Vatana Usal – Curry

main ingredients:
  • ¾ cup green peas (Vatana)
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder (lal mirch powder)
  • ½ or 1 tsp garam masala or malvani masala or goda masala
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 medium size tomato, chopped
  • 2 tbsp oil
for masala curry paste:
  • ½ or ⅓ cup fresh grated coconut
  • 1 tbsp unsweeteened dessicated coconut
  • ½ inch ginger (adrak)
  • 3-4 garlic (lahsun)
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds (saunf)
  • ½ tbsp coriander seeds (sabut dhania)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 or 2 tsp oil
  1. rinse and soak the beans overnight in enough water.
  2. next day drain the water and pressure cook the beans with some salt in 2.5 to 3 cups water till they are cooked completely and are soft.
  3. drain and keep the cooked beans aside.
making the masala curry paste:
  1. in a pan heat oil. add the chopped onion and fry till they become transparent.
  2. now add the ginger and garlic and fry for a minute
  3. add the fennel and coriander seeds.
  4. fry for 1 or 2 minutes till the fennel and coriander seeds start becoming crisp or lightly browned
  5. add the fresh grated coconut along with the dessicated coconut.
  6. on a low flame, roast the mixture till the coconut becomes golden browned.
  7. keep on stirring, so that the coconut does not burn. let this mixture cool.
  8. then grind this mixture in a small blender or magic bullet or masala grinder with some water.
  9. heat oil in a pan. add chopped onion and fry till transparent.
  10. add the masala paste and fry for a minute.
  11. add tomatoes and all the spice powders – turmeric, red chili powder and garam masala powder, salt along with the cooked black eyed beans.
  12. stir and add water. bring to a gentle boil without a lid and then simmer for some minutes about 12-15 minutes.
  13. check the seasonings and add the salt or spice powders if required.
  14. once the whole curry has all the flavors blended, then remove from fire.
  15. garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve Vatana usal hot with steamed rice, chapatis or bread.

Everyday Indian Basic Masala

For a working woman it is often difficult to cook everyday meal. I have been facing different challenges everyday. To make things simpler one has to think smarter. Although, you wish to cook everything from scratch all the time, the time does not give you the luxury to. What do you do in such cases? Do half your preparations in your free time to avoid hassle later.

Masala is an integral part of any Indian savoury dish. It is a very generic term ; a mixture of various dry and wet spices. You blend various combinations of it to create different flavours. Following is a basic Masala that you can store in a jar and mix it with any vegetable and some meats. The paste stays fresh for up to 5 days refrigerated and 2 months in the freezer without losing any flavour. This will cut the cooking time by half!! 

If I have tempted you enough to try this Masala recipe let us see what is required and how it is prepared.

Ingredients: Makes 1 cup of Masala

  • 4 tbsp mustard/olive/canola oil (any oil of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
  • 3/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (Add more garlic in case you need that strong flavour of garlic)
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped tomatoes
  • 4 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp red chili powder (If you like your curry hotter add more chilli powder as per your taste)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp amchoor – dry mango powder  (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Keep a cup of water handy. Might need only in case where the masala is getting stuck to the sauce pan


  • In a heavy bottomed pan, add the oil and heat on high up till you see ripples on the surface.If using mustard oil, you will need to heat it till its smoking to do away the raw smell.
  • Reduce heat to medium. Add the finely chopped onion and cook them till golden brown. About 6-8 minutes.
  • Next, add the cumin seeds, minced garlic & ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes till you start smelling the aroma.
  • Reduce the heat to low and add the tomatoes next along with chilli, coriander, and turmeric powder. Cook this masala on low heat till the oil starts separating from the mix along the sides of the pan. About 10-12 minutes. If you see masala sticking to the bottom of pan, add some water. Cook thoroughly to reduce water. This slow cooking is very important to develop flavors and color of the paste, please do not rushAllow the masala to reduce till it acquires beautiful reddish to brown color.
  • Remove the pan from heat and mix in the salt, garam masala & amchoor.
  • Allow the Masala to cool and transfer to jars for storing. 

How to use:

Whenever you want to use this masala for making curry, add the desired quantity of water to it,check the seasoning & bring to a boil. Next add the meats or vegetables, boiled beans, lentils and cook covered or in pressure cooker till tender.

Note: I would suggest you make this masala fresh whenever you get time. It will give far better flavour.

Do let me have your thoughts on this. I would be grateful if you can suggest variations.

Happy Cooking and time saving!!

Fried Modaks

On the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi I made some delicious fried modaks. They did not turn out as good as my mom would make but it was not bad for first timer. Check out this simple recipe.

for the outer covering or shell:
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour or maida (multi-purpose flour) or half and half both
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp warm oil
  • water to knead the dough
for the inner filling:
  • 1.5 cups grated or powdered jaggery
  • 1.5 cups fresh grated fresh coconut or unsweetened dessicated coconut
  • 1 or 2 tbsp roasted sesame seeds (optional)
  • 1 or 1.5 tsp cardamom powder or crushed cardamom
  • a pinch or two of grated nutmeg (optional)


preparing the covering
  1. with the ingredients mentioned for the outer covering, make a smooth dough.
  2. cover and keep the dough aside for 20-30 minutes.
preparing the filling:
  1. mix all the filling ingredients.
  2. cook and stir on a low or medium flame till the mixture is dry and cooked.
  3. keep aside to cool.
preparing & shaping the modaks:
  1. take a small ball from the dough.
  2. roll thinly in to a circle of about 3-4 inches diameter.
  3. gently take this circle on your palm.
  4. now add the filling in the center.
  5. pinch the edges one by one. pinch at least five edges.
  6. bring together all the pinched folds in the center.
  7. deep fry the modaks in medium hot oil or ghee till golden browned.
  8. drain on kitchen tissues.

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