I remember my grandmother podding peas when I was a child. For some reason I do not know, she used to do that in the living room, sitting in her red armchair, and not in the kitchen. I assume she preferred to sit for such a long time in a more comfortable armchair instead of the kitchen chair. I never asked and now it is too late for that. I also remember me helping her with podding when I was still a child. As I turned into a teenager my interest in anything domestic radically reduced, so I stopped helping but “mazare cu pui”, pea and chicken stew remained one of my favorite meals.
Actually it didn’t even have to have chicken inside. I remember my grandma sometimes saying that she couldn’t cook this because she couldn’t afford buying chicken. And I always said that that didn’t matter, I liked the pea stew with or without the chicken.
The pea podding times are long gone now. Not because I wouldn’t like to do it sometimes, it is because I haven’t seen any peas in the pods since I left Romania. In Germany they only seem to come frozen or in cans. Maybe in the big cities, at the market, I might be able to find some, but as the next somewhat larger town is 60 km away from us, you understand that I never think of driving there just in the hope of finding fresh peas.
But luckily I love the frozen peas. I always have a bag in the freezer and I use them a lot, not only to make this stew, but also for all kinds of soups, stews, stir-fries or side dishes, you name it, when I don’t know what else to throw in a pot, I always end up with adding a handful of peas.
I never asked my grandmother for the recipe either, I have a lot of her recipes but not this one. But fortunately my aunt makes her peas apparently the same way, they taste just like they used to do. So I am using her recipe now. The only difference is that she prefers to fry her chicken legs separately. I use either chicken meat from a chicken used to make soup or chicken breast pieces which I cook briefly together with the peas.
- 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 large onion
- 1 very heaped tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 kg/ 2.2 pounds frozen peas
- vegetable or chicken broth to barely cover the peas in the pot
- 450 g/ 1 pound chicken breast (see note)
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- a bunch of fresh dill or chopped frozen dill
- salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar, optional
- Heat the oil in a pot. Chop the onion finely and cook until translucent. Add the tomato paste and stir for 1 minute.
- Add the frozen peas to the pot, cover barely with vegetable or chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes.
- In the meantime chop the chicken breasts into small cubes. Add them to the pan and cook everything for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the chicken is tender. Don't overcook the chicken.
- Mix the corn starch with a few tablespoons of cold water to obtain a paste. Make a little place in the middle of the pan by pushing the peas away as much as possible and pour the corn starch paste in a thin stream while whisking all the time with a small whisk.
- Stir everything very well and let bubble for 1 minute. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper and maybe some sugar. Add the finely chopped dill.
- Serve with mashed potatoes.