Thursday, October 04, 2012

Tari dar Aloo Kofta

The best thing about potatoes, you will agree with me, is that they are so 'adaptive'. much like your typical Indian 'bahu' (daughter-in-law) as portrayed in many Bollywood movies. 
But deep fry them taters in hot oil and they are transformed, they take on a glamorous avatar and dazzle you, think from a versatile Meena Kumari  to a sizzling 'item' like Katrina. 

The thing is, potato ( in it's deep fried glory) dunked in any sauce, was un-thinkable, where I was concerned.
Here's why.. many, many years ago, somewhere in a restaurant in Mumbai, I walked past many tables to go to an empty one on a busy day (as always, in Mumbai). of course, I  glanced, casually, here and there.. not intentionally, you have to understand, but  the eyes flicked casually over passing tables and I saw a sight, that shocked me and a memory, to this day that confuses me. A man sat at a table enjoying, batata wada in (gulp!) sambar.

I was clear in my mind about one thing, Batata wada= Mumbai, Sambar= Madrasi ( no offense, but 25 or so years ago, anything South Indian was Madrasi, even though my roots lie in Karnataka, it was Madrasi). Mixing this wada or indeed any kind of potato dumpling with that sambar, ayyo! 
I never dunked my batata wada in anything other than the fiery red garlic chutney ( and occasionally in green cilantro  chutney and a tamarind-jaggery chutney) they serve on a piece of old news paper at any road side. I cannot imagine anyone doing anything else. I am rigid on that count. 

And then I find this recipe, that changes my perspective ( and no, still not going to dunk my batata wada in sambar, but about a dumpling in a sauce).

If you think these are batata vadas, you are mistaken and if you say they are koftas, I'll just say, " smart, you read the post title". I just went on and on about the batata wada to confuse you ;), that and the fact that I have a batata wada fixation.

Not that these dumplings are any less addictive.
The curry base is also fantastic, compliments the  koftas very well. 

Source:660 curries 

For the dumplings:
1 pound Russet/ Yukon gold potatoes 
1/2 cup firmly packed Cilantro 
4-5 fresh green Chilies
6 medium sized cloves, Garlic
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp. Garam Masala
1 cup Chickpea / besan flour sifted
1/4 tsp  Turmeric powder
Oil for deep frying

For the sauce base:
2 Tbsp Ghee (or oil) 
1 medium red Onion, roughly chopped
2 ( inch long x 1 inch wide) pieces of Ginger, chopped
1/2 cup Raw Cashew nuts
1/4 cup Golden Raisins
1 (15 oz) can Tomato Sauce
1/2 tsp Salt
2 Tbsp. Cilantro, chopped, to garnish

Pressure cook the potatoes, peel and mash. (the author has a different procedure, he suggests, peel and cube potatoes and cook them on the stove top until tender, mash. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water) 

In a mixie (chutney attachment /jar) or food processor, pulse the cilantro, chilies and garlic. 
Mix this in the mashed potatoes, add 1 tsp salt and garam masala.. Mix thoroughly. form small vadas /dumplings/ patties

Combine turmeric, 1/2 tsp salt and chickpea flour in a bowl. add warm water to make a thick batter ( like for pancakes)

Heat oil in a kadhai / wok. Line a plate with paper towels. Once the oil is hot (350 F) take a patty, dip it in the  batter and gently slide it in the hot oil ( deep fry up to 4 patties at a time) and fry them to a beautiful  yellowish brown color. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat for the rest of the patties.

Make the sauce:
Heat ghee in a large saucepan over medium high. 
Add onions, ginger, cashew and raisins and stir fry till the onion turns light brown around the edges, the nuts are brown in places and  raisins, plump.
Pour in the tomato sauce and scrape the bottom of the pan releasing any browned bits of onion . 
Reduce the heat, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion has softened.
Transfer the sauce to a blender  and puree. 
Pour the sauce back into the saucepan and add the reserved cup of 'potato water' . 
If you have pressure cooked the potatoes, there won't be any starchy water, add regular tap water.
Add salt and stir. Gently heat the sauce.

Lower the koftas in the sauce and  cover them with the sauce.
Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes. Do not stir or the koftas will fall apart.
Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

660 curries is the Chowhound Cookbok of the month ! Check out what others are cooking and read all about their experiences with the delightful recipes in this fantastic cookbook!

A few weeks ago, I got a very pleasant surprise, from a very close friend. She and I  talk over the phone, e-mail and discuss anything and everything!
Like many friendships in blogworld, ours is also a virtual friendship. We have never met.. yet it feels like we have known each other for ever so long. M-one day after he saw I was glued to the phone for a long time, talking, laughing- he wondered out loud, which of my Indian friends was up so early ( at dawn) to talk SO energetically with me, that too about food and kids. All I can say is, his face was a picture when he heard I was talking to a person I have never met, except thru our logs! hehehehehe!
Coming back to my surprise parcel! The first thing I want to talk about is a packet of chivda. For those who read the blog and know me are aware that I *love* chivda.
I got the parcel just as we were heading out and without any ceremony we opened it in the car and started munching! What was left ( because both , M and I, were being polite by leaving the last spoonful or two for the other) is the only proof I have of this tasty, finger licking good chivda!

This is the only picture I have of the left over chivda, which I was able to share  thru Instagram after a lot of fiddling ( I realized after this experience, that I have much to learn and retain where all this picture sharing etc. is concerned and more importantly, passwords to remember!) 
The other surprise was a a silicone mold ( sea shell shape), currently in the possession of the little one, who has taken a fancy to it ( but of course, Mommy needs it and therefore it is just has to be in his hands!). The mold was to make these awesome Lotion Bars
Ash has me hooked to making soap and lotion bars at home!She also sent me a sample bar and I knew I had to make them at home. It is easy and doable for a person , like me, who has no craft gene! I used the sea shell mold to make bars and I was lucky, I got a chance to send a few back home ( in India) for my Mother! Picture of these cute bars will be updated when I make my next batch (and rescue my mold which is currently used as a home for colorful erasers- It's just perfect, in S's words... yeah , yeah, sure! )

Thank you, Ash! I hope one day, we meet, in person and talk and eat and laugh, just like over the phone!  I am so glad I *met* you and really look forward to *really meeting* you and your family members! 
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  1. LOL! Manasi, you write so well dear! I love reading ur posts. I have seen 'that sight' several times as my mom loves eating this combo and I always made faces when she ordered it in our favorite local udipi restaurant. Then as I grew up I started analysing it and realised that the the batata bhaaji and sambhar have always been friends. I used to dunk morsels of masala dosa into the sambhar and loved the way the bhaaji would melt into the arms of warm sambhar while being covered by dosa. Its like they are in love but 'chup-chupke' like an illicit affair. So a sight of them a batatawada plopped directly into the and for all to see...shocks the public. Its like them declaring that they love each other and don't care what others think. So Sambhar in an udipi restaurant is the hero, pair him with dosa, idli, medu wada or even a batate wada and he'll give u a super hit bite. :D I hope I made u laugh too.

    I would love to try this curry and thanks a lot for that link u shared on the discussion of this book.

    - Priti

  2. I know tell me about the stares we gave other tables at the restaurant. This was the way of finding out what dish was popular on the menu there. And Batata wada in sambar was yucks.... But it is and still is very popular in all Udipi restaurants. Will need solid determination to not eat all the wadas before the curry is done. Hats off to you.
    Love Ash.

  3. OMG!!!! You are seriously too much. All this flattery has me in tears now. I am so glad you like the love I send your way. Little S can keep that mold. I am dying to meet you in Person now. I am also very glad to connect with you, seems like I have known you since my childhood.
    Love Ash.

  4. It's still raining here and I am craving this right now. First time to your blog and I must say your recipes look wonderful manasi.

  5. Simply mouthwatering and tempting koftas.

  6. wow that's looks super tempting ...lovely pics

  7. This is really an interesting recipe..nice and rich sauce.

  8. I'm amazed at the range of things that are eaten with sambar and coconut chutney and the number of people who would do it. I'm from the South myself but as accompaniments, these were pretty rare at home, each 'tiffin' came with its own set of relishes - I think this combination is a routine and favourite only in a couple of States.

    The kofta dish looks really good!

  9. I'm amazed at the range of things that can be eaten with sambar and coconut chutney, and amazed at the number of people who would do it. I'm South Indian myself, but in my place, they are not traditional, there are other options for 'tiffins' and snacks - peanut chutney, ginger chutney, podis, etc. I think this combination is a favourite and routine only in a couple of States. Of course, there's no doubt it's the most popular whenever idli and dosa are mentioned across India.

    Your kofta-gravy looks so good.

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