By Rinku Battacharaya @wchestermasala & online at: cookinginwestchester.com
I love autumn! The crisp and cool weather with all the bright colors around is cheery and festive. It takes me to the kitchen in a quest of simplicity and comfort. The autumn calendar also brings with it loads of festivals. Halloween, Diwali and Thanksgiving all form a happy food landscape and then we merge into year-end parties.
I love small plates and munchies all year round, but in particular during fall and winter. Holiday celebrations especially the Indian holidays for me are more about the savory than the sweet.
In my world, nothing says sharing and caring more than comfort foods and snacks.
The cooler weather is also the time for roots and squashes, if you are a seasonal foodie and potato lover like me – this is your time of the year. Potatoes are one of my many food weaknesses and this time of the year, I can actually justify eating them in the name of seasonal eating. Potatoes are found in Indian snacks and fritters cooked in a cornucopia of different ways, spiced, diced, fried and flavored. I might be biased, but few things showcase the magic of essential fresh spices more that the clean and comforting base of potatoes.
Today’s recipe is as common as it gets and addictive as it gets. The Aloo Tikki or spicy potato cakes are a north Indian specialty. There are many ways to diversify these rather simple and exceedingly delectable potato cakes today’s version is very much the basic and essential variation. This recipe is from my mother in law’s table. She has a key ingredient – amchoor or powdered dried green mangoes, and fairly strict rule of thumb where she does not dilute the potatoes with any additional flour or binding.
The key to getting the right balance of smoothness and crunch is to use the right kind of potatoes (russets tend to work for me) and no binding. This ensures a crisp crust that is all about the magic of crusty crisp potatoes. The oil temperature needs to be right and the tikkis need to be cooked without overcrowding the skillet and wok. They are best served with green mint or coriander chutney, another very basic recipe and you can find a version here.
This recipe is great for Diwali or any other event you are celebrating and here is wishing you and yours all the happiness of the upcoming season of fun and festivities. In fact, I have also seen these feature on the breakfast table with some whipped yogurt on the side.
Alu Tikki – Lightly Spiced Potato Cakes
Prep Time: 10 minutes plus 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Makes: 20 4-inch cakes
- 5 medium-sized russet potatoes
- Salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon red cayenne powder
- 1 teaspoon amchoor or dried mango powder (if you do not have this around, add in 1 tablespoon of fresh lime or lemon juice and add in 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour to the potato binding)
- 11/2 teaspoons cumin coriander powder
- 2 tablespoons minced cilantro
- Oil for frying
Method of Preparation
1. Cut the russet potatoes and boil them in their jackets for about 15 minutes until they are soft but not mushy.
2. Drain them in a colander and cool.
3. Peel the potatoes and mash with the salt, cayenne, amchoor, cilantro.
4. Shape into cakes and let them rest in the refrigerator.
5. Heal the oil in a wide bottomed wok and when they are well heated, add the cakes about 4 at a time, they should have enough room to cook without crowding each other.
6. Let them cook for about 4 minutes, undisturbed until a nice and crisp crust is formed. Turn the cakes and cook on the other side until well crisped.
7. Drain on paper towels and serve.
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