Aloo, or potatoes, are a universally loved vegetable despite being somewhat bland in taste. Perhaps it's this very blandness that makes them such a versatile ingredient to add to so many recipes. Especially in the case of Pakistani cooking, where the vast array of spices at our disposal enables us to create a multitude of dishes with this one vegetable. Aloo Gosht, Aloo Qeema and Aloo Bhujiya are some of the most popular ones, as is this recipe for curried potatoes that are typically eaten with Channa Masala, Sooji Halwa and Puris for brunch on a weekend.
A popular street food in Pakistan, this is fairly easy to make at home and brings back a multitude of memories. I can picture the men in their Shalwar (Pants) and Bunyan (Vest) sitting cross legged in front of a hot gas stove, in an open air cafe, with a few ramshackle tables and chairs. A huge pot before them, one they've probably cooked in for hundreds of years (I don't exaggerate when I say this) stirring this fragrant potato curry to perfection. The food is served in tin plates if you are dining in, or if your order is for take out, the food is scooped into small plastic bags and tied off with a thread, most of the effort going into the actual cooking of the curry and not in the serving and presentation of it. Whereas I can only visually recreate this street scene for you, the recipe below can give you a taste of one of the things I miss so dearly about my birthplace.
Â¼ Cup Cooking Oil
1 Teaspoon Cumin (White Zeera)
1 Teaspoon Coriander Powder
1 Teaspoon Carom (Ajwain)
1 Teaspoon Ginger
1 teaspoon Garlic
2 Whole Red Dried Chilies
2 Teaspoons Amchur Powder
1 Teaspoon Turmeric (Haldi) Powder
1 Teaspoon Red Chili Powder
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Water
10-15 Curry Leaves
Â¼ Cup Chopped Cilantro (Hara Dhania)
1. Boil the potatoes with a teaspoon of salt till they are cooked through (Knife slides in easily) and cool enough to peel easily.
2. Quarter the tomatoes and cook with a little water till soft, then mash to get a thick puree. Set aside for later.
3. Peel the potatoes and loosely break into clumps with hands.
4. Dry roast the cumin, coriander and carom and then grind to a powder.
5. Heat the oil and add the ginger and garlic and sautÃ© for a few seconds.
6. Add the potatoes and all of the remaining spices and sautÃ© for 1 minute.
7. Add the tomato puree and 1 cup of water and mix well together. Cover and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes.
8. Uncover, mash the potatoes a bit (you want some whole pieces of potato and some mashed).
9. Add the curry leaves, cover and simmer for another 5-10 minutes (depending on your stove and how much water you have left.
10.Garnish with cilantro and serve.