Achari Aloo/ Tangy n Spicy Potatoes
You've heard me say tons of times that our dear humble Potato is the most versatile of foods. It can be a side dish, a main dish or a salad. On a dinner table, it has so many roles to play. There's so much expectation from a potato. Its one of those veggies that almost the entire world depends on for carbs. Whew! And we still call it the 'humble' potato. I think we should give more credit to it.
In our kitchen though, potato is the go to vegetable. I can think of atleast 25-30 recipes that I can make using potatoes. And I mean just potatoes in Indian style.
So the other day, I was in the mood to have something spicy and lip smackingly delicious. And I ended up making the ultimate potato gravy dish which is going to be a staple in my kitchen from now on. When served, the dish was so loved and was gone in minutes!
Inspired by the Indian Pickles that are known to have a perfect balance of tangy n spicy and sometime sweet flavours, I bring to you- Achari Aloo or Potato Pickle style. You can eat those with or without any bread.
I used a special blend of Indian spices that is made to marinate pickles in. It is quintessentially the base for many a pickle mix which lends a very unique flavour to the potatoes. It is also known as Paanch Phoran in Bengali which means 5 flavours.
So here goes,
Time taken: 30 mins
5 medium sized gold yukon potatoes, boiled n peeled
1 large red onion, finely chopped
4 tomatoes, finely diced
3 green chillies
2 cups water
3 tbsp mustard seed oil
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or 1 tsp of garlic paste
1" pc of ginger, grated or 1 tsp of ginger paste
2 tsp salt
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
2" pc of jaggery (optional)
juice of one lemon
coriander to garnish
tons of love to sprinkle
For the spice mix
1 tbsp fennel
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp nigella seeds
1/2 tbsp fenugreek seeds
Firstly, we'll prepare the spice mix.
Take a smallish pan and add the dry spices to it. We will dry roast these till the cumin turns slightly brown in colour. Remember to keep the flame on medium low so the spices don't start to burn. Keep moving them around a bit in the pan to get them roasted evenly. Should take about 3-4 minutes.
Now take them out of the pan carefully and into a mortar to give it a good few thwacks with the pestle.
If you don't have a mortar n pestle, you could just remove the spices onto the platform and then move a rolling pin over it for a few times. These dry roasted spices when roasted n then broken as such bring out the best flavour of the spices. Your special spice mix is ready!
For the vegetable now, pour the mustard oil into a medium size pan. Heat it on a medium flame.
Make small slits in the green chilies and add the the heating oil.
Before the chilies begin to splatter, add the finely chopped onions to the pan.
Give the onions a good stir in the oil and saute for a minute to get them softened a bit. Next add the ginger n garlic to complete the Indian mirepoix.
Saute till the onions turn golden brown and the oil starts to leave on the sides. Now add our special spice mix to it. And stir till the spices are well coated with oil and are mixed well through with the onions. Cook for another couple minutes.
Time to add in the tomatoes.
Stir them around and then cover with a lid. The steam helps in softening them up faster. Let it sit for 5 mins. Remove the lid and then smush it with the back of your spoon so the tomatoes break and everything forms a sort of paste.
Season the sauce with salt, chili and turmeric. Add the lemon juice.
At this time, we will also add the piece of jaggery so its melted properly. This is to balance the acidity from the tomatoes. Just adds a beautiful depth of flavour and brings the whole dish together.
Thats a lump of jaggery in the sauce. Sure looks weird, doesn't it?!
Pour in the water to the gravy now. Now this step is optional. If you want to keep your potatoes dry, you can just add about half a cup of water into the sauce and then add the potatoes to it. But I wanted some gravy to coat my potatoes and so I added 2 cupfuls of water. Let it simmer for a couple minutes so the gravy comes together nicely.
Dunk your (washed, clean)pinkie finger in the gravy n taste the insane goodness! Go ahead! Be careful not to burn your finger though. Its good, isn't it?!
Plomp in the boiled and cubed potatoes into the sauce and give it a good thorough toss.
Sprinkle in your love. Test for seasoning. Add salt if required. The flavours should be a perfect harmony of tangy, spicy n sweet.
Garnish with coriander.
Serve it piping hot.
You can chose any Indian breads like naan, roti or parantha or even rice. That's your humble potato transformed to the star of the dinner- Achari Aloo, served up Ki style! Indulge! :)