This is a long story. Sit tight if you want to read it or go to the recipe part. Whatever you do, I won't mind at all. I came to this country just like many other Indian women. As a wife of a H-1 visa guy on H-4. There are too many restrictions when you are on H-4. You can't get a SSN, you can't work. If I were not working in India, I probably would have been fine when I came to this country. But, having worked there and having been busy all the time, I lost my mind when I had to sit at home and there wasn't much to do at home either. Come to think of it, I didn't have a car, so I couldn't go out anywhere either.
I tried watching TV to pass time. But, being new here made me not follow the accent very well. On the top of it what should a person who is used to bollywood songs and movies do when there is no such thing on the TV?
I didn't whine or feel sad. I started making my adjustments. I watched 'Matlock' religiously (they were repeats of course, but not for me - I still like Andy Griffith a lot), I watched 'Golden Girls' , 'Full House', 'Murder She Wrote' and the list goes on. Then there was of course studying for GRE, but I should say I found peace in the kitchen. I used to cook so many dishes every day that my husband had to literally ask me to stop cooking so much for the obvious reason. Both of us were growing wider. This dish is one of those dishes that I stumbled upon at that time and started making it regularly. It is simple, quick and filling and most importantly delicious.
One Year back - Whole Wheat Tomato Scallion Bread
Basmati rice - 2 cups
Green Peas - 2 cups (frozen or canned or fresh)
Oil - 4 TBSP
Bay leaves - 2
Cloves - 4- 5
Cinnamon - 1" stick
Cardamom - 2 whole
Black pepper corns - 8 - 10
Cumin - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Turmeric - a big pinch
Red onions - 4 small or 2 large sliced into 1" strips
Tomato - 2 medium quartered
Green chillies - 12 - 15 or to taste
Ginger - 1/2" piece peeled and chopped coarsely
Cilantro / Coriander leaves - roughly chopped generous 1 1/2 cup
Mint leaves / Pudina - 3/4 cup
Rinse rice very well. If using frozen peas or fresh peas, mix washed rice with it and use enough water to cook the rice. If using canned peas, just cook rice and keep the peas for adding later. Basmati rice usually takes 1 1/2 cups of water to a cup of rice, but it does differ based on how old the rice is. Cook in a pressure cooker with a pinch of salt added. When cool, fluff with a fork. Set aside.
In a pan, heat oil. When hot, add bay leaves. When they are toasted, add cinnamon, cloves, cardamom,black pepper, cumin. When all the spices are toasted, add chopped onions. Sprinkle some salt, turmeric and mix well and let it cook.
Meanwhile take tomato, ginger, green chillies, cilantro and mint leaves in a blender and make a puree. Do not add any water to it. When onions are done, add the paste and mix well. If you are using canned peas, drain, rinse and add it now to the pot. Mix well. It will start leaving some water and when most of the water has evaporated, add the rice or rice and peas mixture and mix gently. Check for the salt and adjust if necessary. Serve warm or cold. This tastes best after a few hours of making. Serve with raita or plain yogurt or as is.
You can add any vegetable to this.You could also add garlic when you are grinding the paste. I didn't since this was for the lunch box and I didn't want the smell at work. Roast some cashews and garnish the rice with it if you like.