Aloo all the way

This tandoori aloo remains miles ahead of any fancy baked delight

WHEN we were young and living in the hills of Uttar Pradesh, good-old potatoes were the staple in the winters. The challenge for mom was to provide variety improvising on the alu theme. One dish that never disappointed was ghaul daale aloo. The recipe was simplicity incarnate. Large-sized potatoes were buried overnight in ashes accumulated in the fire place. They were retrieved and reborn next morning and consumed with great relish with jeera or hara dhania aur namak. Occasionally spiced with chat masala and draped with chutney. It had a smoky flavour and for us this remains miles ahead of any fancy baked in the jacket firang stuff topped with sour cream. Years later, as undergrad students, we discovered tandoori aloo in Delhi. Alas, tandoori fare has since become fashionable and fancy losing all its rustic charm. We yielded to nostalgia recently and regretted at once. The potato that had endured the ordeal by fire was packed with paneer, khoya, dry fruits and nuts. And yes, it had suffered parboiling and peeling too! We missed the joys experienced in childhood and yearned. Our prayers were answered. We chanced upon McCains potato wedges on the grocerís shelf and here is the rest of the story:

Tandoori  aloo

Potato wedges (You can use homemade wedges too, just take even-sized potatoes and donít peel.

Wash well, and cut after pat drying.) 1 packet

Pepper powder 1 tsp

Cumin seeds 1/2 tsp

Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp

Clove powder 1/2 tsp

Cardamom powder 1/2 tsp

Rock salt 1/4 tsp

Dried mint leaves, crushed 1/4 tsp

Lemon juice/ dried pomegranate seeds 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Oil to pan-grill (if pan grilling)

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Place the readymade wedges on a baking tray. Bake for about 15 minutes till golden. Drizzle with powdered spices and sprinkle the lemon juice. Alternatively pan grill on a thick bottomed non-stick pan till done to taste. If not paranoid about health, you can take an avoidable shortcut and at a pinch even deep fry and remove excess oil using kitchen towels. Still beats the so-called tandoori aloo in the market hollow. Enjoy.