Nimona Recipe (Matar ka Nimona)
Jul 20, 2023
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Matar Nimona reminds me of winters and fresh sweet green peas. Growing up, nimona was made at least 3 to 4 times every week in my house during the winter season when the fresh green peas were in season. It’s a green peas curry where sweet peas are turned into a paste and then cooked with spices, onions etc. This dish is best enjoyed over some hot rice with ghee on top. It’s the ultimate comfort food and one you must make if you can get your hands on sweet peas!
Food always makes me nostalgic, there are so many memories, festivals, celebrations associated with food. One of my favorite childhood memories is going to my nani’s (grandma) village during winters and picking fresh peas from the farm to make nimona. I still remember how sweet those freshly picked green peas used to taste. Nani would make chura matar (a breakfast dish made with poha and peas) or nimona with them.
Table of contents
What Is Nimona?
Nimona or Matar ka Nimona is a seasonal dish which is made with fresh green peas during winters and it is most commonly made in the state of Bihar and eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh. Since, my family is from eastern UP, I grew up eating this dish all the time during winters, it was a staple during December and January.
The reason why it’s made only during winters is because that’s the only time we get fresh green peas. This dish has to be made with sweet peas and in India those sweet peas were available only during winters. Mom never made nimona with frozen peas.
The peas are ground to a paste and then cooked with spices, onions, and tomatoes. It’s like a dal, and some people add potatoes or wadiyan (lentil dumplings) also to it. Most of the flavor in this dish comes from fresh peas and that’s why it’s so important to use fresh peas in this recipe.
Nimona is quite thin in consistency, almost like a soup. At least that’s how it was prepared in my home and I make it the same way. You can definitely adjust the consistency to preference.
Here in the US, I find fresh green peas during the months of May and June at the local farmers market. So that’s the time I make this dish in my house.
The star ingredients of this dish is fresh peas, rest of the ingredients can be region specific.
Fresh green peas: please make this recipe only with sweet peas. Taste the peas first, and if they aren’t sweet, I would not recommend making nimona with them. The flavor of nimona entirely depends on the meethe matar (sweet peas) so you have to use the fresh ones.
Onions & tomatoes: some people use both, some might use only 1 and some might not use either of these two. I have used both onions and tomatoes in this nimona recipe though.
Spices: some basic spices like coriander, garam masala are used. However you can also make this with very minimal spices since this dish is all about the taste of the peas.
Mustard oil: you can use any oil of choice but mustard oil adds to the flavor of nimona.
Potatoes: this is optional, my mom would sometimes add potatoes in nimona and sometimes she would make it plain.
A lot of people use green garlic in nimona as well however I couldn’t find it anywhere so I have used regular garlic.
Don’t forget to pour some ghee on top of the nimona before serving. It’s an absolute must and elevates the flavor of the dish. We never had nimona without ghee drizzled on top!
Step by Step Instructions- How to Make Matar ka Nimona
- Remove peas from the pods. This activity takes some time so get your family involved. Transfer 3 cups (reserve 3 tablespoons whole peas) of green peas to a blender.
- Grind to a paste without adding any water. Traditionally, it was done using a sil batta (traditional stone hand grinder) but since I don’t have access to it, I just use my blender. You don’t need a super smooth paste for nimona, it should be a little coarse. Transfer this peas paste to a bowl and set this aside.
- Now to the same blender add 3/4 cup cilantro, 3 garlic cloves, 1-inch ginger along with 3 tablespoons water. Grind this to a paste as well and set aside. You can also grind a green chili if you like.
- Heat 1 & 1/2 tablespoons of mustard oil in a pan on medium heat. Let the mustard oil heat well until it’s smokey (this step is important while using mustard oil else you will get raw taste). Then add 2 small potatoes (cubed). Cook the potatoes for around 4 minutes on medium heat until they get a little color on them. Remove the potatoes on a plate.
- To the same pan, now add 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and 1/4 teaspoon hing. Let the cumin seeds sizzle.
- Then add 1 medium red onion (chopped) and stir. Cook the onions for 3 minutes until they are soft and translucent.
- Add the prepared cilantro, garlic & ginger paste. Stir and cook 2 minutes and then add 2 small (or 1 & 1/2 medium) pureed tomatoes along with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook for 3 minutes.
- Then add the prepared pea paste. Stir and cook the pea paste for 7 to 8 minutes. Stir often so that the paste doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Keep heat to medium.
- Then add the semi-fried potatoes along with the 3 tablespoons of the whole peas that we had reserved earlier. Stir and mix everything.
- Then add the spices: 1 & 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder, 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder (or more to taste), 1/4 teaspoon turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon salt more. Cook the spices for 1 minute.
- Then add 4 to 5 cups of water, depending on the thickness of nimona you prefer. In my house it was made quite thin and remember it would also continue to thicken as it cools. Stir everything and let the nimona simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Taste test and add more salt as needed. I added additional 1/4 teaspoon of salt here to a total of 1 & 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Once it has simmered add 1/4 teaspoon garam masala. Serve hot with plain rice and don’t forget to drizzle some ghee on top before serving. It’s a must with nimona!
Fresh v/s Frozen Peas
In my house, everyone makes nimona only during winters when it’s the fresh peas season. No one in my extended family makes nimona with frozen peas. So, I do the same. I have made nimona once with frozen peas and it didn’t even come close to the one made with fresh sweet peas.
So, please use fresh sweet peas for nimona. And make sure they are sweet because the entire taste of this dish depends on the sweetness and freshness of the peas.
We always ate matar ka nimona with just plain rice. Take rice on a plate, top with nimona and then drizzle some ghee on top and enjoy hot! However you can also enjoy this with quinoa, couscous, or with roti and aloo bhujia as a side.
- Make sure to serve nimona with ghee. Just a drizzle of ghee on top of hot nimona elevates the flavor and makes it so much better.
- If you skip the ghee, then this recipe is vegan. I would recommend vegan butter to drizzle on top of nimona before serving if don’t want to use ghee.
- Nimona thickens as it cools down. So adjust the consistency accordingly. It was made on the thinner side in my house and I keep it the same way.
- Since we are using mustard oil here, make sure to heat it well before adding anything to it. If mustard oil isn’t heated well, you final dish will have a raw taste.
- To make this recipe gluten free, skip the hing from the recipe or use gluten free hing.
- 3 cups + 3 tablespoons green peas divided, use fresh sweet peas only
- 3/4 cup cilantro or adjust to taste
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 1 inch ginger to grind
- 1 & 1/2 tablespoon oil I used mustard oil and recommend using it
- 2 small potatoes I used gold potatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon hing also known as asafoetida
- 1 medium red onion chopped
- 2 small tomatoes pureed
- 1 & 1/4 teaspoon salt divided, adjust to taste
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 4-5 cups water as needed
- 1/4 teaspooon garam masala
- ghee to drizzle on top
- Add 3 cups fresh peas to a blender and grind to a paste without adding water and set aside. It should be a slightly coarse paste.
- Then blend 3/4 cup cilantro, 3 garlic cloves, and 1-inch ginger to a paste with 3 tablespoons water and set aside.
- Heat mustard oil in a pan on medium heat until it is smokey hot Then add the cubed potatoes and cook them for around 4 minutes on medium heat until they get a little brown color on them. Then remove on a plate.
- To the same oil, now add bay leaves, cumin seeds and hing. Let the cumin seeds sizzle and then add the chopped onion, stir and cook the onions for 3 minutes until they are soft and translucent. Then add the prepared cilantro, garlic & ginger paste and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the pureed tomatoes along with 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for 3 minutes.
- Stir in the pea paste and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring often so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Stir in the semi-fried potatoes along with remaining 3 tablespoons of the whole peas. Stir and mix everything and then add the spices- coriander powder, red chili powder (to taste), turmeric and additional 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook the spices for 1 minute.
- Now, add 4 to 5 cups of water, depending on the thickness of nimona you prefer. We made it quite thin in my house. Stir everything and let the nimona simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Taste test and add more salt as needed. I added 1/4 teaspoon more salt here for a total of 1 & 1/4 teaspoon salt in the recipe.
- Once it has simmered add the teaspoon garam masala. Serve nimona with hot rice with a drizzle of ghee on top.
- Skip ghee at the very end to make this recipe vegan.
- Do not use frozen peas for this recipe. The nimona has to be made with sweet green peas.
- To make it spicy, add more of the red chili powder and also add couple of green chilies while cooking the onions or you can also grind them with cilantro, garlic and ginger.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.