January and February are the months when the markets in Tamil Nadu receive the freshest of the so-called English Vegetables. As a child I used to look forward to these months when we used to have peas and cauliflower very often in the menus. The peas are luscious and the cauliflower is so creamy white and crisp. In Palayamkottai (my hometown) Rich Peas Pulav and Muttai Cauliflower used to be prepared every week. My mother had a collection of recipes using these vegetables. One of the favourites was meat cooked along with peas, cauliflower, and, of course, potatoes that are always combined with meat.
I have followed my mother’s recipe very strictly except that I added sombu (aniseed) to enhance the flavour of the masala. I have also pressure cooked the meat, which my mother didn’t (because she didn’t have a pressure cooker at that time).
This dish provides very good quality protein from the beef or mutton used. The vegetables provide a small amount of protein, fibre, and carbohydrates. This is a protein rich and medium energy side dish. If you have used mutton, the fat content will be slightly higher.
For Pressure Cooking the Meat
- 500g Beef Cubes/Boneless Mutton Cubes
- 2 T diced Onion
- 10 Garlic Cloves
- ½ tsp Pepper Corns
- ¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1 tsp Salt
For the Fry
- 3 large Potatoes, pared and cubed
- 1 C shelled fresh Green Peas
- 1 medium Cauliflower, broken into small florets
- 1 medium Onion, diced
- 1 tsp Salt
- ¼ C Vegetable Oil
- 2 sprigs Curry Leaves
- ½ C Coconut Scrapings
For Broiling and Grinding
- 4 Dry Chillies, seeds removed
- 1 tsp Coriander Seeds
- 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
- 1 tsp Sombu (Aniseed)
- 1 ½ tsp Pepper Corns
- Pressure cook all the items listed under ‘For Pressure Cooking the Meat’ for 30 minutes. Reserve stock.
- While the meat is cooking, lightly broil individually the ingredients listed under ‘For Broiling and Grinding’. Cool and powder in a mixie/blender.
- Grind the coconut scrapings along with the broiled and ground spices.
- Boil 1 cup of water with 1 teaspoon salt. Add the potatoes and simmer till almost cooked.
- Add the green peas and boil for a few minutes.
- Add the cauliflower and toss. Boil till half cooked. Reserve stock, if any.
- Heat the oil in a large kadai or wok.
- Add the onion and fry till translucent.
- Add the ground masala and the stock from the cooked meat and the vegetables.
- Boil while continuously stirring till the oil separates.
- Add the cooked meat and stir till all the pieces are coated with the masala.
- Add the boiled vegetables. Stir. Adjust salt.
- Cook till the gravy is almost dry.
- Add the curry leaves, stir once and remove from heat.
- The vegetables are added to the boiling water in stages to account for their different cooking times – potatoes take the longest so they are added first, followed by peas and finally cauliflower. The cauliflower should be crisp when bitten after cooking.
- The masala should be fried till the oil separates to ensure that there is no raw flavour and also so that most of the water has evaporated to create a final dry product.
- The coriander and cumin seeds give a very strong flavour if they are broiled till brown, therefore they should only be lightly broiled.
- Care should be taken to broil the dry chillies very very lightly or else the strong emissions will make your mucous membranes suffer.
- The ingredients are broiled individually as each has to be broiled to a different extent to obtain the best flavour.