Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sukha Aloo (Indian-spiced sauteed potatoes)

I so wish this picture was scratch 'n sniff so that you could savor the aromas of the sukha aloo (Hindi for dry potatoes). Think perfectly seasoned potatoes with a nicely formed crust of ground coriander and dried mango powder and dusted with roasted cumin, mustard, and coriander seeds. This dish is inspired by my mom's sukha aloo, a favorite lunchtime dish served with hot pooris, fried flatbread. The amchur (dried mango powder) adds a certain tartness/sourness to the dish that is unmatchable by lemon, tamarind, or vinegar. I love using whole spices in a dry dish- it adds a noticeable texture to every bite as opposed to grinding the spices into powder.

Sukha aloo is a prime example of why I love cooking Indian food... you start with the simplest ingredients and create phenomenal, hearty dishes full of complex flavors that satisfy your cravings in a ridiculously healthy way. Seriously it will blow your expectations of potatoes out of the water.

If you cannot find amchur (it is available at Indian grocery stores), you may substitute lemon juice. I used 2 large russet potatoes because it was what I had on hand, but I recommend using any variety of potato that will keep shape after boiling, such as fingerling, new potatoes, or round white potatoes.

Sukha Aloo (Indian-spiced Sauteed Potatoes)
1.5 lb potatoes
2 tbsp canola oil
pinch of hing (asofetida)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 serrano chili, seeded and quartered lengthwise
1/2" ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (add 1 tsp for a spicier dish)
2 tbsp + 1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tbsp + 1/2 tsp amchur (dried mango powder)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Boil potatoes (or microwave) until can pierce with a fork through the center. Do not overcook. Let cool. Peel and cut into large 3/4" to 1" chunks. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Once oil is hot and shimmery, add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and coriander seeds. Once the mustard seeds start to pop, add a pinch of asofetida. Add ginger and green chili, skin side down. Let cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add potatoes. Season with salt and spices- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 2 tbsp coriander powder, and 1/2 tbsp mango powder. Stir to coat evenly. Reduce heat to low. Cover skillet with lid, cooking for 5-10 minutes until potatoes are soft.

Once potatoes are done, remove lid and turn heat up to high. Drizzle with a squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice, stir. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tsp of coriander powder and 1/2 tsp mango powder. Stir to distribute spices. Cook uncovered for another 2-3 minutes to crisp the potatoes.

Remove from heat. Serve with plain yogurt.

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