Have you noticed how sometimes ordinary things can become extraordinary? Things that otherwise wouldn’t be noticed or talked about or even given a moment’s thought, can sometimes be the one we look at with dreamy eyes.
Now opening the window to let some air in, isn’t exactly an exotic act, by any standards, we all agree. But when the window had to be kept closed for the last five months, when the window was the only barrier between our warm self and the hostile elements outside, then one fine morning, voilla, the nature decides to be kind to us, the temperatures struggle above zero, that first whiff of the cold air from the open window touching the cheek. Now this could qualify for a memorable event.
The warmer temperatures is working magic on my surroundings too. The geese and gulls are back scouting for the best spot to nest. It doesn’t matter that the lakes are still frozen. The leaf buds are swollen too.
This brings us to our dish for today. Potato isn’t exactly ‘The king of vegetables’, is it ? It is a very basic, rustic, ‘just there’, everyday source of carbs. That can be changed though. Try this flavourful dish from Gujrat, a province in Western India.
The crunch from the peanuts balances the mushy-ness of the potatoes. Then there is the sour, sweet, salty and heat working all together, as a team. The four different tastes kept under a tight leash. Not one of them get to show their true colours. The delicate flavours from the cilantro and cumin seeds add interest to the dish.
Ordinary to exciting.
It is a good thing.
Recipe: Serves 6-8 as a side.
Potato Six medium
Ginger One inch grated
Peanuts Three quarter cup, coarse ground
Curry leaves 8-10
Coriander leaves Quarter cup chopped
Sesame seeds One Tbsp
Cumin seeds One tsp
Green chillies Four, finely chopped
Salt To taste
Lemon juice One Tbsp
Canola oil Two Tbsp
Paneer cubes One cup, cubed, lightly fried (optional)
Raisins One tbsp
Black pepper powder One pinch
Boil the potatoes, peel and cut them in half inch cubes. Sprinkle some salt and keep it aside.
Heat oil in a pan on high. Add the green chilli pieces, ginger and curry leaves. Crank the heat down to medium. Saute for a few minutes then add the cumin seeds and cloves. Wait for the cumin seeds to have a bit of colour, then add the peanuts. Keep stirring till the nuts are light brown in colour. Next throw in the sesame seeds and raisins , fry for a few seconds and add the lemon juice. The seeds should not be burnt.
Next add the potato pieces. If using Paneer, add them now. Stir to bring everything together. Taste to check the salt. Throw in a large pinch of black pepper, garnish with cilantro pieces.
This is a recipe given to me by my good friend Rohini.
Check for a balance of flavours, do not hesitate to titrate it to your taste. We are looking for a balance of salt, sour, sweet and hot. If you are not too keen about the chillies, lessen or omit them. The ginger and black pepper will impart a bit of heat anyway.
This can be served as a side dish with either Roti ( Indian flat bread ), Poori ( Indian fried bread ), or rice. Adding Panner cubes to this dish can add the protein and elevate this dish to a main course.
I only had red chillies today, so used them.
Paneer is a form of cheese that is available in Indian grocery store or even in the World food section of Superstore.