It can be such a pleasure to cook for a party. Especially if everything is being taken care of and all you’ve got to do is to cook. Make that cook ‘one’ dish! So, the menu is planned. The place is being readied. The rest of the food is ready. And all you’ve got to do is to prepare your dish.
What fun it is to cook in a calm and quiet kitchen, no pesky kids bothering you, no time pressure, no hungry people waiting for you to finish. And, most of all, no other sound to distract you from the lovely sound of the tadka (seasoning in hot oil). Isshhhh…Followed by the sizzling onions.
I was lucky to be rewarded with this wonderful quiet time alone with my own thoughts when I cooked last week for a get-together at home. Actually, it was one of the days in the run-up-to-the-D-day: my little boy’s first birthday, the star birthday (the day when the stars align in the same way as they did at the time someone’s born. It is an annual feature just like your regular birthday). The house was milling with guests and some 12 people were to have dinner at home that night. And everyone had gone out for some shopping in the early evening, leaving me alone at home to prepare my dish. Sonny boy was sound asleep.
The menu was actually quite basic for a get-together dinner, but included standard favourites of our family: alu dum, butter rotis, bisi bele bhaat (made with dalia instead of rice), fried papads and curd-rice (we can’t ever do without this one, can we?). Between them, my sisters-in-law and mother-in-law had prepared everything, except the potatoes, in the afternoon.
My MIL had purchased baby potatoes especially for this one: she knew the kids (those of my sisters-in-law) loved these little carb factories (who doesn’t!?). It is actually simple to prepare this one. Tastes good. And is a crowd-pleaser for sure. The version I’ve prepared is not the Kashmiri one that is richer with the addition of cashews and yogurt. This one’s simpler and closer to the Bengali style (Alur Dom!). Instead of deep-frying the boiled potatoes, I’ve sauteed them on slow heat on a non-stick tawa the way I prepare my Size Zero Potatoes. Give it a shot sometime. Both, the Size Zero Potatoes as well as this gravied potato curry.
This gravy is my entry for Day 4 of Week 1 of the month-long Blogging Marathon hosted by Srivalli. For the first week, everyone’s posting about Occasion-special dishes.
Baby potatoes – 200 gm (if using regular potatoes, quarter them)
Tomatoes – 4-5 (see Notes)
Onions – 2 (medium)
Ginger – 1 inch piece
Fresh coriander leaves (chopped) – a handful
Oil – 2 tbsp + 1 tbsp
Dry red chillies – 2
Cumin seeds (Jeera) – 1 tsp + 1 tsp
Bay leaf – 1
Cinnamon stick – 1 inch piece
Cook the potatoes either in a pressure cooker or in a pot of water till done but not mushy. Peel the potatoes when cool
Dry roast 1 tsp jeera and powder. You could use a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle for this
Finely chop the onions and 1 tomato. Grate the ginger
Grind the rest of the tomatoes along with the red chillies and grated ginger
Heat 2 tsp of oil on a non-stick tawa and add boiled potatoes. Add a few pinches of salt and mix well. Reduce heat to medium-low and give the potatoes a mix every few minutes. Continue this way till the potatoes are golden brown all over
While the potatoes are cooking, heat 2 tbsp of oil in a big pan and add 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds, bay leaf and cinnamon stick
Wait for 10 seconds or so and add chopped onions. If you add them any later, jeera seeds will turn brown and give a different, slightly bitter flavour
Let the onions turn translucent, then pink. Add chopped tomato and ground tomato paste. Cook on medium-high heat till the gravy starts to leave the sides of the pan
Add 1 cup of water and salt and mix. Remember that you’ve salted the potatoes already, so salt accordingly. When gravy starts bubbling, add roasted baby potatoes
Cook for a few minutes till the gravy comes together. Add roasted jeera powder. Mix well. Remove from heat and transfer to serving dish
Heat a small pan and add remaining oil. Add 1/2 tsp cumin seeds. Wait for a few seconds and pour over prepared alu dum
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves before serving