Even though diabetes is spreading like a plague in India and especially in the Eastern part, we Bengalis are yet to leave the habit of using potatoes. Be that macher jhol-e aloo (potatoes in fish curry) or a simple aloo chokha (mashed potatoes with onion and pepper) potatoes are everywhere. Even though half my family have to take either insulin shots or pills, I couldn’t leave out potatoes from my diet. Potatoes are an integral part of Bengali cuisine.
A Sunday breakfast is never complete without a dose of luchi (fried Indian bread) and aloor dum. And, when it comes to talking about potatoes in Bengali recipes leaving out the oh-so-soft potatoes in mangsher jhol (goat curry) will be like blasphemy. Potatoes are everywhere in Bangali ranna, we like them in almost all our dishes and the aloo posto is a signature dish of Bengal.
While other Indian communities do not use potatoes so much, I came across this recipe in a very old cooking magazine long time back. I have searched for Kashmiri recipes for alu dum, but they were all very different. I main reason why I chose to use this old recipe was because they used poppy paste – one of my favorite spices in the kitchen. People from Kashmir are voracious meat eaters and owe them for inventing the famous rogan josh. There are also vegetarian recipes available in Kashmiri cuisine and this aloo dum is one of my favorites.
Wash the potatoes and boil with peeling the skin for 7 to 10 minutes or till they are almost cooked.
Drain the water and let them come to a temperature where you can touch. Peel the potatoes. Sprinle a pinch of turmeric and salt
Heat half the oil in a thick bottom vessel and lightly fry the potatoes till there are a few blisters on them.
Take out, and keep over a kitchen towel to drain the excess oil
Pour in the extra oil and heat. Add the onion paste and fry till the onion is fragrant and oil starts separating. Add all the powdered spices, ginger garlic paste and fry for a minute. Add the potatoes and toss well to coat the spices. Season with salt.
Cook while stirring in between till the spices change to a darker color. Pour water and cook till the potatoes are almost done.
Add the poppy and cashew paste and cook for 4 to 5 minutes more. Sprinkle the ground garam masala and the raisins if using. Serve hot with chapati or white rice.
Hot Tips – You can also use large potatoes instead of the baby ones. Cut them in quarters and follow the same instructions. I have used ordinary chili powder to have a more spicier taste, but you can also use Kashmiri red chili powder. The Kashmiri chili powder gives an extra color to the recipe and unlike other peppers it is less hot.
My connection to Chittagong and that of Bangladesh is that my grandparents lived half their lives in the land. Both my parents were born and brought up in Kolkata and so we never had the chance to visit our city of origin.
Growing up, I have heard my father speaking to his sibling is Chatgaiyya bhasa (Chittagong language), but I still can’t figure out what they say :). The language may be as hard as learning Mandarin to me, but I have heard storied from my grandfather about the beautiful beaches and the picturesque countryside and I wish to visit it someday. As, for now I am happy with the rich and spicy dish this port city of Bangladesh has to offer – the morichut and of course the shutki maach.
While looking for a new chicken recipe last week, I came across this Chittagong chicken recipe. Though while growing up I have had quite a few different type of Chittagong recipes, but never had the chance to have this chicken dish – probably because of the fact that chicken was a no-no till the time my grandfather was around.
The recipe asked for marinading the chicken in roasted ground cilantro seeds and dry red chilies. While roasting the two spices, I was so overjoyed with the flavor that loomed my kitchen, that I just couldn’t wait to taste the chicken. I deviated a little from the original recipe – added a few potatoes and kept the gravy a little runny – because that’s how my man likes his Sunday chicken.
2lbs medium size chicken pieces
2 large potatoes, cut into half
½ of an onion, slivered finely
½ onion made to a paste
6 dry red chilies
2 tablespoon whole cilantro seeds
1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
2 tablespoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 tablespoon cashew paste
4 tablespoon mustard oil
1 teaspoon garam masala
Salt to taste
Dry roast 4 red chilies and the whole cilantro seeds; grind them in a spice grinder.
Put the chicken in a large glass bowl, add half of the roasted spices, and 1 tablespoon garlic paste massage the chicken with it. Add half the turmeric, little salt and about 1 tablespoon of mustard oil. Cover with a plastic wrap and marinate for at least an hour or keep it in the bottom rack of the fridge overnight.
If you have kept the chicken in the fridge, take it out well before you start cooking so that it comes down to room temperature.
Heat oil in the wok. Add a pinch of turmeric and salt to the potatoes and fry in the oil till they turn slightly brown in a few places. Take out and keep aside.
In the left over oil add the slivered onions and the 2 red chiles and fry till they turn light brown. Add the chicken, onion paste, turmeric, chili powder, garlic paste and stir well to mix all the spices well. Season with salt.
Let the chicken cook over high flame, till the spices turn darker in color. Keep stirring so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Pour about 2 cups of warm water to the chicken, and add the fried potatoes. Cook covered till the chicken is cooked and potatoes are soft. Add the cashew paste and cook for a minute.
Sprinkle the extra dry ground spices and garam masala. Serve with roti or rice.
Hot Tips – Don’t worry about the heat from the chilies, it is much reduced by the cashew paste and also by using the Kashmiri red chili powder, the color turns good and the heat is also less.