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Monday, 25 June 2012

Green Pea Unmentionables


Well, OK, in case you're thinking that you'd love to try some of what I'm smoking, I'll have you know that I don't smoke.
And "unmentionables" is actually very much a "mentionable" and refers, in actuality, to Balls.
So, without further ado - this is a recipe for Green Pea Balls.

Which sounds utterly ridiculous. Not to mention completely unappetising.
Therefore, thus, thereby and hence – I couldn’t possibly call it that, could I?

So, first things first:
There’s no such thing as Green Pea ummm Unmentionables.
Well there is, but they’re not meant to be eaten as such – in Balls format, I mean. They’re meant to be the very legitimate stuffing inside of Green Pea Kachoris.

Now, Kachori’s if you aren’t that familiar with them, are Indian savoury snacks of the very favourit-est kind; our own delightful and much looked forward to version of Elevenses – they are round balls of fried flour filled with stuffing of different kinds – baked lentils, pulses, crushed and spiced gram flour, peas, onions and so on.

Sort of similar to its more famous and better-known cousin, the Samosa. Just rounder. And tastier. Well, at least I think so.

Thus, today’s recipe duly disclaimed, let’s move on to the burning question of the day:

Why on earth (you ask) am I making just the stuffing?
Why Green Pea Unmentionables when one can have Green Pea Kachoris?
Why the part when there’s the perfectly delicious and rounder-than-a-sea-pearl-in-an-Atlantic-oyster, whole?

Why, why and why?

Well, well and well.
I have a reason. A big reason. A big, fat, reason.

And here it is:

As you know, from here - mum’s with me at the moment and she’s making all this unbelievably uber more-ish stuff that I am ingesting at a rather astounding pace (even by my standards). But that’s besides the point. Or perhaps, that is the point.

Because one of the first things out of her mouth within the initial few seconds of setting eyes on me - was how glad she was to finally see “some meat on my bones.”

What??

I think, dear people, that my mother just called me fat.

HMPH.

Course she meant to compliment me. But I can’t see anything complimentary about that horrid statement, can you?

“Meat on my bones?”
Like she’s evaluating a particularly bony sheep to determine if it has enough “meat on its bones” to worth slaughtering for lunch.

And I don’t know about you, but I’m not particularly chuffed about being compared to a sheep. Or any other lunchtime meal for that matter.

And so, for once in my life, I need to get my act together and stop indulging in what I’ve become so expert at. Which is immoral and profligate gluttony. Practice makes perfect, as they say. And I've had tons of practice. And now, I'm a perfectly immoral and profligate glutton.

I knew it, you know. Deep within my heart in a secret compartment not known to mankind – I knew it was bound to catch up with me, sooner or later.
And now it has. Sooner. Not later.

Boo.

So therefore, I am skipping the crisp and crunchy and wonderful delightful fried bread that adorns the green pea stuffing. And just eating Green Balls. Or the Unmentionables, if that sounds more appetising.

Just so I can feel virtous. If only for a day.

I will give you the recipe, of course, so you can make the real thing.
Just because I have to endure such a sorrowful state of affairs, doesn’t mean you need to.

Here’s what you need:

- 250g Peas (shelled)
- 1-inch root of ginger
- 4 small green chillies
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp sugar (yes sugar)
- Salt to taste
- Oil, to deep fry

Right. Now – very important – the peas.
This dish is all about the peas, guys.
See, I’ve always used frozen peas, but my mum (the purist) will have none of it. You see, she’s used to my Gran – her mum – shelling peas by the saucepanload, sitting by the window of her airy Calcutta flat, the cool, salt laden, evening breeze on her face, while she passed the time watching boxing matches on TV.
Really.
She is quite the woman, she is!

Anyway, thankfully, we live in a world of compromise.
And compromise is a beautiful thing.
So, I don’t use frozen peas, I use fresh ones. But I use shelled fresh ones.
Because I’m not in Calcutta.
And I’m not my Gran.
And mostly, because there’s no boxing match on TV!

So, I use fresh peas for the first time, and boy – do they make a difference! Listen to your mums when it comes to food, guys – you may not believe it, but they do know a thing or two! Anyway, my fresh peas are succulent and delicious and full of flavour…especially now that it’s pea season here on the Island! I pop a few in my mouth, they are sweet and delicate – this is British veg at its juicy best!

Here’s how you do it:

Grind together the peas, green chillies, fennel seeds, ginger, salt and sugar. Cook this spiced-pea paste in a pan over a low flame with about two teaspoonfuls of oil. The paste will dry up as you cook it, giving off a superb aroma that will haunt you for many days yet! Once this is cooked, make small green balls by rolling the mixture in the palm of your hands.

Oh and just to get it out of the way because I realise I may have underplayed this a bit - these taste utterly delicious on their own, and that’s how I’m going to eat them and that’s no bad thing. But - I daresay - they taste even better in their shells and that’s how you’re going to eat them!

Here’s what you need:

- 1 cup refined flour
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1/4 tsp salt

Here’s how you do it:

To make the dough, sift the flour with salt and oil and knead using warm water to make a soft dough. When the dough is ready, divide it into as many balls as you have with the pea mixture, making sure they are larger than the pea balls.

Now, make a cup of each flattened dough ball, and fill it with pea mixture. Seal each one tightly, flatten again, and roll them out one by one – preferably (but not necessarily) in a circular shape. That bit I’ll leave to you. And your unstoppable imagination.

:-)

When you’re happy with your artistic and ingenious shape-creating abilities, heat some oil in a pan and deep fry the Kachoris. Go on – do it!

Oh and just a few tips for yeastophobhes like myself on how to get the perfect Kachori (besides practice that is): Roll out the dough as thinly as possible so the Kachori, once done, is light and crisp and crunchy. Also, make sure you seal the stuffing in tightly because you definitely don’t want these things to come apart while frying! I’ve had that happen to me before and cleaning up the mess was enough to keep me out of the kitchen for days. And that never happens. So you can imagine how un-pretty that little story was!

Anyway…I’ll save my kitchen disasters for another time.

For now, this is Green Pea Kachori. It really is a lovely dish – fresh and flavourful and wonderfully invigorating with a cup of tea!

Enjoy it!

(I will too. One day…when my jeans button again!)

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