Bajra Adai| Pearl Millet & Lentil Pancakes

Love adai, the quintessentially South Indian savoury pancakes? We definitely love them to bits. Here’s presenting Bajra Adai, a version of these pancakes made using pearl millet instead of the parboiled rice that is typically used in them. They’re every bit as delicious as the regular rice-based adai, filled with the same goodness of multiple lentils plus the many health benefits that bajra has to offer.

Bajra Adai

A bit about these Bajra Adai

I have subbed the parboiled rice used in regular adai for bajra aka pearl millet, like I was saying earlier. These days, there are several varieties of broken millets (millet rava) available in supermarkets for making upma, and I have used bajra rava from a brand called Health Sutra to make these adai. You could use whole bajra as well, too.

These Bajra Adai are completely vegetarian and vegan, suitable to those following a plant-based diet. If you wish to make them gluten-free, simply skip the asafoetida used in the recipe. Most Indian brands of asafoetida do contain wheat flour, to a greater or lesser extent, and are best avoided when following a gluten-free diet.

These zero-rice Bajra Adai are perfect for those who wish to cut down on the amount of rice they consume, for various reasons.

Millet Magic at Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

I’m sharing this recipe with the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, a group of food bloggers that I’m part of. Every month, the members of the group share recipes based on a pre-determined theme. The members are paired together, and each pair gives each other two ingredients to cook with.

The theme for this month is Millet Magic, wherein all of us are showcasing foods made using various types of millets. The theme was suggested by the very talented Aruna of Vasu’s Veg Kitchen.

Sujata, another talented blogger at Batter Up With Sujata, was my partner for the month. She assigned me the ‘chana dal‘ and ‘bajra‘, and I decided to use them to make these Bajra Adai.

Some interesting millet-based recipes

Looking forward to introducing more millets in your diet? I have some interesting recipes to share with you guys, apart from the Bajra Adai recipe I’m going to share today, of course.

Aruna has a number of lovely millet recipes in her blog, of which this Ragi Puttu and Ragi Peanuts Laddoo caught my eye. Can’t wait to try them out!

Sujata has several millet-based recipes on her blog, too, including some unique bakes. You should definitely check out her Potato & Barnyard Millet Cutlets, Fennel Oats & Millet Cookies and Rose-Flavoured Bajra Nankhatai.

Meanwhile, do also go through the recipes for Bajra Pesarettu, Ragi Rotti and Ragi Vermicelli Salad on my blog.

Bajra Adai recipe

Here’s how I make the Bajra Adai.
Ingredients (makes about 12):

1. 1 cup bajra upma rava or broken bajra
2. 1/4 cup toor dal
3. 1/4 cup urad dal
4. 1/4 cup chana dal
5. 3-4 dry red chillies or as per taste
6. A 1-inch piece of ginger
7. 2 pinches of asafoetida
8. Salt to taste
9. 1 sprig fresh curry leaves
10. Oil, as needed to make the adai

Method:

1. Wash the bajra rava well under running water. Drain out all the water. Now, soak it in enough fresh water to cover it, for 8-10 hours or overnight.

2. Similarly, wash the toor dal, urad dal and chana dal well, and drain out all the water. Soak the toor dal and chana dal together and the urad dal separately, in fresh water, for 8-10 hours or overnight.

3. When the bajra rava and the dals are done soaking, drain out all the water from them. Now, we will start grinding the batter.

4. Take the soaked and drained urad dal in a mixer jar. Peel the ginger, chop roughly and add to the mixer jar too. Break the dry red chillies roughly and add to the mixer jar too. Grind everything together to a smooth paste, stopping at intervals to scrape down the sides of the mixer jar and mix up the ingredients. You may add a little water to make the grinding easier. Transfer the ground batter to a large vessel.

5. Now, transfer the soaked and drained bajra rava to the mixer jar. Grind to a smooth batter, using a little water if needed. Stop at intervals to scrape down the sides of the mixer jar and to mix up the rava. When a smooth batter is ready, transfer it to the same large vessel.

6. Now, grind the soaked toor dal and chana dal together, in the same way. Grind these a little coarse, at intervals, adding some water if required. Transfer the ground batter to the same vessel.

7. Add salt to taste, curry leaves and asafoetida to the vessel too. Mix the batter up thoroughly. Your Bajra Adai batter is ready to use immediately. If you want to, you may leave it out for a few hours for it to get a bit sour – which makes for more delicious adai.

8. When you want to make the adai, get a thick dosa pan nice and hot. Then, reduce the flame to medium. Place a ladleful of the batter in the centre of the pan, and spread it out into a circle using the back of the ladle. Drizzle some oil around the circle. Let it cook on medium flame till it browns on the bottom, then flip it over and cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side too. Transfer the Bajra Adai to a serving plate, and serve hot with chutney or any other accompaniment of your choice.

9. Prepare adai using all the batter, in the same manner.

Tips & Tricks

1. Adai batter doesn’t really need fermentation. It can be used immediately after grinding.

2. I prefer leaving the batter out for a few hours after grinding, for it to get a little sour, if not ferment. I feel the adais are much more delicious when the batter is a bit sour.

3. You can use green chillies while grinding, instead of the dry red chillies I have used here.

4. Finely chopped onion can be added to the batter too, after grinding. Alternatively, finely chopped onions can be sprinkled over the adai once the batter has been spread out on the pan.

5. The Bajra Adai batter stays well for 3-4 days when refrigerated. Use as needed.

6. A few cloves of garlic can also be added in, while grinding the batter.

7. You may add in a little water, if the adai batter feels too thick.

8. I have used the moderately spicy Bydagi dry red chillies here. You can use any variety you prefer. Adjust the quantity of chillies you use, depending upon your taste preferences.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Besan Cheela| Pudla| Savoury Gram Flour Pancakes

When you think about pancakes, the picture that almost always comes to mind is that of a stack of pillowy, sweet discs, topped with loads of maple syrup or honey, sometimes with whipped cream and fresh fruits. There are, however, SO MANY other variety of pancakes out there! Today, I’m going to share with you all one such pancake recipe – Savoury Gram Flour Pancakes, more commonly known in North India as Besan Cheela. The Gujaratis know these as Pudla.

So, what exactly is a pancake?

A pancake is a cake – thick or thin – made on a griddle or pan of some sort. Batter, either sweet or savoury, is poured over a pan and allowed to cook. The batter may be of the instant variety – prepared just before cooking the pancakes – or it may be readied in advance and allowed to ferment.

Pancake varieties from around the world

Different countries have different versions of pancakes. The sweet pancakes described above are hugely popular in the USA, for instance. Then there are French Crepes, Italian Crespelle and Farinata, Vietnamese Banh Xeo, Jewish Potato Latke, Malaysian Apam Balik and Banana Roti from Thailand.

India has several varieties of pancakes too. Pudla or Besan Cheela, as mentioned above, Appam and Pathiri from Kerala, Patishapta from West Bengal, Dosa, Adai and Uttappam from Tamilnadu, Pesarettu and Sarvapindi from Andhra Pradesh, Alle Belle from Goa and Pitha from the North-East are some examples.

More about Besan Cheela or Pudla

These Besan Cheela or Pudla are savoury pancakes, extremely delicious ones at that. They are made with gram flour aka besan (usually powdered split Bengal gram or chana dal), which is slightly different from chickpea flour or garbanzo flour (powdered black or white chickpeas). I believe besan and chickpea flour can be used interchangeably, but I have never used the latter. Besan is what is commonly available in India, and is used in a variety of sweet and savoury dishes.

Coming back to the Besan Cheela or Pudla, they are super easy to make and quite nutritious too, full of the goodness of gram flour. Here, I have added veggies too, to make them more flavourful and healthy. These gram flour pancakes are completely vegetarian and gluten-free. I have used some curd here, but you can skip it completely in case you want to prepare a vegan version.

Savoury Gram Flour Pancakes for Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

This post is brought to you in association with Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, a fantastic group of food bloggers that I’m part of. Members of the group cook as per a pre-determined theme every month. We form pairs, and each pair exchanges two ingredients which should be used in the dish. Isn’t that so very interesting?

The theme for the group this month is ‘Pancakes’, wherein all of us are presenting different types. The theme was suggested by Archana of The Mad Scientist’s Kitchen. Archana has a wonderful blog, full of recipes for healthy foods, traditional Goan dishes and various baked confections. Her Mango Fool recipe has been on my to-do list for quite some time now, as has her Kande Pohe and Chana Cho Ros.

Archana happens to be my partner for the month too, and she assigned me the ingredients ‘gram flour’ and ‘onions’ to work with. I chose to use them in these Savoury Gram Flour Pancakes. You must check out the gorgeous, fluffy Japanese Souffle Pancakes Archana made using the two secret ingredients I gave her – vanilla and milk!

How to make Besan Cheela aka Pudla or Savoury Gram Flour Pancakes

Here’s how I go about it.

Ingredients (makes about 10 pancakes):

  1. 1 cup gram flour (besan)
  2. Salt to taste
  3. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  4. Red chilli powder to taste
  5. 1/2 cup thick curd
  6. 1 small onion
  7. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
  8. 1 small carrot
  9. 1 small snack pepper
  10. 3/4 to 1 cup water
  11. Oil, as needed to make the pancakes
  12. Tomato ketchup, as needed to serve the pancakes (optional)

Method:

1. Take the gram flour in a big mixing bowl. Add in the salt, red chilli powder and turmeric powder.

2. Chop the onion finely. Reserve some chopped onions for garnishing later. Add the rest to the mixing bowl.

3. Reserve some chopped coriander for garnishing later. Add in the rest to the mixing bowl.

4. Peel and grate the carrot. Reserve some for garnishing later and add the rest to the mixing bowl.

5. Chop the snack pepper finely. Add to the mixing bowl.

6. Add the curd to the mixing bowl too.

7. Now, add 3/4 to 1 cup water to make a lump-free batter that has a pourable consistency. The batter should be runny, but not watery. Let the batter sit, covered, for 10-15 minutes.

8. When the batter has rested, we will start making the pancakes. Place a heavy pan on high flame and get it nice and hot. Now, turn the flame down to medium. Pour a ladle full of the batter in the centre of the pan. Spread it out using the back of the ladle. Drizzle some oil all around the pancake. Cook till the pancake starts browning on the bottom and appears mostly done on the top. Take care to ensure that it does not burn. At this stage, flip over the pancake and cook for about a minute on the other side. Now, transfer to a serving plate.

9. Drizzle some tomato ketchup over the pancake (optional). Garnish with the leftover grated carrot and finely chopped coriander and onion. Serve immediately.

10. Prepare pancakes from all the batter in a similar fashion.

Tips & Tricks

1. Use curd that is sour but not overly so. I used home-made thick curd.

2. I have used home-made tomato ketchup here. You can use a store-bought version, instead, too.

3. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the pancake batter.

4. I have used a snack pepper from Gourmet Garden here. Gourmet Garden is a farm that grows zero-pesticide vegetables and greens hydroponically, and delivers all over Bangalore. I have been using some of their veggies, and marvelling at how very fresh and delicious they are. To read my review of Gourmet Garden produce, on Instagram, head here. I would highly suggest you check them out! Use my code TGND30 to get a 30% discount on your first order with Gourmet Garden!

5. You may use finely chopped capsicum instead of the snack pepper.

6. Finely chopped green chillies can be added to the batter too. I chose to use red chilli powder instead.

7. The turmeric and red chilli powder in the batter can be substituted with dried Italian herbs. You may or may not use the curd in this case, making the batter entirely with water.

8. Some people add a little baking soda or Eno Fruit Salt to make the pancakes softer. I don’t.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Tomato Khejur Aamshotter Chaatni| Bengali Tomato, Dates And Mango Leather Chutney

Today, let me introduce you to a long-time favourite condiment of mine – Tomato Khejur Amshotter Chaatni. This is a Bengali chutney – chaatni in the local language – made using tomatoes, dates (khejur) and aam papad or mango leather (aamshotto). Like Bengali chaatnis are, this one too is a riot of flavours, sweet and sour and salty and spicy. Beauty!

Tomato Khejur Aamshotter Chaatni

My tryst with Bengali cuisine

I was introduced to proper Bengali food, including some amazing chutneys, on a holiday in Calcutta, a few years ago. Life hasn’t been the same ever since. The trip expanded my knowledge of Bengali cuisine, much beyond what I had tasted in Durga Pooja pandals in Bangalore. It was in the course of this holiday that I started loving the versatile spicy-sweet-tangy chutneys that the Bengalis prepare, and even learnt how to make some of them myself. It was my initiation into Bengali vegetarian cooking. Now, Tomato Khejur Aamshotter Chaatni, Anarosher Chaatni, Bhoger Khichuri, Aloor Dom and Bhapa Doi are as much a part of our meals at home as sambar, rasam, dosa, idli, phulkas, undhiyu, Gujarati dal and kadhi are. 🙂

West Bengal cuisine for Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

The Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge is a group of food bloggers, who cook dishes from a particular region of India, every month. All the participanting members are paired up, and every pair exchanges two ingredients which they will go on to use to cook a dish belonging to that month’s region. Interesting, right?

This month, the members of the Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge are showcasing dishes from the state of West Bengal, a state known for delectable things like Rosogulla, Sondesh, Chhanar Dalna, Shukto, Dhokar Dalna, Puchka, Mochar Ghonto and Chorchori. I was paired with the talented blogger Seema of Mildly Indian this month, who assigned me the two ingredients of ‘tomatoes’ and ‘salt’. The ingredients were just right to prepare my favourite Tomato Khejur Aamshotter Chaatni, and so that’s what I decided to put up.

Seema’s blog, BTW, is a treasure trove of beautiful recipes from around the world, including some really unique dishes. Her Nadru Palak Sabzi, Bhindi Pulao and Jackfruit Rind Curry have been playing on my mind – can’t wait to try them out! Her blog is something you must definitely check out. While you are at it, do visit the lovely West Bengal dish that she prepared using the two ingredients I assigned her.

How to make Tomato Khejur Aamshotter Chaatni

Here’s how I prepare the chaatni, based on what I learnt from the kind staff at the hotel we stayed at in Kolkata, all those years ago.

This is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation, suited to those on a plant-based diet. It is a gluten-free dish too.

Ingredients (serves 6-8):

  1. 6 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
  2. 10-12 dates
  3. 1 tablespoon raisins
  4. 2 big pieces of dried mango (aam papad or mango leather)
  5. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  6. 1/2 tablespoon mustard oil
  7. 1 teaspoon panch phoron
  8. 2 small bay leaves
  9. 4-5 dry red chillies
  10. 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  11. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  12. 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder or to taste
  13. 6-7 tablespoons jaggery powder or to taste
  14. Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste
  15. 1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin powder or to taste

Method:

Top left: The ingredients needed for the chaatni, Top right: Step 1, Bottom left and right: Steps 2 and 3

1. Chop the tomatoes finely. Keep aside.

2. Remove seeds from the dates and chop them into large pieces. Also, chop the mango leather into large pieces too. Keep aside.

3. Peel the ginger. Grate finely or cut into thin slivers. Keep aside.

Top left and right: Steps 4 and 5, Centre: Step 6, Bottom left and right: Steps 7 and 8

4. Heat the mustard oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the panch phoron, and allow it to sputter. Now, add in the bay leaves and dry red chillies. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

5. Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan, along with a bit of salt. Reduce heat to medium. Cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes or till the tomatoes start turning mushy. Stir intermittently.

6. Now, add in the chopped dates and mango leather, the grated/slivered ginger, raisins, salt to taste, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and jaggery powder. Mix well.

7. Continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes on medium flame, or till the chutney starts thickening and getting glossy. Switch off gas when it is thick, but still a bit on the runny side.

8. Mix in the lemon juice and roasted cumin powder. Your Tamatar Khejurer Chaatni is ready.

9. Allow the chutney to cool down fully before transferring it to a clean, dry, air-tight container. Use as needed, and keep it refrigerated otherwise. The chaatni can be served with khichuri or as part of a complete Bengali meal. We love having it as an accompaniment with rotis or plain parathas too.

Tips & Tricks

1. Use the more flavourful and tart country or ‘Nati‘ tomatoes, as opposed to the ‘farm’ variety to make this chutney.

2. If the tomatoes are too tart, you can skip using the lemon juice.

3. Sugar can be used instead of jaggery powder. I prefer using jaggery powder.

4. Adjust the quantity of red chilli powder and jaggery as per personal taste preferences. Remember that you are also using raisins, dates and mango leather in the chutney, all of which have sweetness in them already.

5. In a traditional Tamatar Khejurer Chaatni, mustard oil is used, so I went ahead and used it too. You may use any other variety of oil if you so prefer.

6. Switch off the gas when the chutney is still runny. It gets thicker as it cools.

7. Slivers of cashewnuts can be used in the Tamatar Khejurer Chaatni too. Here, I haven’t.

8. Transfer the chutney to a clean, dry, air-tight container only after it has cooled down fully. This chutney is best refrigerated when not in use. Stored in a refrigerator and used hygienically, it stays well for 7-10 days.

9. To make roasted cumin powder – Take a couple of tablespoons of cumin and dry roast them in a heavy-bottomed pan till fragrant, taking care to ensure that it does not burn. Allow it to cool down fully and then coarsely crush in a small mixer jar. Store in a dry, air-tight bottle and use as needed.

10. ‘Panch phoron‘ – a mix of the five spices of mustard, fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds, cumin and fennel seeds – is used for tempering in this chaatni. I buy the panch phoron ready to use, but you can mix the five ingredients yourself too, if you so prefer.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Aloo Ke Gutke| Pahadi Aloo

I’m here today with the recipe for Aloo Ke Gutke, a curry made using potatoes from the state of Uttarakhand.

A bit about Uttarakhand and its cuisine

Uttarakhand is a state in the north of India, nestled in the Himalayan mountains. The state was carved out of Uttar Pradesh in the year 2007, with Dehradun being its capital. Uttarakhand boasts of several tourist destinations like the ski resort of Auli, the Jim Corbett National Park, the Valley of Flowers, the hill stations of Dehradun and Mussoorie, the famous trekking site of Roopkund. It is also referred to as ‘Land of the Gods’, as it is home to many pilgrimage spots like Haridwar, Rishikesh, Badrinath, Kedarnath and Piran Kaliyar Sharif.

The food of Uttarakhand is simple and honest, yet bursting with flavours. Wheat is the staple here, with several locally grown grains like maize, mandua (buckwheat), bhatt (soyabean) and gahat (horsegram) also occupying pride of place in meals. Vegetables play an important role in Uttarakhand cuisine, including many local varieties like bicchu ghaas (nettles), bhaang (cannabis) seeds and lingru (fiddlehead ferns). Chainsoo, Bhaang Ki Chutney, Kandalee Ka Saag, Dubuk, Kafuli, Aloo Ke Gutke, Mandua Ki Roti and Phaanu are some of the most popular dishes in Uttarakhand.

Information courtesy: Wikipedia

What are Aloo Ke Gutke?

Like I was saying earlier, Aloo Ke Gutke refers to a type of potato curry made in the state of Uttarakhand. It is a very simple preparation, one that uses minimal ingredients and can be made within a matter of minutes. That said, it is quite flavourful and delicious!

Aloo Ke Gutke – also called Pahadi Aloo – is typically consumed with pooris, rotis or parathas. However, it is sometimes also eaten on its own too, as a snack.

I made this curry some time back, and served it with phulka rotis, and it went on to be very well appreciated.

Ssshhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

I’m part of this Facebook group called Sssshhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, where the members cook dishes from one Indian state every month. The members form pairs, and each pair exchanges two secret ingredients, which are used to cook the dish of the month. Isn’t that so very interesting?

This month, at Ssshhh Cooking Secretly, we are presenting recipes from Uttarakhand. I was paired with Mayuri of Mayuri’s Jikoni, a very talented blogger with several wonderful bakes, Gujarati dishes, Indian regional foods and global cuisines to her credit. She assigned me the two secret ingredients of dry red chillies and coriander powder, and I decided to use them to make these Aloo Ke Gutke. You must also check out the lovely dish that Mayuri prepared using the ingredients I gave her!

Aloo Ke Gutke recipe

Here’s how you go about making Aloo Ke Gutke or Pahadi Aloo. I followed this recipe from Something’s Cooking.

This is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation, suited to those following a plant-based diet. Skip the asafoetida used in the tempering here to make the curry gluten-free. This is because most brands of asafoetida available in India contain some amount of wheat flour in them. However, if you can find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, you can definitely use it.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 6-7 medium-sized potatoes
  2. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  3. Salt to taste
  4. 2 teaspoons red chilli powder or to taste
  5. 1-1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  6. 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  7. 2 teaspoons water
  8. 1 tablespoon mustard oil
  9. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  10. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  11. 2-3 dry red chillies
  12. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

1. Wash the potatoes well under running water, removing all traces of dirt from them. Now, cut each one into half and transfer to a wide vessel. Add in just enough water to cover the potatoes fully. Pressure cook on high flame for 2 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.

2. In a small bowl, take the salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder and cumin powder. Add in about 2 teaspoons of water, and make a lump-free slurry. Keep aside.

3. When the pressure from the cooker has gone down entirely, get the potatoes out. Discard the water the potatoes were cooked in. Let the cooked potatoes cool down enough to handle, then peel them. Cut the peeled potatoes into wedges or any other shape you prefer. Keep aside.

4. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the cumin seeds, asafoetida and dry red chillies. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

5. Now, reduce the flame to low-medium. Add in the slurry we prepared earlier. Mix well.

6. Immediately add in the potato wedges. Mix well, ensuring that the potatoes are evenly coated with the spices.

7. Cook on low-medium flame for 3-4 minutes, stirring intermittently to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan. Mix gently to avoid breaking up of the potato wedges. Taste and adjust salt and spices if needed. Switch off gas when the potatoes are done cooking.

8. Mix in finely chopped fresh coriander, gently. Your Aloo Ke Gutke are now ready to serve, with rotis, pooris, parathas or rice.

Tips & Tricks

1. Traditionally, a special variety of potatoes grown in Uttarakhand – called Pahadi Aloo – are used to make this curry. I didn’t have access to those, so I used regular potatoes instead.

2. Make sure you cook the potatoes for just 2 whistles. They should be cooked through, but not overly mushy. Alternatively, you could steam the potatoes first before proceeding to make the curry.

3. A locally grown spice called ‘Jakhiya‘ is used in the Aloo Ke Gutke, traditionally. I skipped that since I didn’t have any.

4. Adjust the quantities of red chilli powder, salt, coriander powder and roasted cumin powder as per personal taste preferences.

5. You could add a dash of lime juice to the Aloo Ke Gutke at the end, to make it more flavourful. However, that is not how it is done traditionally, so I refrained. A bit of garam masala would add a beautiful taste to the curry as well, albeit not a very traditional touch.

6. I have used mustard oil to make the Aloo Ke Gutke, as per the original recipe. I would highly recommend using it, too, as it adds a special flavour to the curry. However, you may use any other variety of oil if you so prefer.

Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Aloo Rassedar| Uttar Pradesh Style Potato Gravy

Happy new year, people! Here’s hoping 2020 will be kind to all of us. 🙂

In my first blog post for this year, I chose to share the recipe for Aloo Rassedar, a recent discovery which soon went on to become a huge favourite with everyone at home.

There cannot be too many ways to cook aloo, I say. The potato is one of the nation’s most loved veggies, after all! There are hundreds – if not thousands – of ways it is cooked, all over India. I’m only too happy to discover a new way to work with potatoes, considering the aloo love that runs in my family too. French fries, potato salad, Gujarat’s Bateta Nu Shaak, Tamilnadu’s Urulaikizhangu Roast and Bonda, Bengali Aloor Dom, Punjab’s Aloo Matar Ki Sabzi, Aloo Raita and Tandoori Aloo are some highly cherished preparations at our place. I am thrilled to have learnt how to prepare, recently, Aloo Rassedar, Uttar Pradesh style. What a beauty!

Aloo Rassedar, a fragrant and flavourful offering from Uttar Pradesh

I discovered Aloo Rassedar at Bombay Brasserie some months ago, and fell in love with it at first bite. This potato sabzi from the Uttar Pradesh cuisine was so hearty and full of flavour that it completely bowled me over. Large chunks of potato were cooked in a tomato-based gravy, along with the spices that are typically used in pickles up north. The nigella seeds, cumin, dry red chillies, fennel and fenugreek used in the gravy made it oh-so-fragrant and irresistible.

Making Aloo Rassedar for the Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

The Aloo Rassedar took a back seat in my memory after that meal in Bombay Brasserie, till I rediscovered it recently.


I’m part of the Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge group on Facebook, wherein we cook dishes from a particular Indian state every month. Uttar Pradesh cuisine was the theme for December 2019, a fascinating, vast subject that had me reading up on it extensively. When I figured that Aloo Rassedar is a popular accompaniment to pooris and rotis in Uttar Pradesh, I absolutely had to go ahead and make it.

I was paired with Priya, the talented blogger at Sweet Spicy Tasty, for the month. You should definitely check out her blog, a treasure trove of vegetarian recipes from around India.   Priya gave me two ingredients to work with – red chilli powder and potatoes – and, luckily, they both fit right into the Aloo Rassedar recipe that I wanted to make. Do check out the beautiful Choora Matar that Priya made using the two ingredients I assigned her!

The gravy turned out extremely beautiful, just as fragrant and flavourful as I remembered it from all those months ago. It was much appreciated by everyone at home, and made for a wonderful meal with the plain parathas I served it with.

A bit about Uttar Pradesh cuisine

A fairly large state in North India, Uttar Pradesh boasts of a rich history. Thanks to various Mughal emperors ruling Uttar Pradesh in the 16th century, the state’s cuisine also includes several Mughlai and Awadhi dishes, apart from its own indigenous foods. There are a considerable number of vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian dishes in the state’s repertoire.

Wheat is the state staple, used in a variety of flat breads like Tandoori Roti, Lachchha Paratha, Naan, Roomali Roti, Sheermal and Kulcha. Baati Chokha, Fara, Dubki Wale Aloo, Kachori, Kakori Kebab, Teheri, Bedmi Poori, Nimona, Galouti Kebab, Gobi Musallam, Gujiya and Petha are some of the most popular dishes from Uttar Pradesh. The state is also the birth place of many varieties of chaat.

Information courtesy: Wikipedia

How to make Aloo Rassedar

I’m happy I found this authentic recipe for Aloo Rassedar, and mostly followed it, with just a few minor variations.

This is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation, suitable to those following a plant-based diet. It is also a no-onion, no-garlic, no-ginger recipe, which can be termed Sattvik or Jain.

Since most brands of asafoetida available in India include wheat flour, it would be advisable to avoid the ingredient completely if you are considering making a gluten-free version. However, if you can get your hands on completely gluten-free asafoetida, you can definitely go ahead and use it.

Let’s head to the recipe now.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. About 6 medium-sized potatoes
  2. 2 medium-sized tomatoes
  3. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  4. 2 dry red chillies (sookhi lal mirch)
  5. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  6. 1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds (kalonji)
  7. 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
  8. 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (saunf)
  9. 2 pinches of asafoetida (hing)
  10. Salt to taste
  11. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  12. 1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin (jeera) powder
  13. 1/2 teaspoon coriander (dhania) powder
  14. 1/2 teaspoon amchoor powder or to taste
  15. Red chilli powder to taste
  16. 1/2 teaspoon garam masala or to taste
  17. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander, for garnishing


Method:

1. Wash the potatoes well under running water, and remove all traces of dirt from them. Cut each potato into half and place in a wide vessel. Add in just enough fresh water to cover the potatoes fully. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 4 whistles or till the potatoes are cooked through. Let the pressure release naturally.

2. Chop the tomatoes finely. Keep aside.

3. When the pressure from the cooker has fully gone down, get the cooked potatoes out. Drain out all the water from them. Let the potatoes cool down completely, then peel them. Cut the cooked potatoes into large pieces, and keep aside.

4. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the dry red chillies, cumin seeds, nigella seeds, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds and asafoetida. Let them stay in for a few seconds, taking care to ensure that they do not burn.

5. Now, add the chopped tomatoes to the pan. Add in a little water and a bit of salt. Cook on medium flame till the tomatoes turn mushy, 3-4 minutes.

6. Keeping the flame medium, add the potato pieces to the pan, along with about 1 cup of water.

7. To the pan, add salt to taste, turmeric powder and red chilli powder. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for 1-2 minutes.

8. Add in the roasted cumin powder, coriander powder, amchoor powder and garam masala. Mix well.

9. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the gravy starts to thicken. Stir intermittently to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pan. Switch off gas when the gravy is still quite runny. It thickens further upon cooling. Your Aloo Rassedar is ready. Serve it hot with pooris, rotis or parathas, garnished with finely chopped coriander.

Tips & Tricks


1. Some versions of Aloo Rassedar also use onion, ginger and garlic. You can add in the onions, finely chopped, before the tomatoes go in, then saute them till they turn brown. The garlic and ginger can be ground together to a paste and added to the pan along with the tomatoes.

2. You can also puree the tomatoes instead of chopping them finely.

3. Skip the garam masala if you do not want to use it. I personally felt it was a good addition.

4. I also added in a bit of jaggery powder, though that is not called for in the original recipe. I think it was a lovely addition – it rounded off the other flavours nicely.

5. Some kasoori methi, coarsely crushed between your palms, can also be used to garnish the Aloo Rassedar. You can add this in with or without the finely chopped coriander.

6. Make sure you switch off the gas when the gravy is still quite runny. It thickens quite a bit on cooling.

7. If the gravy gets too thick, add a little water and cook till it reaches the desired consistency.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!