This is the Mawa Matar Makhana recipe that I’ve grown up with, though we Sindhis call Makhana, Phool Patasha. Mawa is residue milk solid made from drying out whole milk in a large vessel over low heat. It is the most common ingredient in mithai, but the rich, nutty taste it imparts to simple tomato-based gravies made it famous in many shahi rasois. Obviously, due to it being so high in fats, a small helping of mawa matar or mawa mutton with piping hot naan or kulcha should suffice. Dishes with mawa warrant a more regal presence on the table, so we make these dishes on festival days like Janmashtami, Raksha Bandhan or Diwali, when we’re more likely to have guests over. Our traditional Sindhi sev barfi or singhar jhi mithai uses mawa and unsalted sev (the crunchy thin or thick noodle-like snack of chickpea flour or besan used in chaat).
In India, you’ll find three varieties of mawa: Hard mawa (batti), which is used to make Indian peda or ladoos, Smooth sticky mawa (chikna), which is used to make rabri and grainy mawa (daanedar) used to make the milk cakes which are famous in Alwar, Rajasthan. Our local dairy sells chikna mawa, which we use in this recipe. When picking mawa, it should be pale white and firm. It should not smell sour, and should not be discoloured in any way. Coming from a former fat kid, trust me, this tastes amazing. Just don’t OD on it, as too much of it isn’t good for you, and your gym trainer will probably flip if he finds out.
Ghee 2 tbsp + 2 tbsp
Garlic 1/2 tsp, grated
Ginger 1/2 tsp, grated
Onions 2, medium-sized, grated or crushed
Tomatoes 2, medium-sized, chopped and pureed
Salt 1 1/2 tsp
Chilli powder 1 1/2 tsp
Garam masala 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder 1/4 tsp
Shelled peas 2 cups
Makhana 1 cup
Water 2 cups
In a heavy bottomed pan, heat 2 tbsp ghee and lightly fry the ginger and garlic for a minute. Now add in the onions and fry them to a golden brown. Once it has reached the desired colour, reduce the heat to a medium sim and add the tomato puree. Let it cook till the oil begins to separate from the side, about six minutes.
Mix in the chilli powder, salt, turmeric, garam masala and water. Add in the peas and cook this covered over low heat till the peas is tender and the gravy has reduced.
In a frying pan on the side, heat 1 tbsp ghee and fry the mawa in it till it is a light golden-brown . Add this to the peas and cook for a further 7-8 minutes.
In another frying pan, heat the remaining 1 tbsp of ghee and fry the makhanas in it till they are crisp. Top with the makhanas, garnish with coriander leaves, and serve.