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Maharashtrian Crispy Potatoes

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ALOO LACHHA - JULIENNED POTATOES

This is a dish that celebrates the potato, that ubiquitous vegetable in Indian cuisine that was brought over by the Portugese with all its solanaceae cousins – tomatoes, aubergines, chillies hundreds of years ago. You’d never think they were not native to India! In fact the marathi word for potato is batata which is the Portugese word for it.

A word of warning before you start cooking Aloo Lachha. It is slightly tricky to make and is time consuming because the potato has to be julienned and if you do not have a food processor attachment that can do this, you may end up with an aching arm. Also, it needs to be stirred throughout the cooking process so that is more aching for the arms! But does it make an impressive side dish for a dinner party!

I do not really know what the provenance of this dish is; its just one of those dishes that turned up now and again at friend’s houses in Delhi. The important thing while making this dish is to make sure that you have potatoes that do not have even a hint of sweetness.

Serves 4

Cooking Time: 1 hour

You will need:

  • 750 g potatoes- I like using good ol’ Maris Piper. Choose large potatoes as they are easier to julienne.
  • 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger and 2 hot green chillies ground to a paste
  • 1/2 cup of oil – olive, sunflower or rapeseed
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander power
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
  • 1/2 lime
  • Salt

Method:

Peel and julienne the potatoes. Wash these and drain. Heat the oil in a large wok. Add the cumin seeds, let these splutter. Now add the ginger and chilli paste directly to the oil. Stir around so that it starts frying and immediately add the potatoes. Keeping the heat on high, stir the potatoes once every few seconds. Let them start catching at the base so that you get crispy bits forming but the important thing is not to let them set or get burnt. After about 5 minutes at the chopped coriander, coriander powder, turmeric and salt. Carry on the stirring process. After about half an hour of this, the potatoes should be cooked. Do not cover at any stage otherwise they will go soggy and sticky. When the potatoes are completely cooked (make sure that this has happened by tasting a couple of strands because even slightly raw potatoes will not taste that great) squeeze the lime in. Stir a few more times and take off the heat. Best eaten freshly cooked with rotis and your favourite curry.

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