Basic Indian Recipe: Kerala Spiced Peas

I have a secret love affair with peas. Yes, I love them in their fresh-from-the-pod form, but during the winter months, I use their frozen cousins. I spice them in my favorite manner, similar to a dish I had in Cochin, Kerala, in Southern India, and eat them up with a large spoon, stopping only for a quick bite of naan or dollop of raita.

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This dish is a perfect accompaniment for something hearty like a braised meat or stewed lentils because of its decided spice and bright lemony flavors. It's dishes like this that I feel best about having up my sleeve, because a plate of these peas can turn even a bowl of pasta into a trip down the backwaters of Kerala. I love being transported by food. I would argue it's one of the best ways to relive exciting journeys or entice yourself into an unknown locale by making some of the country's fare.

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Do you do this? Travel with your palate into unknown cuisines? I'd like to make more of a habit of it. For now, I'm happy with a simple recipe great for a weeknight dinner. Taking a familiar ingredient and dressing it in South Indian flavors? A wonderful idea!

Kerala Spiced Peas

serves 6

2 tablespoons ghee (ghee is clarified butter and imparts a unique flavor here)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 green thai chili, minced (more if you like it really spicy)
1 onion, sliced
One 1-pound bag frozen peas
2 tablespoons fresh ginger
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste
juice from one lemon
cilantro (optional garnish)

In a large skillet, heat the ghee on a medium-high heat. When ghee is hot, put the cumin seeds, mustard seeds in the pan and stir for about 1-2 minutes, until seeds start to pop. Place the coriander, cardamom, chili and onion in the pan and cook until onions begin to sweat, about 5 minutes. Add the peas, ginger, garlic and salt and pepper to taste.

Stir continuously on a high heat for about 3 minutes, until the peas cook through. Finally, add the lemon juice to peas and serve garnished with cilantro.

Related: Spring Recipe: Lemony Spring Soup with Peas & Rice

(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)

Per serving, based on 6 servings. (% daily value)
Calories
44
Fat
4.6 g (7%)
Saturated
2.7 g (13.3%)
Carbs
1 g (0.3%)
Fiber
0.3 g (1.1%)
Sugars
0.1 g
Protein
0.3 g (0.6%)
Cholesterol
10.9 mg (3.6%)
Sodium
1.6 mg (0.1%)