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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Aloo Banjara

I was picking tomatoes in the backyard on Diwali day and noticed unusual bumps in the soil. I looked at it from all the sides, but couldn't guess what it was. For a minute I thought it was some kind of eggs. After doing the guess work for almost 5 minutes I decided to put gloves on and touch it. And started laughing at my own silliness. Few months ago few of the potatoes sprouted in the pantry. Instead of removing the spouts or throwing the whole potato in the trashcan, I decided to plant them. Same week I planted tomato seedlings in the same planter box. Obviously I had forgotten all about the potatoes I had planted. But these potatoes survived and flourished without me paying any attention to them. I dug through the whole area and got almost all the potatoes out. Crop was about 1/2 to 3/4th pound.

Raw material from the backyard 
 Potatoes from the backyard

I wanted to make something special with these potatoes. I had bookmarked this wonderful recipe on Maayboli by one of my favorite photo blogger Abhijit. He is one of the most talented photographers I know. He has shared few recipes on Maayboli and his recipe writing style is very catchy :) This particular dish 'Aloo Banjara', he saw on TV and remembered the ingredients and general procedure and reproduced it and immediately shared with us. What is so special about this dish? It has potatoes, dill, lentils and the most important thing - a clay pot. It doesn't need any special spices. That clay pot gives it a unique flavor to the dish. My house was filled with aroma when I made it.

I do not own a clay pot but the Indian store close by does sell 'Chatti' so I went there couple of times but they were out and their shipment had not arrived yet. So I asked a very dear friend 'A' if I can use hers. She was kind enough to lend it me. Thanks A!!! I owe you one Aloo Banjara.

Cooking in the clay pot 
Cooking in the clay pot

So here is quick and easy recipe (This is just rough translation of original Marathi recipe by Abhijit)

7-8 Baby Potatoes
1 Small Onion Roughly Sliced
1 tsp Finely Chopped Ginger
1 tsp Finely Chopped Garlic
1/2 cup Soaked Lentils (I used sprouted)
1/2 cup Finely Chopped Dill
2-3 tbsp Chopped Cilantro
1 tsp Garam Masala
2 Dried Red Chilies (Byadagi)
1 tsp Coriander Powder
1 tsp Cumin Powder
1 tsp Red Chili Powder (Kashmiri red chili powder is preferred for the color) or per taste
Salt per Taste
Pinch of Hing and Turmeric Powder
1/2 Tomato chopped
1 tsp Jaggery
2-3 tbsp Oil

aloo Banjara in a dish

Preparation -
Make sure your clay pot is ready to be used for cooking. Read instructions about using it before you start cooking. Use the eat diffuser if you are scared of using it on direct heat like me.
Peel the potatoes and prick them using fork. Soak pricked potatoes in cold water with little salt.
Heat oil in the clay pot on medium heat. Add chopped ginger and garlic and saute until golden brown.
Now add hing, turmeric powder, red chillies, garam masala, red chili powder, cumin-coriander powders and saute for a minute or so.
Add sliced onion saute but you don't need to saute until golden brown.
Add sprouts, chopped dill and soaked potatoes.
Add water until everything is covered with water and and about an inch above.
Add salt and cilantro.
Cover and cook till the potatoes are half cooked.
Now add chopped tomatoes and jaggery. Cover and cook thoroughly.
Serve with chapatis or steaming rice.

Finished Dish in the dish made by me
Final Product in the handi I made

Tips -
  • You can use the any nonstick pan if you do not have access to a clay pot but it will be with lack of special 'earthen flavor'.
  • You can buy the clay pot here.
  • Even though the list of ingredients is pretty long, its every Indian household usually has on hand.
  • Please do not use soap to clean the vessel instead use boiling water and salt. Then heat the pot in the Sun. 
  • Never heat clay pot on high heat as it might break while cooking.

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9 comments:

  1. The first photo of curry looks delicious, yummy
    Will try this one day :)

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  2. Minoti,
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe! Pictures are looking great!
    Thanks for your kind words of appreciation! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sounds interesting....will try this soon....

    ReplyDelete
  4. Mints, what a lovely surprise those potatoes must have been! :)
    The dish sounds incredibly delicious.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hey Mints, this is such a lovely recipe and love the potato surprize! though if I had planted them, I would keep poking at them every other week to see if they are making any progress, guess i am just impatient that way :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Looks yummy. potato always tastes good. Hope it doesnt add more to my weight. Thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi just came across your blog and I'm planning to prepare this one. Can you please let me know which dal you mean when you say lentil. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Indira, lentil means Whole Masoor.

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