My mother is the greatest cook in the world. I don’t mean that in the way that people say it because they want their mother to keep feeding them. No, I mean it and it’s true.
I’ve traveled up and down India from the North to the South and I’ve had some AMAZING meals but no one on earth cooks quite like my mother. She has a way of putting things together that makes flavours pop and like a real chef who is true to the taste, she never compromises on ingredients.
A few years back I took it upon myself to wrestle the recipes out of her. She flatly told me, “If you want to learn how to cook, then just cook.”
A few years after that I sat down with her and watched her cook. I took out my handy recipe log book, started writing down ingredients and dutifully watched her as she cobbled something together.
“Momma, how much of that did you put in?”
“I don’t know.”
“Would you say it’s a teaspoon?”
“How the heck would I know? Just do it.”
“What is that?”
“You put that in before. Are you putting it in again?”
“Why? How do you know you need more? You didn’t taste it.”
“I just know.”
And just like that, I figured my dream of cooking like my mother was over. I can’t look at a pot of simmering oil and ‘just know’ if it needs more of this or that. So I gave up.
Then, this last year, I started cooking more at home than ever before. I made a friend of mine some of my mother’s potatoes and she went crazy over them.
“Can you give me the recipe?” she asked.
“Uh…I didn’t measure anything when I made it.”
“Then how do you know what to put in?”
“I just know.”
There it was. Just like that, I had turned into my mother.
Now I’m shadowing her like a crazed woman trying to permanently capture her essence and hopefully pass along some of her insanely good cooking to the masses while also mentally noting exactly how much of this or that I put into things. I’m still by ALL means a novice at cooking so if you are looking for professional recipes that are tried and true, you’ve come to the wrong place. If you want to go on an Indian/Fusion cooking adventure, then strap it on (I had to say that), cause we’re about to go full masala-mental up in here!
In the vein of keeping it simple dimple desi, my first recipe is for Lal Badadas, or “Red Potatoes”. I use store bought chutneys to enhance the flavour cause I ain’t got time to be squishing out tamarind into a sauce and quite frankly, I’ve done it before and the feeling is oddly disturbing. I’m not sure why 🙂
Start by boiling your potatoes. Then, after they have cooled, remove the skin and cut into small pieces (not too small, as my Momma says, because then they’ll crumble and you’ll have Lal Mush).
Heat oil in pan. Add minced ginger and garlic. Heat it up till it smells absolutely fragrant in your kitchen. The scent will linger in the air, attach itself to your clothes and become something you appreciate as an adult.
Then add half a small can of tomato paste. My blob of paste ended up looking suspiciously like an Angry Bird. Not sure why…
Be sure to brown the tomato paste. You’re cooking away the tomato sweetness and infusing it with the garlic and ginger. Then add your dried spices (see below for full recipe).
Looks yummy, right?? Then stir it until it turns into a nice ‘gravy’.
Then add those boiled potatoes into the pan, stirring them GENTLY, over and under the sauce.
You can’t tell, but I’m being really gentle with those potatoes (while stopping to take a picture of course).
Once you have them all coated, then let the sauce infuse itself into the potatoes (about five minutes).
After about five minutes of stirring GENTLY every now and again, add your Tamarind Chutney and Date Chutney. See the cheat bottles below.
At this point, add salt to taste (suggestion below) and let simmer on LOW for about ten minutes. Garnish with coriander when you serve it or else my mother will be upset. Coriander is her world.
BLAM! I’ve made these for more than a few summertime BBQs when not bringing along my trademark samosas. These potatoes are as spicy hot as you want them to be and deliciously flavourful.
I gave some to my mother as the final test of my ability. She smiled and nodded when she said, “Not bad. Not bad at all.”
Then a few minutes later, “But it needs more salt.”
I’LL TAKE IT!
6 potatoes boiled with skin removed
3 -4 TBSP oil (not olive, use canola or safflower)
2 Tsps minced garlic (store bought, or do it au natural, your choice)
1 1/2 TSPS minced ginger (my mother made mine so I kinda cheated here too)
1 TSP ground coriander powder
3/4 TSP ground cumin
1/4 TSP ground garam masala
2 TSP red chili powder (this is totally optional and dependent upon the heat you or your guests can take – don’t hurt anyone!)
1/2 small can of tomato paste
4 TBSP Tamarind Chutney
4 TBSP Date Chutney
Salt to taste (I never add enough apparently)
To make these potatoes – heat up oil in frying pan on medium heat. Add garlic and ginger, let simmer until the flavour leaks out into the air. You’ll know. Then add dried spices. Simmer and allow them to heat up a bit. Add your tomato paste. Stir it up until the oil begins to separate a bit and the tomato paste darkens slightly. *add a little water here (about 3 TBSPs) to make the curry less thick* Add potatoes. GENTLY stir the sauce over the potatoes. Simmer for about five minutes. Add Tamarind and Date chutneys. Add salt to taste. Simmer for another ten minutes. The oil will have separated and your potatoes should be super yummy! If not, try again. 🙂