This creamy Indian vegetable side dish is typically called “Badami Sabzi” or literally almond-y vegetables. However, a more suitable translation would be “Vegetables In An Almond Based Gravy”. The ones that go well with this kind of side dish are the hard ones like carrots, French beans, peas, cauliflowers, baby corn which are cooked until tender but crisp. Do not use potatoes in this as a tomato base in a gravy does not go well with cooked mushy potatoes. I also added paneer(cottage cheese) cubes that were fried and soaked in warm water well in advance.
Blend together 5 ripe tomatoes, 2 large onions, 5-6 large cloves of garlic and fat 1 inch piece of ginger to a paste.
Chop 1 onion into thin slices and deep fry them till golden brown in vegetable oil. Pick the onions out with a slotted spoon when cool and blend it to a paste. This is important as it contributes to a smoky sweet flavor.
Blend a teacup full of almonds with a little water to form a paste. This recipe is suitable for vegans as we aren’t using dairy cream.
In a deep casserole or frying pan with a lid, add some oil, about 2 tbsp. Once it begins to smoke, crackle some cumin seeds. It’s important to crackle the cumin seeds to release the flavor.
Add a stick of cinnamon, 2-3 cloves, 3 crushed cardamom pods. Quickly fry them to release their aromas and flavors, but do not burn them.
Now add the tomato paste we made earlier and fry it well till the oil begins to separate. About 5 minutes. Add chilli powder to your taste and 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder. Fry well.
As the paste is frying, quickly blanch the vegetables and add them to this paste once the raw smell of the tomato-onion paste goes away.
Add enough water to cook your veggies and to form the gravy. Say about 2 cups.
Once the gravy comes to the boil, sim the heat and cook covered for 10 minutes. Check if the veggies are tender to your liking.
Add the almond and fried onion paste and let the gravy come to the boil once again.
Stir in the fried and soaked paneer cubes and stir the gravy well to coat all the pieces. Sprinkle chopped coriander(cilantro) and squeeze the juice of half a lime if you want. I skipped the lime juice as I felt the sharpness would cut through the smooth, sublime gravy.
And your almond-y side dish is ready to be served with piping hot, buttery rotis(Indian flat bread).