Mama’s Punjabi Recipes: Gajjar Mutter (Sauteed Carrots And Peas)


Punjabis loves carrots in several ways: as a sabzi (dish) with mutter (peas) or methi (fenugreek) or wadiyan (spiced dumplings); stuffing in paranthas or sweet as in halwa (pudding) or even in achaar (pickle). In North India, carrots can be found in many colors and shapes, mostly black, red, orange and white, each of which have their own taste and cooking methods. For example, with black carrots, you can make kanji, a fermented drink made for the festival of Holi.

We have all heard that carrots are good for your vision since they have a lot of Vitamin A. They also contain almost no starch but have 7 per cent free sugars, which make them high in calories. People frequently drink carrot juice but it’s not a very good option for diabetics as it gets converted to glucose very quickly and can cause a spike in the blood sugar. But carrots are very nutritious in many other ways and can be eaten in moderation.

As a Punjabi dish, carrots are not usually cooked alone; there is always an accompanying ingredient to balance out their sweet taste, as well as the right blend of spices. One of the most common accompaniments are mutter (peas) which are used in many Indian dishes in one form or the other as a complement, but seldom as the main dish.

Peas are prized for tenderness in bringing a gentle texture to aaloo (potatoes), briyanis (rice palaos), paneer (cheese) or khumbhan (mushrooms). They are even used as fillings for samosas (fried pies) and kachoris (fried balls). This gajjar mutter dish is sautéed with no sauce, so a nice curry dish would make a good complement for a meal.


500 gm gajjar (carrots)
200 gm mutter (green peas) – frozen or fresh
1 large pyaaz (onion) – peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of lasan (garlic) – peeled and finely chopped
1 small piece of adrak (ginger) – peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil
Spices (to taste): namak (salt), mirch (red pepper), haldi (turmeric), dhania (coriander) powder, garam masala


1. Peel the carrots, cut off the tips and stalks and chop into 2 cm wide disks. You can also cut into short stems if you like, but the chips have less sharp edges. Place in a wide bowl, wash them and let them soak in cold water.
2. If the peas are fresh, shell them, wash and place in a separate bowl in cold water. If the peas are frozen, then let them thaw out first before using.
3. Prepare the masala in a medium saucepan. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat, then add the onions, ginger, coriander and garlic. Stir well to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom. When the mixture is slightly brown, add the salt, pepper and haldi and stir well.
4. Drain the water from the cut carrots and the peas and throw them into the masala. Stir well to coat for 2 minutes over medium heat. Cover and let the carrots cook for 5 minutes. If the peas are fresh, then let them cook a little longer.
5. Check to see if the carrots and peas have become tender, stir and let cook for another 5 minutes over low heat.
6. Stir and leave uncovered for a few minutes. Before serving, garnish the dish with garam masala.


One of the main complaints about cooking is the preparation it takes, and especially for Indian vegetarian dishes which require cleaning and cutting many vegetables and ingredients. Often, many people will resort to using powdered herbs and spices in order to save time, but what they miss is the natural aromas and flavors that the fresh ingredients bring.

So, it is best to have some of these items ready ahead of time, when you do have some spare time. Ginger is one of the must spices for Indian food and fresh roots are readily available at many stores. When you have time, peel and cut the ginger in small pieces and store it in a covered container in the fridge. That way, whenever you are cooking, you have fresh ginger available for the dish.

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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 (since renamed Faisalabad), 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.