenugreek or 1 bunch fenugreek leaves*
2 tbls garam masala
1/2 tsp salt
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup lemon juice

500g frozen or fresh green peas
1-3 cups water or unsweetened/unflavoured almond milk or coconut milk (the drinking kind)**

Throw cashews in food processor and process until they are finely ground. Add ginger, garlic and chili and puree until there are no big chunks. Add yogurt and puree mixture until creamy and smooth. Add spinach and blend until there are no big pieces (this just takes a few seconds if using frozen chopped spinach, which you can add all at once. If using fresh, add a bit at a time, until all spinach leaves are incorporated).

Heat large skillet over medium and add oil. Saute onions until translucent. Add spices and cook another minute. Pour in lemon juice and peas and cook, stirring frequently for about 3-4 minutes. Add cashew/yogurt mixture and water or almond milk, a little at a time (sauce shouldn't be too thin) and simmer until peas are tender, about 10-20 minutes. Serve with brown basmati or regular brown long-grain rice.

*I didn't have time to get to an ethnic market so I could only find whole fenugreek seeds at one of our local grocery stores. These must be toasted and then ground, which I did in my spice grinder. You can also use a mortar and pestle. To toast, place on baking sheet in oven (I actually used our toaster oven) at 350 F for 2-3 mins. Do not walk away because they burn easily! I found this out the hard way and had to throw out my first batch!

**You can use water but a milk makes it even richer.

I have entered this recipe into Diet, Dessert & Dogs' Wellness Weekend for January 10-13, 2013.