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Monday, October 4, 2010

Batatyachi Bhaaji - Curried Potatoes with Ginger

This is possibly one of the simplest but tastiest potato preparations. It demonstrates the basic principles of cooking any vegetable in an Indian style. A basic "seasoning" or "tadka", followed by the addition of vegetables. And then you can choose to add any spices if you want. This was the very first recipe I made when I learnt how to cook. I remember standing at my mom's elbow and walking through the steps with her. It seemed like a lot to remember at that age (I was about 10 years old) but once you know how to create the initial seasoning, you have learnt the basic principle for Indian cooking and can cook practically any dish.

This potato curry is a very popular dish and is generally made for traditional Maharashtrian lunches or dinners. Since garlic and onions are not used in the dish, this is a popular choice during traditional and religious events. I really love the taste of this dish and make it whenever I want to eat food that takes me back home.

3-4 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and chopped into cubes
1 tsp ginger and green chilli paste
salt to taste
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard/rai seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
pinch of asafoetida
5-6 curry leaves (optional)
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
1/2 tsp sugar
cilantro to garnish, chopped

Coat the boiled, cubed potatoes with the chilli and ginger paste mixture, add some salt and the sugar. Mix well and set aside. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the mustard and cumin seeds. Once they start to crackle, add the asafoetida, curry leaves, turmeric. Stir and add the potatoes. Cook this for a a few minutes. Turn off the heat. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with hot chapatis.

If you pressure cook the potatoes, be careful to take it off the heat after the time required to cook them in your pressure cooker, do not over cook them, else you will end up with mushy potatoes. To make ginger and chilli paste, grind 1 inch of ginger with 2-3 green chillies and a couple of pinches of salt. You can reduce the number of chillies depending on spicy you want your curry to be. Boiled potatoes should not be rinsed with cold water to cool them down. Just drain the water, and keep them aside to cool down before cutting. If they are rinsed in cold water, it may make them mushy, specially if they have been slightly overcooked.

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