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Quick Pea Curry

A quick easy Indian-style pea curry with tons of shortcuts including a quick blender sauce, and a boatload of healthy plant-based protein, what’s not to like?

Front view of a plate with a little white rice and lots of peas in orange sauce.

Born from a love of matar paneer, no paneer in the house, healthy recipes, family allergies, and a lack of time, I know you’ll love this recipe (unless you hate peas!).

Why you’ll love it

  • It’s really quick and easy enough for beginner cooks to make.
  • It has a simple blender sauce
  • It’s packed with good sources of protein, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats.
  • It’s dairy-free and egg-free so suitable for both vegans and vegetarians.
  • Did I mention there’s no chopping, just a little peeling, and measuring?

Ingredients and substitutions

As curries go, this one is on the simpler side so try to stick to the ingredients shown below, but possible substitutions are shown below the photo.

Labelled ingredients including chili pepper, ginger, peas, coconut milk etc.

Chili pepper: use a long mild cayenne or serrano pepper here if you can get them, not the hotter jalapeños (unless you like it spicy, like me!). If you don’t have any green peppers you can substitute a red one, just know they’ll be a bit hotter. If you don’t have any chili peppers at all try half a teaspoon of red chili flakes or cayenne pepper but know that you won’t get that great “fresh” flavor that you get from raw chili peppers.

Ginger: A necessity in a curry, don’t omit it. If you must, substitute the fresh ginger with one and a half teaspoons of dried ground ginger but know that the flavor will be slightly different.

Onion: This is an important ingredient for the sauce and can’t be substituted.

Canned tomatoes: As you’re going to blend the sauce, it doesn’t matter whether you use whole, chopped, or crushed canned tomatoes here, but do make sure they’re canned, fresh tomatoes contain a lot more liquid.

Garlic: Again, fresh ingredients are key here in such a simple recipe, I only recommend substituting this if you have no other option, for one teaspoon of ground garlic.

Cumin: I use ground cumin here but if you’re using a high-powered blender or processor you could get away with using whole cumin seeds, just increase the amount to one and a quarter teaspoon.

Sugar: Nobody likes added sugar but I promise you in any curry, and especially any pea recipe, it balances the flavors beautifully and is only a tiny amount when divided out among the portions, don’t omit it.

Garam masala: Don’t omit this, garam masala is a powerhouse of flavor. Try to use a high-quality Indian-made one (like the MDH brand) rather than your local store’s version, or make your own.

Top down view of a white plate with rice and peas in orange sauce and green herbs sprinkled over.

Turmeric: I love the color and earthy flavor turmeric adds but if you don’t have it, you can omit this ingredient.

Ground coriander: Don’t substitute this, it’s a vital ingredient in all the best curries.

Frozen peas: I mean, if you want to shell peas by hand you can, but this recipe is all about ease of use. Save your expensive petit pois for side dishes, their delicate flavor will be overwhelmed by the spices, just use standard frozen peas.

Coconut milk: If you want to reduce calories you can use light coconut milk but I don’t recommend it as full-fat coconut milk cooks down beautifully for a restaurant-style gravy., light coconut milk won’t give the same results.

Additions

You can also add paneer (or make my Instant pot paneer makhani), tofu, cauliflower, or 1/2 inch cubed potatoes to this recipe by substituting half the peas and adding the tofu, small cauliflower florets, or potatoes with the coconut milk. Paneer should only be added in the last three minutes of cooking or it will toughen from being boiled, and you can also pan-fry it beforehand for more texture.

How to make it

This is a simple recipe but if you’re unsure of any steps, are feeling a bit lost in the instructions, or want to get a quick preview, check out the detailed instructions paired with process photos below.

  1. Peel the garlic, onion, and ginger. Roughly chop the onion, chili pepper, and ginger into four pieces to make it easier for your blender or processor to manage. Add to a high-powered blender or processor bowl along with the canned tomatoes, ground coriander, turmeric, and cumin.
  2. Blend or process until completely smooth.
  3. Add to a medium-sized saucepan along with the coconut milk and heat on high until boiling. Reduce heat to medium-high to keep at a lively simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Add frozen peas, sugar, and garam masala and turn the heat up high again until the mixture is bubbling, then reduce to a medium-high and cook for a further ten minutes.
Collage showing onions and ginger and tomatoes in a blender, then blended, a white creamu sauce in a pot, then a deep orange one with peas.

Add salt to taste and an optional squeeze of lemon juice. Serve hot over steamed basmati rice.

Equipment notes

What you’ll need:

  • A high-powered blender or food processor.
  • Measuring spoons and cups.
  • A sharp paring knife.
  • A medium-sized non-stick saucepan.

Expert tips

  • If your frozen peas have been there quite a while, have freezer frost, or have been in an open package in the freezer for over a week, then they’ll have dried out a bit and have that classic and unwelcome ·freezer burn taste. If this is the case then add them along with the coconut milk to stew them for longer and mellow the flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I store leftovers?

Tightly sealed (either with a lid or cling wrap) in a container in the fridge for up to five days.

Can I freeze pea curry?

Yes, you can! Just allow to cool to room temperature before adding to a freezer bag or a freezer-safe container. To reheat, then to reheat you can either defrost in the fridge overnight (yields the best results) and reheat on the stove or in the microwave until piping hot, or microwave on full power for three minutes, remove the lid and add three tablespoons of water, mix as best you can then replace the lid and microwave another five minutes, stirring halfway.

Other creamy vegan curries

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Yield: 4 portions

Quick Pea Curry

Front view of a plate with a little white rice and lots of peas in orange sauce.

Quick easy spiced delicious pea curry, a simple healthy vegan recipe ready in under half an hour for any day of the week.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion (2 - 3 oz peeled weight)
  • 1 large green chili pepper
  • 1½ inches fresh ginger
  • 3 - 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 can tomatoes ( 14 oz crushed, chopped or whole)
  • 1 Tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 4 cups frozen peas
  • 1 can coconut milk (13.5 fl oz)
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • salt to taste
  • Squeeze of lemon juice to serve, optional

Instructions

  1. Peel the onion, garlic, and ginger and chop them into a few pieces. Remove the stem and seeds from the chili pepper.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and chili pepper to a food processor or high-powered blender along with the canned tomatoes, and process/blend until smooth.
  3. Add to a medium-sized saucepan and add the coconut milk and heat on high until boiling, then reduce the heat to medium-high to maintain a lively simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add frozen peas, sugar, and garam masala and turn the heat up high again until the mixture is bubbling, then reduce to medium-high and cook for a further ten minutes.
  5. Done! Add an optional squeeze of lemon juice to serve, and pair with steamed basmati rice.

Notes

If your frozen peas are a little old, have freezer burn, or you just don't like a strong pea flavor, you can add the peas earlier on with the coconut milk and stew them longer for super tender ones.

This curry will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer.

Nutrition Information

Yield

4

Serving Size

2 cups

Amount Per Serving Calories 354Total Fat 22gSaturated Fat 19gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 0mgSodium 332mgCarbohydrates 33gFiber 9gSugar 10gProtein 12g

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