Roasted masala green peas: Of food and home-grown philosophers…

For the longest time, I thought there were some foods that could only be bought in shops – it was quite unthinkable to make them at home. Hmmm… come to think of it, for a lot of people I know, that goes for pretty much anything except Maggi noodles – which can be made at home – in two minutes!

The recent ban on Maggi has meant that for all these poor souls, there is simply nothing at all which can be cooked at home… which brings us to the thought… real estate developers should really cash in on this trend and stop wasting precious FSI space building kitchens and stove tops and ceramic tiles and the rest of the hoohaa that you use to sell kitchens – and apartments with! You see, Mr-Real-Estate-Developer-who-makes-fat-profits, these guys are just not interested! Use the space to give them a karaoke bar instead, or maybe just a plain ol’ bar! Watch your profits go higher than that sixteen-storeyed tower you’re building – and pay me royalty for the idea…

But back to normal people who need to make their three square meals a day – ever wondered why they call them square meals when almost all plates you see (except the ones in fancy restaurants which make you bankrupt as you pay for one meal!) are round in shape? We need kitchens and these function – more or less through the year.

Candy (particularly those egg-shaped pastel coloured all-day suckers!) and pootharekus (Andhra rice paper sweet) apart, which I have never seen anyone make at home, I pretty much managed to get past this barrier of making fancy food at home. The food philosophy (I learnt this fancy phrase watching, actually devouring – Masterchef Australia, by the way!) that most of us grew up with was – if anything yummy can be bought “outside”, it is always yummier – and “healthier” (key phrase!) made at home! Even though the evidence piled up on the other side (read the many adventures involving my mother’s living out this philosophy!) the idea was so ingrained in us that we were quite brainwashed!

The one exception that I came across was my friend Viraja, who, despite being a superb cook, always advised me, “Don’t spoil the family  by giving them fancy food at home. If they want it, sell restaurant food for all you’re worth – it’ll save you a lot of trouble. After all, why make it at home when you can buy it outside??”

Today, I realised there are still some fences that I need to jump – in my head! Was munching my way through a packet of virulently green crunchy masala peas when I realised that this is one of those things that we never make at home… despite it being one of my favourites  – the more virulently green, the better, as far as I’m concerned! They used to be sold by bandiwallahs (pushcart vendors) outside schools – for ten paise a pop – a pop being a small cylindrical aluminium container which measured out about half a cup of the delicious crispy toasty, very spicy (fire out of the ears, wipe your forehead, keep a tissue handy kind of fierce spiciness!) little spheres.

And so, here’s a recipe:




  • Frozen green peas – 500 gm
  • Oil – 2 tbsp
  • Salt – 2 tsp
  • Chili powder – 1 tsp
  • Asafoetida – 1/4 tsp
  • Cumin powder – 1 tsp
  • Chaat masala – 1/2 tsp – optional
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Sugar – 1 tsp


Spread the peas out on a towel to dry for about an hour. Pat dry.

Mix all the other ingredients in and spread them on a baking tray lined with paper. They should be in a single layer.

Bake at 350C for about 30-35 minutes, shaking the tray every ten minutes till crunchy and dry (the peas, not the tray!)


Let cool completely and store in a tin. Just eat them plain or serve dressed with chopped onions and tomatoes and a little lime juice sprinkled over the top.

Or, if you own one of those new condos which you’ve bought from the real estate builder whom I’ve been advising, just buy them in a packet and open them!