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Tempting potato curry

Tempting potato curry

Anar ke Raswale Aloo



Pushpesh Pant

Potato is considered a plebeian vegetable. It is seldom treated as an ingredient worthy enough of creating a delicacy with. True, there are varieties of ‘dum aloo’ that the Kashmiris, Bengalis, Banarasis and the Jaipurwale take pride in, but it is only rarely that you are served a genuine specimen. Most eateries serve ‘dum aloo’ that tastes alike — draped in a sauce-like gravy that is a blend of ‘makhani’ and ‘shahi’ versions. No one has the patience now to shallow fry potato discs on very low heat for hours to prepare the Kashmiri dum with a crisp exterior and a spongy heart. But we digress.

Vegetarians cannot do without potato either. It is paired with a myriad of vegetables such as peas, carrots, beans, cauliflowers, fenugreek and spinach. It is also served as a side dish in Bengal, like ‘aloo posto’ or ‘aloo bhaja’. ‘Hing-jeere ke aloo’ is the fallback option when all else fails (and you don’t really love the ubiquitous paneer). One can even argue that it is in the realm of chaat that aloo comes to stand its own. But this is only partially true. Be it ‘aloo tikki’, ‘aloo chhole’ or ‘tamatar aur aloo tokri ki chaat’, the dominant flavours that explode in the mouth are contributed by the chutneys and spices.

We have, in the past, enjoyed several variations of aloo — like ‘tilwale aloo’ and ‘sarsonwale aloo’ — but seldom experienced bliss. This is the reason why we went into raptures when we recently came across ‘aloo anar ki rasedar tarkari’. We are indebted for this refreshingly different elegant curry that was unveiled in a cookbook — beautifully illustrated and produced — titled ‘Bapu’s Curry’. Before things get confusing, it needs to be made clear that the recipes have no connection with the Father of the Nation who’s fondly called Bapu by Indians.

Bapu, in this case, is a venerable Marwadi gentleman, an eminent lawyer, a gourmet with a passion for cooking and sharing the joy of food with others. He is Bapu to his family, loving father and grandfather. Umesh Khetan, the author of this book, has an open mind and cosmopolitan outlook. Everyone knows that the Marwadis are great entrepreneurs and intrepid travellers. At the same time, they are known to be an orthodox community that usually eschews onion and garlic and is strictly vegetarian. The author has no qualms about adding a generous measure of onion and garlic in his cooking. He has even included a recipe for an ‘egg curry with a twist’.

Time to return to the tempting potato curry, ‘anar ke raswale aloo’, to call it by its proper name. And since the author loves improvisation, this has inspired us to tweak his recipe just a wee bit.

Anar ke Raswale Aloo

Ingredients

  • Pomegranate juice 700 ml
  • Ginger (minced) 2-inch piece
  • Garlic cloves (minced) 3-4
  • Green chillies (slit and deseeded) 2
  • Poppy seeds (ground to a coarse paste) 1 tsp
  • Chironji (ground to paste) 1 tsp
  • Besan 1 tbsp
  • Potatoes (medium, peeled) 4
  • Onion (finely sliced) 1-2
  • Cinnamon stick 1x 2inch piece
  • Cloves 2-3
  • Black peppercorns 3-4
  • Degi mirch 1/2 tsp
  • Black rock salt 1 tsp
  • Fresh cream 750 ml
  • Ghee 5 tbsp
  • Salt to taste

Method

  • Cut the potatoes into discs and shallow fry in 1 tsp ghee. In the same pan, heat another tablespoon of ghee and add green chillies, cinnamon stick and black peppercorns. Pour half of the pomegranate juice and simmer it till the mixture becomes sticky. Strain and reserve for later.
  • Next, heat 3 tbsp ghee in a pan and fry the sliced onions till translucent. Add ginger and garlic along with black salt, poppy seed and chironji pastes and besan. Stir continuously till it turns golden brown.
  • Pour cream in a heavy-bottomed pan and let it simmer. Add about 200 ml of pomegranate juice to it. Now add the onion spice, besan mixture. Use a whisk to avoid lumps. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • Soak the shallow-fried potato discs in the remaining pomegranate juice for 5 minutes. Add these to the curry and let it simmer for 20 more minutes. Add more pomegranate juice or water to obtain the desired consistency. Add degi mirch. Cook for two more minutes, adjust the seasoning, garnish with fried onions and serve with parantha or roti.

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