Sunday, September 27, 2015

Bamaniya Bataka/ Potato curry

If you didn't know this about me already, then let me tell you again- I LOVE Gujarati Food!

Have you ever had a chance of checking out a Gujarati Thali?

A gujarati thali is a lunch or dinner plate that serves a big variety of vegetarian dishes in one meal. All the recipes are traditional recipes influenced by the Gujarati flavours that have been passed down since generations. The 'Thali' combines 4-5 types of vegetables and curries, 2-3 types of rotis and breads, sweet and spicy, hot and cold, snacks, rice, lentils and sprouts and desserts, and some sides like chutneys, salads, pickles, poppadums all in one. Whew! Slightly out of breath there! Its like a buffet they bring to your plate and one of my favourite meals of all times. Now if you have ever had a chance to eat this food, this potato curry is an integral part of the assemble. Infact a Gujarati Thaal is incomplete without the Bamaniya bataka. Bataka means potato btw.

These potatoes are a staple at my home. They just happen to be my dad's favourite food ever! Every weekend whenever I ask him if I should make something special, he almost always tells me he wants to eat what he likes to call -gujarati aloo. Since we have truckloads of recipes in India for potato curry, the moment he says gujarati Aloo, I know what he wants me to make. The other times it is his other favourite- Chhole Bhature or Punjabi chickpea curry.

For the uninitiated, the taste of this potato curry is a balance of spicy, tangy and slightly sweet aka ridiculously good! Even as I write, the thought of these is making me salivate. Traditionally it is supposed to be eaten with puri/ fried flatbread but for sake of our health we eat it with Roti. 

A shoutout to all the gujju food lovers out there, you know what I mean when I say - once in awhile though, puri + bataka + aam ras= Happy Us! Am I right or am I Right?!  

Lets get cookin' then shall we?! 

Serves: 6

Time taken: 30-40 mins

Complexity: **

You'll need

2-3 tbsp Peanut oil
1 1/2 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
8-10 Curry leaves
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 whole green chili, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp asafoetida
2-3 dried red chilies
2 bay leaves
1 tsp ground coriander powder
4 Potatoes, peeled, cut into 1" cubes
1 tomato, diced
1/2 tsp red chili powder (add more if you like it hot)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder 
3-4 cups water
2 tbsp tamarind paste
2 tbsp Jaggery
Salt to taste
Coriander to garnish
Pinch of love


The cast of ingredients sans the tamarind paste and jaggery 

First, scrub the potatoes clean, peel the potatoes to cube them in 1" pieces  and set them aside. In a deep pan, add in the peanut oil on medium heat. 

When the oil starts to shimmer, add in the mustard seeds and allow them to splutter for a second

Then add in the cumin seeds and let them turn golden

Next add in the curry leaves

In quick succession add in the minced ginger and thinly sliced green chilies. Inhale deeply to experience the fragrance of these tempering spices/ herbs. 

Add in the asafoetida

And break in a couple of red chilies, seeds and all

I then placed in the bay leaves. 

Add in ground coriander powder and mix it all together. If required turn the heat to a medium low so nothing burns or sticks to the pan. 

Bring in the hero of your dish- the potatoes and add them to the tempering. 

Mix everything so the potatoes are well coated with all those delicious flavours. Saute this for about 3-4 minutes. 

Next add in a diced tomato. 

Mix that in as well for a couple of minutes

Add in the red chili powder and the turmeric powder

I then added 3 1/2 cups of water to this. The amount of water will depend on the size of your potatoes and the consistency of the gravy that you want. Also when the potatoes cook, the water level comes down and the gravy thickens because of the starch in the potatoes. So keep that in mind. We can always add some water later, so don't fret about it too much. 

Cover this with a lid to allow the potatoes to soften and cook for about 15-20 minutes. 

In 20 minutes, the take off the lid. See how the water level has reduced. The oil has come up. I always poke the potatoes with a fork or the back of my spoon. They should fall apart. Mash a couple of those potato cubes in the curry. It adds a good texture to the curry and thickens it up. 

Now is the time to add in the salt. I added in a couple of teaspoons of table salt. Remember, potatoes need salt.  

I also strained in my tamarind paste. If we'd have added this earlier, the potatoes would have taken infinitely longer to cook. For the paste, I took tamarind and soaked it in half a cup of water. If you get a ready paste, that would be awesome. Or if you don't have tamarind by any chance, you can add raw mango powder or even 2-3 tbsp of lemon juice to get your curry nice and tangy. The tamarind though adds an authentic as well as a deep earthy sourness that can't be exactly replicated. 

Add in the jaggery too. The jaggery comes in a big lump and we have to break it into pieces to be able to use it. I added in about 2 tbsp of jaggery to balance out the flavours. Let the curry simmer for about 5 more minutes to let all the flavours come together. Taste and adjust for seasoning after 5 mins. 

Throw in a few coriander leaves and stir it in. And the Bamaniya Bataka are done! 

Those gorgeous potatoes floating in that perfectly balanced curry... with the puri, its a dance of flavours on my tongue! 

Did I tell you it makes for a perfect weekend brunch?! Weekend, because after I eat it, I always want to nap. 

Lip smacking indeed! 

Take in the flavours of the wonderful Gujarati cuisine my friends, Indulge!