If you’re in the holy city of Varanasi on a beautiful winter day, go find Nimona. Look for it in the small eateries or make friends among locals so they can offer you this gorgeous green curry. Scoop it out with a puri or paratha and pop it into your mouth. Take in the deliciously fresh fragrance and sweet after-taste of plucky green peas. Aah, so comforting! Sorry khichri, you have competition!
What is Nimona?
Chef Anup Gupta, Executive Chef at The Gateway Hotel Ganges, Varanasi, gives us the lowdown on nimona. “This green dish is green peas or Matar ka Nimona. It is prepared and eaten widely in North Uttar Pradesh. It’s especially popular in Banaras, where it is believed to have originated because the locals wanted to eat something seasonal, prepared without onion and garlic,” says the chef.
Makes sense since winter’s harvest of fresh green peas is keenly awaited. “The beauty of this dish lies in its simplicity. Winter peas are tender and sweet, and those are exactly the flavours that take centerstage in this preparation. It also takes an important seat in Satvik offerings—no onion nor garlic, but plenty of ghee and flavour promise a good dish. The secret ingredient in this case is the hing that enhances the essence and sweetness of the peas,” adds Gupta. This versatile dish can be relished with paratha, chapati or rice.
And that’s not all, he’s shared his reliable Nimona recipe with us.
Recipe for Nimona
Serves 4; Cooking time: 30 minutes
- 1 cup green peas, mashed
- 2 potatoes, chopped
- 2 tablespoon desi ghee
- 4 tomatoes, chopped
- 2 to 3 green chillies, cut
- 1 tablespoon ginger, cut into one-inch long pieces
- A pinch of hing (asafoetida)
- 1 teaspoon jeera
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- ¼ teaspoon deggi mirch powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 whole red chillies
- Salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon fresh coriander, finely chopped
- Peel and wash the green peas. Make a coarse paste of the peas and keep it aside in a bowl.
- Next, de-skin the potatoes. Wash well and cut them into small cubes. Set aside.
- After washing the tomatoes, blend it into a smooth paste.
- Cut off the stems of the green chillies and then wash them. Peel and wash ginger. Grind the ginger and green chilies to a fine paste.
- Heat some desi ghee in a frying pan. Toss in the potato cubes and fry until they turn golden-brown. Remove the fried potatoes from the pan and keep it aside.
- In the leftover oil in the pan, throw in the red chillies, jeera and hing. After the jeera is roasted and begins to splutter, follow this up with ginger and green chilli paste.
- Pour in the tomato paste and stir for a few minutes. Season with turmeric powder, coriander powder and Deghi mirch powder. Sauté till the spices seem granular and ghee starts to float on top.
- Throw in the green peas paste into the mix, and stir fry for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the fried potatoes, followed by water according to how thick or thin you want the Nimona. Sprinkle salt according to your preference. Allow it to come to a boil, and further cook it for another 7 to 8 minutes.
- Garnish with roasted jeera powder and some chopped fresh coriander and give it a final stir to combine well. Matar ka Nimona is ready.
- Plate the dish in a bowl, and enhance it with a few sprigs of fresh coriander and a drizzle of desi ghee.