Mama’s Punjabi Recipes- Aloo Mutter (Potatoe & Peas Curry)

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This has to be one of the most basic curries made in north India. The one made without the peas is even more basic and is often served with puris at temples or gurdwaras after services. But, although very basic, this classic dish is a great comfort food that reminds you of being back in the rustic villages of the Punjab, especially when it is served with a couple of slices of green mango pickles with the saunf (fennel seed) masala in sarson (mustard) seed oil.
Aloo (potatoes) are the most commonly used vegetable in Indian cuisine, perhaps because they are so readily available to the rich and poor alike, but also because they are satisfying, filling and can be made into many dishes from chaats to samosas to cutlets to paranthas. This dish is easy, simple and quick to make, especially if you are caught in a pinch.
This traditional dish really stands out because it combines the soft texture of the potatoes with nutty flavor of peas. But the real success of this dish is when the peas and cubed potatoes are not mashed up but still stand out individually and the turri (curry) is red and flavorful. It is best eaten, Punjabi style, with hot rotis, though many people also serve it with basmati rice.
The secret to a good dish of aloo mutter turri is in the spices that are used to bring out the flavor in each piece of roti. And also the consistency of the turri, which should not be too thick and especially not thin like water. It should bring out the full flavor of the spices that are then absorbed into the potatoes.


4 medium size aloo (potatoes)
1 cup mutter (peas) – if frozen, do not thaw
2 medium pyaaz (onion) – peeled and finely chopped
2 medium tamater (tomato) – soft ones are best, chopped
4 cloves of lasan (garlic) – peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon adrak (ginger) – peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil
2 cups of water
Spices (to taste): namak (salt), mirch (red pepper), haldi (turmeric), dhania (coriander), garam masala

1.Peel the potatoes and cut them into medium sized quarters. Leave them in a bowl of water so that they do not turn a dark color.

2.Shell the fresh peas and place in a bowl of water. If frozen, do not thaw.

3.In a medium saucepan prepare the masala in a medium frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat, then first add the red pepper to bring out the color and cook while stiring. Then add the onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes. Stir well to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom. When the mixture is slightly brown, add the rest of the spices and stir well.

4.Take the potatoes and peas out of the water and add them into the masala. If frozen peas are used, first put in the potatoes and cook for 10 minutes, then add the peas and stir for 5 minutes.

5.When the potatoes are slightly cooked add two cups of warm water and cover the pot and bring the curry to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for five minutes. Do not overcook the potatoes as they need to be solid, not smashed.

6.Before serving, sprinkle with garam masala. The dish is ready to eat, usually with roti, rice or any variety of bread.



I have seen many women, especially the younger ones, struggle with making atte di roti (wheat flour flatbread) on the tava. They either make the rotis tough or burn them while cooking. Most do not know how to make the rotis fluff up while these are on the tava.

The secret to making rotis that can stay soft even for a whole day is in the amount of water used in making the dough and how the dough in kneaded and then left before being used. If the dough is too soft, the rotis will fall apart, but if not enough, then they will be hard. When cooking, make sure the tava is not too hot after the first few minutes of use. To make the rotis fluff up, after turning them over once, push down gently on one side of the bread to make the hot air rise to the other side. Then push on the risen side softly to force the air to the other side and the whole roti will pop up like a balloon!

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Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur, India before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her mid-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share some of her delectable Punjabi recipes.