Rich blend of spices – sookhi aloo ki sabji
Lot of good things happen in Mahabaleshwar. One of the finest things is – something about that place makes people want to cook.
The kitchen is airy and has huge windows opening out to our kitchen garden. The fact that it’s a biggish sized kitchen also makes it easier to have people milling around and experimenting with various home grown and organic ingredients.
I had my cousin uncle and aunt over. The fact that he is my age does not deter me from calling him uncle. Some childhood habits just don’t get out of your system….
We were in Amritsar recently, and the fresh vegetables caught my friends eyes and she really wished to take some back home.
Alas! We had all shopped so much (and hey! it was cold, we had heavy jackets as well!), that our bags were collectively over weight. My poor bereft friend had to let go of the farm fresh vegetables. But to make things a wee better we had true Punjabi Warian with us.
Many years back I had Matar Ka Nimona at my cousins place. I remember eating bowl fulls much to her delight and finally to her dismay. She was worried I would get an upset stomach!!
This is actually a dish famous in Uttar Pradesh. It is mostly made during the winters when the peas are fresh and juicy. Wadi (Warian is Punjabi) in Uttar Pradesh, is made with fresh white pumpkin, urad dal, and garam masala. It’s dried in the heat of summer and remains intact for the year round.
I made this recipe many times last year. It’s very suitable to the Indian palate. Too alien for foreigners. It goes well with any kind of Indian Roti. Even tastes good with rice.
You can easily avoid the onion and garlic and reduce the spice quotient. But some amount of spice is definitely needed, don’t do away with it totally. I prefer to make this without the onion and garlic.
There is something about this dish, which appeals to me greatly. The mouth feel of the pea paste and a subtle hint of flavour left behind by the cooking wadi, and then of course the wadi itself, along with a soft pillowy taste of potatoes cooked in the simmering gravy. The gravy tends to thicken as it goes, and thickens even more when it’s left till it is consumed. So, adding enough water is essential, and just before serving (if made a little ahead of time) add a little salted water and cook till boiling and serve immediately.
Try and get small fresh peas. That will lend to the dish an inherent sweetness, which when combined with the garam masala of the wadi makes it resonate in your mouth.
My grand mom made the best Chole in the world. It was a hand me down recipe from her mother who was according to me was an un hailed, un acclaimed legendary cook worth atleast a couple of Michelin Stars. Not only did she cook like her hands were blessed by the gods, but she also remembered amongst the dozens of grand and great grand children, who thronged at her home each summer, what each of us loved to eat. Our stomachs and souls were in heaven when at her home. Every morning, no matter how early we woke up, we would find her tinkering in the kitchen, singing bhajans to her beloved Krishna. I asked her one day if she has any recipes written down – and she looked at me like I was asking her if Krishna liked dance music. Every single recipe, and there were thousands in her repertoire, was stored in her head. And not once was there a variation in what we ate. Each and every time over the years the dishes tasted the same – tasty, heartwarming and soul stirring.
My nani, handed me this recipe of Chole, very casually over dinner one day. I scrambled up and wrote it down. Over the years, I have also perfected this recipe with trials and error. And while it still does not taste like how she or her mom made it, it stills holds good on it’s own….
My friend Ajit invented this absolutely unusual recipe on the spot.
We were all in Mahabaleshwar, wondering about the dinner menu. Naan and Kaali Dal were already in the picture, and he volunteered to make an Aloo (Potato) veggie. This jovial, happy – go – lucky, man waltzed into the kitchen at 10 am, fiddled around with pots and pans, and waltzed back out. Then at 7 pm, he took a stiff drink of whisky in his hand, asked for a bottle of rum, (leaving me wondering, as to how we will get him off the kitchen floor and into bed!!) and marched into the kitchen again. I confess to taking a few peeks into the kitchen, just to check if he was still standing. The one time I peeped in, I saw him drain the bottle of Rum into the pan of simmering potatoes. I heaved a sigh of relief, and went about my business grinning, impatiently waiting to taste these crazy Rum laden potatoes.
I really don’t need to tell you how good it was, because I know as soon as you read the recipe you will definitely want to try it at least once. After that, you will be hooked. And all those who eat it with you will be hooked. I have already made it thrice in a span of three weeks, and I am a very very happy person when mealtime arrives.
This dish takes a little bit of planning, a little bit of sweat and a great deal of Rum. I really suggest you make it just the way I have mentioned. Everything that Ajit, has put into this Rum Wale Aloo – a la Ajit – has a purpose and imparts some sort of flavour.
Get hold of the smallest potatoes you can. And please see that all of them are approximately the same size. This way, they will all cook uniformly.
Marinate it for an at least 6 hours. I did a huge boo boo, last week. I was asked to make this recipe for a friend’s party and so I marinated the potatoes, a night before to make it next morning, only to realise that I have miscalculated the dates. It was not due for yet another day. I just said a fervent prayer and popped the potatoes into the fridge and let it marinate for yet another 24 hours. So in all – 36 hours of deep marination. Whoa! It cooked faster, tasted bloody good and it did not smell like over worn socks.
So yay!! Go for it – marinate it for as long as you can.
Besides a long marinating time, it also takes a little while to cook. I would suggest good Jazz music in the background (Why Jazz? – well it just seems to set the right tone for this dish! All sultry and seductive. Something good waiting to happen!) A good drink in the hand, and a happy go – lucky nature like the inventor of this dish.
Oye Ajit – Cheers!!
Another shout out from my daughter, for this recipe. I had made it for their friends when they were here and it was polished off in no time.
Well, many a good news hovering around me. The daughter got into Yale, my cooking classes have taken off and this darned blog has got fixed. There were some major issues, so all those of you who tried to come back for your favourite recipes and found gibberish in the ingredient section, my apologies. My very profound and heartfelt apologies. It could have got fixed earlier, but as usual, I was travelling.
I was in Mahabaleshwar, a small quaint hill station a few hours from Bombay. I have a home and a farm there, so this time the 12 days I stayed there, I ate off the farm, played with the new pup and chilled with my best friend Nishi.
We would wake up in the mornings, sit in the sun, (it was cold there!), and sip our tea and coffee. Then after a leisurely breakfast, we would put face packs (moisturising ones – like I said it was Brrrrr!) and jabber away for an hour or so. By the time the watch thought of turning both its hands to 12 – we would be sitting with our afternoon drinks – again yakking away to our hearts’ content. It was the most idyllic holiday one can have.
I plucked fresh Spinach, from the field and made this ultra easy and very delicious recipe. It needs very little preparation time. I have cooked it on a non-stick, with very little oil, but if you have a large party you can easily fry it in oil. I did it for the kid’s 21st birthday party and it vanished into mouths as soon as freshly fried plates were put in front of them.
I have also made a video, for a quick look-see. The first video I made was not “good enough” and my niece and son insisted I work a little harder and produce a better one. Well, they are not all that happy with this one either, but I lack patience so there is for all to view.
Unfortunately, I am not able to load the video here because of (temporary – I will fix it asap) data restrictions. But here is the Facebook URL
and there is the google drive URL.
I hope you will see the video and try the recipe. It makes for great cocktail snacks, lunch box sides, or sides.
Promise to get back with a recipe soon. I’ve been tardy!