Rassa, in Maharashtrian cuisine is basically a dish cooked with a gravy. Having said that, I must mention that there are not many Maharashtrian vegetarian dishes that would come under this heading. Vegetables are prepared most often by steam-cooking or by stir-frying. Very few vegetables are cooked to make Rassa, the most common being potatoes, onions, cauliflower, green peas and tomatoes. (Have I forgotten any?) However, there are quite a few recipes for Rassa with eggs, chicken and mutton in Maharashtrian cuisine, none of which will get to make an appearance on this blog, because I neither eat nor cook meat. I do eat eggs, but that's limited to cakes and muffins.
Moving further with the Rassa, this one is my mother's recipe and a big favourite in the family/amongst relatives. My mother is aware of this, and makes it a point to cook it whenever guests from within as well as outside family are invited over for lunch/dinner. I, too, have managed to impress many a guest at my place with this dish. It has a wonderful, complex flavour of coriander leaves, garlic, green chillis......I think it makes more sense if I just got on with the recipe now. Btw, does anyone of you know where the word 'Matar' for green peas originates from?
Recipe for Flower Matar cha Rassa
½ head of cauliflower or 3 packed cups cauliflower florets
1 cup green peas, fresh/frozen
For the paste:
1 medium-sized red onion
1-2 green chillis (These will be ground into a paste, so it’s better to go easy on them.)
½ loosely packed cup coriander leaves
2-3 fat cloves of garlic or 4-5 medium ones
¼ inch ginger piece
¼ cup green peas, fresh/frozen
1 tsp oil (not necessary, if cooking the onions in the microwave oven; see Step 3)
salt to taste
a few drops of lemon juice (optional)
1 tsp oil
¼ tsp cumin seeds
1. If using fresh cauliflower, cut it into small florets. Put those into salted water and let them stay in it for about five minutes. This will make the worms, if there are any, sink to the bottom of the container. Take the florets out into a colander then and let them drain. Skip this step, if using frozen cauliflower.
2. Steam the cauliflower (fresh/frozen) and green peas. This can be done in a covered pan using some water on the stove-top or in the microwave oven. We don't want to boil the veggies until very soft. They should retain the crunch in them, because we are going to cook them again later. If using frozen cauliflower, cut it now into smaller, bite-sized florets.
3. For the paste, chop the onions and sauté on some oil until soft. This can be done in the microwave oven and without oil. Roughly 1.5 minutes of cooking on HIGH should suffice. If using frozen green peas for the paste, thaw them by either dipping them for a while in warm water or using the DEFROST mode in your MW oven. (Are you getting a feeling that I am a microwave freak?)
4. Make a smooth paste by grinding the cooked onions, green peas and all other ingredients listed for the paste. Please note that adding salt at this stage is important, because the green chillis tend to turn bitter if ground without salt. The Rassa carries a somewhat unpleasant taste then.
5. Now heat oil in a pan. Add cumin seeds and let them splutter.
6. Add the ground paste and fry it only for a few seconds, not longer.
7. Add the cauliflower florets, green peas and about a cup of warm water.
8. Let the curry come to a gentle boil. Simmer it then for 3-4 minutes. Check the taste for salt and adjust the quantity. Please keep it in mind that there is already some salt in the paste.
9. Take it off the heat. Serve hot with rice or chapatis/phulkas and some Raita.
1. The green peas in the paste can be substituted with roasted peanuts. This, too, tastes great. However, the Rassa does not become as green then.
2. Boiled and diced potatoes can be added to the Rassa.
3. Readymade ginger-garlic paste can also be used instead of the fresh ingredients. It should be added at Step 7.
Apparently, cauliflower and green peas are rich in antioxidants. So, let me just send this post over to Sweetnicks for the next ARF/5-a-day event.
Tags: Curry, Cauliflower, Green peas, Cilantro, Coriander