This dish used to be a Thursday ‘fast’ special. Papa used to (still does) fast on Thursdays, which means he skipped breakfast and a proper lunch. Mamma used to make ghoogni for him and we joined in as well. I think most families from Bengal and Bihar – neighbouring states, they have a lot of food and cooking in common – have fond memories of ghoogni.
The other day a college mate in New York – we were ‘speaking’ after nearly eight years! – mentioned reading
I was trying to get a nutritional value chart or figures on green peas when to my greatest surprise I came across an Indian government website. Imagine my shock to learn that the Food and Nutrition Board, Ministry of Women and Child Development (Govt of India, 2008) has a
Ghoogni/ ghugni (Sautéed green peas salad with Bengali five spices)
Cooked on: Low heat
Accompanimen: A dash of lime juice along with a steaming cup of tea or soup!
Try this with: Soft, white bread or puris
- This is a rather quick and very versatile dish that can be happily modified to suit your taste. With or without spices, the green peas make for healthy eating. There is a Bengali version of the recipe as well as one that comes from Bihar. Some also like making this with minced meat, but we are sticking to the vegetarian version. I shall be making my version!
- It can be made using either green peas (fresh or frozen) or chickpeas. If using frozen green peas, do thaw them (naturally or in the microwave); for using chickpeas it’s a good idea to soak them overnight. I prefer making ghooghni with green peas.
- Today’s recipe only uses green peas, you can add numerous other vegies as well. While technically it won’t be ghooghni; it will make for a darned tasty dish. Just remember that everything has to be finely chopped/diced.
- Vegies that go very well with this dish: Baby carrots, corn (steam them first), baby corn, button mushrooms and potatoes. If you wish to use other vegies, feel free; just remember not to overpower the flavour of the green peas.
- I prefer my ghooghni to be somewhat sweet-n-spicy; however, you can skip the garam masala and simply stick with salt and pepper. It still tastes good! Butter your bread and pile it up with ghooghni or have a bowlful with a steaming cup of chai or even your favourite soup.
- Also, chai in India means tea and not the just the full-of-spice tea that you get in jars in Australia.
Vegetable/canola/olive oil: 1 TBS
Peas: 2 cups, fresh or frozen (thawed)
Onion: 1 big, finely chopped
Ginger: 1 TBS, skin removed and finely grated
Tomato: 2 medium, finely diced
Fennel: 2 TSP (optional)
Red chilli ground: 1 TSP (optional)
Dry mango powder/ amchoor: ½ TSP (optional) OR
Sugar: 1 TSP
Salt: to taste
Black pepper: 1 TSP
Garam masala: 1 TSP (optional)
Lemon juice: 1 TBS (optional)
- Heat oil in a wok/pan with lid. Once the oil is hot, add the fennel seeds and allow to splutter. The fennel is optional; you can skip it.
- Once the fennel splutters, add the onions and fry them till they turn slightly pink. Now add the grated ginger and fry for 3 minutes.
- Next add the salt, pepper, red chilli powder and garam masala and fry for another 3 minutes till the onions are coated with the spice mixture.
- Add the tomatoes and fry till the tomatoes – mashing them with the spatula – till the tomatoes soften and are pulverised.
- Fry the mix for 3-4 minutes till the spices start sticking to the bottom of the wok/pan (but can be easily scraped off). This is your sign that the masala (spice mix) is cooked.
- Finally add the green peas and cook for another 3 minutes till the peas get a ‘shine’ on them.
- Sprinkle a little water, cover the wok/pan and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the lid, sprinkle the amchoor or sugar and fry for 3 minutes.
You’re done! Squeeze some lemon juice and you’re ready to go.
Want to know more about your peas? Here’s where you go.