Mum’s out of town again, which means that the kitchen is my free ground. I feel a little more confident this year than last year, since I’ve been experimenting with cooking. The kitchen doesn’t seem like scary, alien territory anymore. I’m actually cooking andaaze se instead of following the instructions with a paranoid feeling like it’ll go wrong.
This weekend, at the Kala Ghoda Art Festival, I had a chance to attend a workshop on Food Writing, which spurred me on to document my culinary experiments.
Recently, I transferred my window garden into fresher pots and planted a few new leaves. The last have put out flowers which means they’ve ‘taken’ in the soil. Also, I realised that my plants just bloom and wither away. I’ve never had the heart to break off a leaf, as fresh and green and alive as it looks on the plant. But if I don’t, it’s actually restricting the plant from growing further. With this in mind, I resolved to use the ajwain leaves that have been blossoming in my recently grafted pot.
Now mum doesn’t really like the taste of ajwain so she doesn’t use it in her cooking at all. I like the spicy tang of the leaves and I thought it would go really well with a fried dish. Ajwain bhajias are the most obvious choice but I wanted something that could go with the regular staple of rice and sambhar/rasam/kozhambu/daal. So I guess I was really lucky to find in my vegetable bin, that most adaptable, most delicious of all vegetables – potato!
So here goes, a recipe I’ve (mostly I think) devised myself and which, I tested today to great success. I call this Chutney Aloo.
Chutney Aloo sabzi
- 3 large potatoes diced
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tbsp urad daal
- 3 tsp sambhar powder
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1 cup ajwain leaves
- 1 green chilli<
- 2 small cubes ginger
- 1 tsp tamarind
- 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp mango powder
- ½ tsp salt
- Grind chutney ingredients to coarse paste. Add water as required. Ginger brings a rounded pungency while green chili adds a sharp sting. Depending upon your taste, you could increase either to make the chutney spicier. Ajwain provides a tangy aftertaste but could get lost in the stronger flavours of ginger & chili so ensure that it is also increased in direct proportion to additions of either.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil. Add mustard seeds. When they sputter, add urad dal and onion. Stir fry till the urad dal turns brown.
- Add the potatoes and stir well to ensure every piece is covered with oil. Sprinkle sambar powder and salt to coat evenly.
- Put in the chutney and immediately add a little oil to ensure it doesn’t stick to bottom of the pan. Mix well so the potatoes are evenly covered.
- Add a glass of water, cover and cook on low flame. Periodically check if potato is cooked by poking. Add water when it evaporates.
- When potato is cooked, take the cover off and heat till the water evaporates and the chutney is thick and creamy.
- Garnish with fresh ajwain leaves.
Serves 4 people as a side-dish.
This can be eaten as an accompaniment to sambhar rice or curd rice. It could also be placed between two slices of bread, if your tastes run to Indianized sandwiches.