Usually I do most of my cooking for the week over the weekend. This is a sensible strategy, except when it isn’t: sometimes grad school stuff piles up, or I’ve made more plans than usual, or I just need a break from the kitchen.
At these times, it’s a joy to enter the weekend with something already batch cooked. I prefer for it to be something that’s versatile enough for me to turn it into lunch or dinner, depending on my mood, something hearty and wholesome, and something so flavorful that I can enjoy the leftovers again and again without getting bored. This weekend, Richa Hingle’s Bombay potatoes & peas have me covered.
I don’t think Richa needs an introduction from me; her blog, Vegan Richa, is one of the most beloved vegan food resources on the web. Richa’s recipes are, in no particular order, accessible, playful, reliable, healthful, colorful, and comforting. Her first cookbook, Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen, taught me so much about authentic Indian food, including how to use carefully crafted spice blends for tempering.
Richa’s new book, Vegan Richa’s Everyday Kitchen, channels some of the same techniques as her first. Once again, recipes are centered around spice blends and seasoning, but in this book the focus is explicitly on sauces.
Richa calls these “awesome sauces,” and she uses them to simmer, sauté, and season creative mixtures of legumes and vegetables. A small sampling of the awesome sauces on offer in the book includes Almond Sriracha Sauce, Buffalo Sauce, Butter Masala Sauce, Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce, Makhani Sauce, Peanut Butter Sauce, Smoky Cheese Sauce, and Tinga Sauce. There are many, many more, each marked with a special “awesome sauce” label.
It’s such a smart technique for organizing a cookbook. Sauces are important in any cuisine, but I’ve always felt that they can do a special amount of heavy lifting with plant-based food, elevating seemingly simple plates of greens and beans and grains to new flavor heights. And Richa is a master of this process.
The book is divided into sections according to sauces and their flavor profiles: peanut butter & coconut, sweet & sour, masala & saag, and buffalo & firecracker. Richa also has some chapters devoted to types of foods, like burgers and pizzas and desserts. I’m always struck by how intentional and precise Richa’s recipes are; you have the sense that they’ve been tested over and over, until they’re just right. And the recipes here are no exception.
What I love most about the book is how flexible it is. Richa suggests making a couple sauces at the start of the week and using them in a number of recipes—either those she’s created, or other simple combinations. She also suggests mixing and matching sauces and the things they’re paired with in her book, and I can definitely imagine that it would be easy to swap, say, her peanut sauce for her butter masala sauce for her Red Lentils in Peanut Butter Sauce, or trade the Spinach Curry Sauce for Berbere Sauce with her Chickpeas and Potatoes in Spinach Curry Sauce.
And it’s worth making clear that the book goes well beyond sauces and stews: it includes such comfort food as Black Pepper Cheesy Mac and Broccoli, Alfredo Spinach Pizza, Easiest Black Bean Burgers, and Salted Date Caramel Pie. (Holy yum to that last one!)
I’m excited to truly dig into all of the recipes, but I wanted to start with something simple, comforting, and and filling. I chose Richa’s Bombay Potatoes & Peas, which are made with whole mustard and cumin seeds, as well as coriander, turmeric, and lots of garlic in a rich tomato sauce. The dish has all of Richa’s flavor-forward, bold fingerprint, but it’s ready in about 30 minutes. It’s a perfect versatile side, easy to pair with tofu or chickpeas, and it’s especially lovely for scooping up with flatbread.
I chose to serve it with my homemade chapatis, quick pickled onion, cilantro, and some of my apple raisin chutney. But I’ve also got a pot of cooked basmati rice ready to go, so that I can serve it that way. I’d also love to try it with my creamy cashew raita. True to her words, Richa’s given me a super versatile, mix-and-match recipe, and I’m grateful to have it.
Bombay Potatoes & Peas
- 2 teaspoons organic safflower or other neutral oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 small red onion finely chopped
- 1 large tomato coarsely chopped
- 7 cloves garlic*
- 1 1-inch [3cm] knob fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala or more to taste
- 3 medium Yukon gold potatoes cut into 1/2-inch [1cm] pieces
- 1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
- 1 cup 240ml water, or more as needed
- 1 cup 160g fresh or thawed frozen peas
- 1/4 cup 10g finely chopped cilantro
- Fresh lemon juice to taste (optional)
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin and mustard seeds. Cook until the cumin seeds change color, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the onion and cook until it is translucent, 5 to 6 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a blender, blend the tomato, garlic, and ginger into a coarse puree. Add the tomato mixture, turmeric, cayenne, coriander, ground cumin, and garam masala to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the puree thickens and the garlic is fragrant, 5 to 6 minutes.
- Add the potatoes, salt, and water. Cover the skillet and cook for 10 to 11 minutes. Add the peas. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for another 10 to 12 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked to your preference. Add additional water if the potatoes start to stick or if you prefer more curry. Add the cilantro and lemon juice (if using).
If you’re ready to welcome some of Richa’s signature sauces and easy plant-based recipes into your life, then I’m happy to tell you that Richa and her publisher are generously offering a giveaway copy of the cookbook to a lucky US or Canadian reader of this blog. You can enter below to qualify, and I’ll be picking a winner two weeks from today.
I can’t think of better comfort food than a hearty bowl of potatoes and peas. I left my batch on the thicker side, cooking it down until it wasn’t at all soupy anymore, and I’ve been loving it that way (easier to scoop up with bread). But it’s easy to add more liquid for something that’s looser and better for pouring onto a hot bed of rice.
No matter how you serve it, enjoy the recipe, and I’ll be back in a couple days with some links.