Category Archives: Everyday Subzis

Delish Mint-y Potatoes

I love the sheer simplicity of this dish as I much as I do the dish itself. Which, luckily, is one that the girls and Shri like a lot too. Noor, in particular loves it and her eyes light up when I say I’m going to make this for their lunch box for school!

This is another dish that I learnt to make from the young chef in the kitchen of our farm stay in Sikkim some months ago. In addition to the dish itself,  I was so glad to learn the little trick he told me about adding the salt to the oil, instead sprinkling it over the potatoes. That surely makes a subtle but important difference to the taste.

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Here’s how he made it –

Mint-y Potatoes (for 4-6)
5-6 medium sized potatoes
a handful of mint, washed, dried and chopped fine
2 tablespoons of oil
salt to taste

Pressure cook the potatoes or cook in boiling water. Allow to cool, then peel and cut them in to large chunks. Take care not to over do the cooking, as you want chunks that are firm to the touch rather than soft or crumbling.
Now warm the oil in a shallow frying pan large enough to hold the potatoes in a single layer, and add the salt to it. Let the salt turn color to a very light brown. Now add the potato chunks and the mint together, and saute together till the potatoes start to acquire a slightly crisped look and color. Take off the heat and serve while still warm, ideally.
These potatoes are great by themselves, or with paranthas. A light dish, and there’s so much flavor here from the mint that is not obscured by any spices. I might even serve this as a side dish with a big leafy green salad.

Achari Aloo

Deep-fried potatoes, simmered in a rich, thick yogurt-based sauce flavored with a blend of spices that will bring the taste of a tangy, spicy pickle to mind.

Achari Aloo

That restaurant-menu-style description is in fact an honest and accurate description – though I say so myself ! – of the dish I made for dinner last Sunday, when I adapted this recipe for Achari Paneer to cook with potatoes instead of with paneer.

Indira had been asking me to make the latter for several weeks because she loves to eat the sauce part of it with rice, skipping the paneer that she does not like at all, unless the paneer is home-made in which case she obliges me by eating a piece or two. But making paneer at home is something I’ve become really lazy about now that I can buy it so easily in a store. So I’d been putting off the making of the dish itself due to this.

And then, in a moment of rare inspiration earlier that week, I figured the recipe could as easily be used for a potato dish. So that is what I ventured to do on Sunday, and was rewarded by some very delighted reactions all around. Though Noor thought it quite spicy, so I’ll have to remember to skip the green chillies altogether next time; in any case the sauce that is the star of this dish has lots going on even without that particular flavor.

The only change I made from the original recipe was this- instead of paneer, I chopped potatoes in to large chunks (after they’d been peeled, pricked all over with a fork, and then soaked in cold water for about an hour; they say the potatoes will absorb less oil on frying and cook better after this treatment) and deep-fried the pieces in hot oil on medium heat till they were a nice golden brown color all over. This also cooks the potatoes only just enough so that they will not end up too soft and mushed up when they’re cooked in the sauce.

To finish cooking the potatoes- make the sauce, toss the fried potato chunks in it gently to coat them all over, add water, cover the pan, and simmer the potatoes in the sauce till done, stirring gently once in a while to prevent the sauce sticking to the bottom of the pan as it thickens.
I served this dish last Sunday with Maharashtrian masale bhaat ,since this was the other recipe I’d wanted to try out for a while,and a cucumber-tomato-onion-green bell pepper koshimbir on the side. But this dish would be equally great with pooris or paranthas.

Lauki with Panchphoron

Novairah said in her mail a couple of days ago that my posts here have become like “Eid ka chand” and that reminded me that I’ve meant to file away here Ma’s recipe for lauki ki subzi because the girls love this vegetable when it’s cooked that way. I’ve always loved eating this subzi and missed it all these years in France where it was not available except at those Asian stores which we went to very rarely. So I am quite pleased that they’ve taken to it and that they prefer it when it’s cooked the way I’ve always liked it too. Make it with or without the touch of milk – it creates a subtly rich taste –  either way it’s the combination of paachphoron and tomato that give this subzi it’s yumminess and great color.

1 medium-sized bottlegourd (lauki) i.e about half a kilo, peeled and diced

1 small onion, peeled and chopped fine

1 medium-sized tomato, peeled and chopped fine

1/2 a teaspoon (or a little less) of freshly grated ginger or 3-4 small cloves of finely chopped garlic

1/4 teaspoon each of turmeric powder and kashmiri lal mirch powder

1/2 a teaspoon of coriander powder

1/4 teaspoon or less of mustard, fenugreek and nigella seeds with 1/4 teaspoon each of cumin seeds and fennel seeds

salt to taste

2-3 tablespoons of sunflower or safflower oil

2-3 tablespoons of partially-skimmed/half-fat milk

Warm the oil in a pressure cooker, then add the five-seed combination that makes up paanchphoron in the sequence described here.

Add the onions and sauté till they begin to turn pink. Add the ginger and fry for a few seconds. Now add the bottlegourd pieces, turn over once to coat with the oil, then cover the mouth of the cooker with a lid and stir-fry the vegetable for a few minutes till it starts to soften a little and acquire a translucent look. Now add the turmeric powder, the red chilli powder and the tomato and mix everything well, then stir-fry- turn over gently each time so as not to smash the vegetable pieces as they soften – till the tomato cooks down and quite soft; the oil should just about start to appear on the sides by this point.

Add the salt and the coriander powder and cook for another minute. Then add the milk – if you want – along with about 1/3 of a cup of water , mix well and pressure-cook the subzi till there are two whistles from the cooker.

Garnish with freshly chopped green coriander for an extra dash of flavor.

This is perfect with hot phulkas.

Enjoy !

Another one of Atto’s -Bhutte Ka Kees

The first time I had this was at Atto’s, when we visited her once at tea time. I loved the taste and tried to make this dish a couple of times when we got back that year from India. I remember that didn’t work out so well, and I haven’t made it since.

Then last week, when we were discussing Indori food specialities with Vishal, Shefali, Pooja and Venu, they mentioned this dish and remembering how much I’d liked it when I had it in Atto’s home, Idecided to give it another go.

Here’s the recipe, which has inputs from Ayesha who is an Indori too.

2 corns on the cob

1 and a 1/2 tablespoons of oil

1/2 a teaspoon of mustard seeds

1/4 of a teaspoon of hing

5 -6 curry leaves

1/2 a teaspoon of garlic paste (optional, Atto says not)

1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric powder and kashmiri red chilli powder(or one -or two- green chilli chopped fine)

1/2 cup,or a little less, of milk

salt to taste

Scrape the corn off the cob and chop finely in the food processor. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the mustard seeds. When these splutter, add the curry leaves. Fry for a few seconds and then add the garlic paste and the spices and fry for 1/2 a minute. Then add the corn, season with salt, stir everything together and cover and cook for a couple of minutes. Now add the milk and cook the mixture, keeping the pan covered, till all the liquid has evaporated and the corn starts to take on a dry appearance. The mixture will need to be stirred and turned regularly to keep it from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan.

This makes a nice snack, with a little lime juice and some grated coconut or sev for garnish.

A culinary milestone

Shri has said several time in recent months that he wants to learn to cook. So this evening I asked him if he’d be willing to make the gobhi ki subzi for dinner tonight as I was feeling quite sleepy and tired already at 6pm,  because I stayed up late last night to watch “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”.

He agreed very readily and we eventually had a very tasty gobhi-matar-tamatar ki subzi.

He was very patient with my instructions related to cutting the cauliflower florets – I tend to fuss about the way and the size – and I was very impressed with the speed and proficiency with which he chopped the tomato !

Here’s looking forward to seeing him in the kitchen more often, dishing up our meals 🙂

Palak Paneer

The addition of paneer to palak masala creates this more elaborate dish.

This is one of Noor’s favorite subzis – she loves to eat it with phulka and lots of yogurt to mix in to the spinach- and this is what we had for dinner tonight, with some daal and carrot salad on the side.

I usually make a little more than we need of the spinach and the daal, as the leftovers are great for kneading the dough for the next day’s phulkas.

Palak Paneer

4 tablespoons of sunflower oil

400 grams of frozen spinach leaves

2 medium sized onions, chopped fine

2 medium sized tomatoes, chopped fine or 4 tablespoons of canned tomato pulp

1 or 1 and a 1/2 teaspoons each of ginger paste and garlic paste (or equivalent amounts of freshly grated ginger and garlic)

1/2 teaspoon each of turmeric powder, kashmiri chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder

3 pods of green cardamom, cracked slightly (optional)

salt (about 1 and a 1/2 teaspoons, or to taste)

2 teaspoons of melted ghee

100-150 gms of paneer cubes

Defrost the spinach leaves. When they are at room temperature chop them fine  in a food processor.

In a large frying pan, heat the oil, then add the cardamom pods. When their aroma starts to spread, add the onions and fry till they start to go from a golden brown to a darker brown – but not longer than that. Add the ginger and garlic pastes, fry for a couple of minutes, then add the tomatoes (or pulp). Fry this mixture till the oil starts to appear on the sides. Add all the dry spices next and fry for a minute. Add the pieces of paneer and fry for a minute to coat them well. Add the spinach now, season with salt, and cook, covered, till it is soft enough. A minute before you take the pan off the fire , add the ghee and mix it in.

Curried Potatoes aka Rasedar Aloo Tamatar

Shri loves this potato curry – he calls it aloo shak, which is probably an Indori name for it since he talks fondly of having eaten this many times in the sarafa bazaar of Indore – with puris and if he had his way this is what I would make each time we have friends over for a meal.

Yesterday, for dinner with Vishal and Shefali’s family, we had this curry with palak puris.  And it was so pleasing to see Twisha and Vayun enjoy the carrot salad I had made to go with the aloo-puri as much as Shri, Indira and Noor do.

Curries Potatoes/Rasedar Aloo Tamatar

600 gms of potatoes (enough for 4-6 people)

300 gms of tomatoes or an equivalent amount of canned tomato pulp (about 6 tablespoons)

4-5 tablespoons of oil

1/4 teaspoon each of the ingredients of paanchphoran – mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, nigella seeds and fenugreek seeds

1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder

1/2 or 3/4 teaspoon of coriander powder

1/4 teaspoon of kashmiri red chilli powder (or to taste)

2 small cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped fine

1 teaspoon of kasoori methi and/or 1/2 a teaspoon of garam masala (optional)

1 large dry red chili (optional), broken in half

salt to taste

fresh, green coriander,chopped fine

Leave the tomatoes in very hot water – freshly boiled – till their skin comes off easily.  Then drain and leave aside to cool.

In the meanwhile cook the potatoes, till they are soft, in a pressure cooker. When the cooker has cooled a bit, open the lid, drain the water, take out the potatoes in a colander and leave aside to dry and cool.

Peel and chop the tomatoes in to very fine pieces.

When the potatoes are cold, peel them and dice them in to small pieces.

In a large frying pan, heat the oil and put in the  red chili, the mustard seeds and the nigella seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the fennel seeds, fry for a couple of seconds, then add the garlic and fry for a few seconds till the garlic loses it’s raw look. Now add the cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds and fry for just another couple of seconds else the fenugreek seeds can burn and will develop a bitter taste.

Add the tomatoes next and cook on medium heat till their juice starts to dry up. Then add all the dry spices and fry for a minute or so, till the oil starts to appear on the sides of the mixture. Now stir in the kasoori methi and fry for another few seconds.

Add the potatoes, along with salt. Fry for a few minutes till the potatoes are  well-coated with the tomato mixture.  Then add about 2 cups of water and simmer the curry for a while till the gravy is as thick as you like (add more water if needed). Once way to ensure the curry is well-done is to let it simmer, stirring occasionally, till the surface starts to acquire a rich red color/glaze.

Garnish with green coriander , if you haven’t used kasoori methi.