December 05, 2022
Visiting my nani's home in Chandigarh, I lived for this curry made from dehydrated soya nuggets. Whenever the fancier dishes were made, served, and exhausted and that new visitor shine dulled just a bit, we got the homestyle dishes. For me, this was the food I lived for. My youngest massi is a master with this dish. It was always super brothy, flavorful, and perfect over plain, basmati rice. You may have seen these nuggets at an Indian grocer and picked them up and not really known what to do with them. Now you do! The recipe below is essentially the same as my matter paneer recipe that I've given you before, but the prep of the soya nuggets is different. They must be soaked and squeezed first. Like in mattar paneer, you can add peas and most people do, but I actually prefer thinly sliced green beans. It's a little different and elevates the dish a bit as well. And, not to worry, the folks in your home that think this dish is a little strange with the soya nuggets may just come around. My husband never grew up eating this dish in his own Indian-American home and balks every time I make it. The last time, though, it was so good he actually told me he'd try it again. Soya nuggets are a fantastic low-fat low-calorie alternative to paneer and even easier to use than standard tofu, which you need to either fry or bake before adding to an Indian curry. You can find soya nuggets at any Indian grocery store and more and more at other ethnic grocers as well. If you can't find them, replace with any dehydrated soy product. Please stay tuned, I'll have a recipe this week that makes this from scratch for those of you who don't have access to our Punjabi Masala - pinkie promise!
Stovetop: Soya Nuggets with Our Punjabi Masala
Makes 5 1/2 cups
1 cup dried soya nuggets
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (canola or grapeseed) or ghee
1 pinch hing (asafoetida) (optional)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 black cardamom pods (optional)
1 2-inch long cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 - 4 Thai or serrano chiles, stems removed and thinly sliced
½ cup very thinly sliced green beans
1 cup Indian As Apple Pie Punjabi masala
2 tablespoons unsalted tomato paste
2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves crushed in hand to release flavor (optional)
1 tablespoon garam masala
2 teaspoons coriander powder
2 teaspoons red chile powder or cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon salt
4 cups water
2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
1. In a roomy bowl, soak the soya nuggets in ample hot, boiled water for at least 1 hour. Once soaked and the water cools, take a small amount of the nuggets at a time and squeeze out the water. Discard this water and set the nuggets aside. The nuggets will expand and become slightly spongy.
2. In a deep, heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
3. Once the oil is hot, add the hing, cumin, cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon. Cook for 1 minute until the seeds sizzle and turn reddish brown.
4. Add the onion and fresh chiles. Cook 1 minute until the onion browns slightly. Turn the heat off.
5. Add the soya nuggets, green beans, Punjabi masala, tomato paste, methi, garam masala, coriander powder, red chile, salt, and water. Stir. Substitute or add any vegetable including frozen peas, potatoes, tomatoes, or parsnips. Just be careful not to add too much – this dish should be very brothy.
6. Turn the heat to medium-high until the mixture boils, then turn the heat down and simmer partially covered for 20 minutes. Turn the heat off, cover the pot completely and let it sit for 2-3 minutes. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick and the cardamom pods or leave them in for flavor and eat around them. The other spices, including the cloves, are edible. Garnish with cilantro and serve with basmati rice.
Here's a digital card for this recipe. Feel free to download it and add it to an album in your phone to have whenever you head to the grocery store or need to reference back.
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