Aloo means potato in Hindi, and it translates (sorry for the poor pun) into many delicious dishes in Indian cuisine. Although we generally think of rice as the starch of choice in Indain cooking, potatoes are used generously in the largely vegetarian cuisine as a filling in rotis, mixed with spinach or paneer cheese, and in a lovely spice laden side dish called Aloo Chaat.
A few years ago I went on an Indian cooking "kick" of sorts, and found the myriad of spices and flavors really woke up our dinner table. Lately I've become very bored with the dishes I've been presenting to my family. I kind of needed a kick in the pants and the taste buds, so to speak. I perused one of my favorite Indian cookbooks, At Home with Madhur Jaffrey by Madhur Jaffrey. Which presents dishes from a variety of countries in the the Asian Sub-continent, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Her chaat recipe was made especially by her mother to ensure the spice blend was just right, even though they employed servants to do the majority of the cooking.
The dish definitely delivered as far as flavor and texture in adding something new to our table. I was cautious that the dish would have too much heat from the cayenne, but my kids were able to tolerate it, and the side dish was a big hit! Ms. Jaffrey writes that it should be served at room temperature, and not refrigerated, as that changes the texture. Alas, I did have refrigerate the leftovers, and the potatoes did get a bit waxy. As well, the heat in the dish waned, but we still enjoyed it cold. It was a delicious and refreshing change from the typical variety of potato salads.
This is an amalgamation of the two variations of the recipe. In one the spices are tossed with the potatoes alone, and in another they are lightly sauteed with the oil and potatoes. I sauteed the ingredients, but with less oil than was called for in the original recipe. The result seemed to be a happy medium. So decide how you Aloo, and try something new!
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes (or peeled Yukon gold potatoes)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1-2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro (fresh or dried--you will need only 1 Tablespoon if you use dried), to garnish
Prepare a large pot of boiled salted water. Cube the potatoes and boil until fork tender, about 20-30 minutes. Drain in a colander.
In the same pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the cayenne and cumin and stir for 30 seconds. Add the potatoes and stir until well coated with the oil mixture. Saute potatoes for 5 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl.
Drizzle the lemon juice over the potatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir well to coat. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the chopped cilantro.
Yield: 6-8 servings