August 6, 2007

Achari Aloo

Cook in haste and repent, err, eat, at leisure.

Almost all my meals are express meals. I mean, when you travel 75 minutes or more one way, work for at least 9 hours and then trudge back, and you like to have decent meals on the table, you enjoy cooking, and you have a food blog over and above all that. How can any meal be leisurely (in terms of preparation)? And no, you don't have a cook.

To top it all, when I'd spent a lazy Saturday doing almost nothing, except for attempting some masala buns, S and I decided to invite our good friends over for dinner. So, there I was. With almost no vegetables in the fridge, definitely no time on hand and friends visiting. I made something simple for dinner. Really simple. And as I figured, I was able to whip up an entire meal in just about 30 minutes. So, this goes to Mallugirl’s Express Cooking challenge.

I have the luxury of owning a double storey 4 burner stove and 5 pressure cookers and pans. But please remember that we don't as yet own a dining table and our apartment has a really really small kitchen. So, while I do the make the most of what I have, managing in the little hole is a tad tough.

My meal for the evening comprised rice, Payatham Paruppu Kuzhambu, a variation of Katrikkai Karumadhu, and this potato experiment. Why did I experiment? Because many people, read that as MANY people, are averse to this lovely versatile vegetable called brinjal/aubergine/eggplant. S and I love it and we have it at least once a week in some form. Fortunately for me, our friends T & B enjoyed the brinjal.

Amchi cuisine has a mixed vegetable side dish called chow chow. Left over pickle gravy, called humman, goes into the gravy making the dish a really spicy one. S and I had the same caterer at our offices when I was working in Gurgaon and she supplied us with achari aloo once in a while. Her dish used the fennel flavoured mango pickle in mustard oil. So, using up old pickles seems to be common. I will try that as well some other time as I do have mango pickle from 2 years ago. Thanks to my friend's mom in Ludhiana.

Last winter, the same friend's mother sent a winter pickle for us. It had carrots, turnips, and cauliflower. It is supposed to be consumed within a short span and does not keep for long. But then, we keep everything for as long as it can be used. And so although we did enjoy the fresh pickle in winter, we continue to have it in the fridge.

I decided to pair this pickle with potatoes and the resultant dish was finger licking good.


4 Potatoes, peeled or scrubbed well

1 tbsp Oil

1 tsp Cumin Seeds

1/4 tsp Asafoetida

1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder

1/2 tsp Chilli Powder

3 tbsp Dry Pickle

Salt to taste

Chop the potatoes into small cubes.

Heat the oil in a kadhai and add the cumin seeds and asafoetida. When the cumin crackles, add the potato cubes, chilli and turmeric powders. Fry for a few minutes. Add the pickle and salt and cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Enjoy this with rotis or rice and dal.

While the potatoes were shedding their firmness, I set the rice in a cooker. That taken care of, I chopped some long purple brinjals and made a simple brinjal curry. Instead of the elaborate Katrikkai Karumadhu, I made the curry with just chilli and turmeric powders instead of the masala. I threw in some yennai katrikkai podi, that Amma had made for me years ago, towards the end. These brinjals seem to cook very fast and the curry was ready in less than 10 minutes.

When the brinjals were simmering, and, in a pressure pan, proceeded to make the Payatham Paruppu Kuzhambu.Instead of cooking the dal separately and then adding the seasoning, I prepared the seasoning in the pan and added the dal and water to it. This, I pressure cooked in about 5-7 minutes.

My entire meal was ready in just about 30 minutes with no prior preparation. With curd and pickles always available at home, it was a complete meal.


Roopa said...

wow you have full meal! it is looking delicious :) nice entry!

Raaga said...

Thanks Roopa :-)

Unknown said...

Looks very delicious and very quick, Raaga..
Thanks for sharing!

Sia said...

what???????? u own 5 pressure cookers????
beautiful entries for express cooking:) i cant wait to see the round-up as its gonna make my life simpler;)

Saju said...

OMG that is a wonderful idea; using pickles to express your cooking. Thanks for sharing.

Chef Jeena said...

Hi Raaga great recipe I love potatoes :)

Shah cooks said...

5 cookers seems a lot!! i love the concept of ur achari of my friends makes it from scratch but ur idea is neat.

Sharmi said...

hey what is dry pickle? loved the recipe and would love to try out.

Richa said...

ooh! love that gobi-gajar-shalgam achar, one of the very few acars that i eat :) good way to use pickle.

Mallika said...

I've tried something similar but with the gravy part of mango pickle. Yum. Really enjoyed reading your post - I'm just like you rushing around with a small kitchen...

Raaga said...

@Cinnamon: If you can find a north indian pickle, do try it.

Chitra said... are too good i say :)
8th is D's bday...want to try carrot halwa...any inputs?

SeeC said...

Great entry Raaga.
Loved the Brinjal dish.

Anonymous said...

Achari aloo, thats a nice dish, I love the gobi version of this served at a nearby place.....whats dry pickle. The brinjal dish looks very yummy

Anonymous said...

Achari aloo, thats a nice dish, I love the gobi version of this served at a nearby place.....whats dry pickle. The brinjal dish looks very yummy

Coffee said...

GULP!! What do you do with 5 cookers??

Loved the meal... You are super quick in your work. :)

Raaga said...

@Sia: I am sure the round up will make life easier for all of us :-) and yes, I do own 5 cookers ;-)

Raaga said...

@Saju: :-) Do try it and let me know.

Raaga said...

@Mallugirl: We have to learn to "eddjust" no? Making from scratch has its own charm, but we also need to be fed, right?

Raaga said...

@Sharmi: A dry pickle is the north indian pickle that doesn't have too much oil and is reasonably dry.

@Richa: Yes, it is the gobi-gajar-shalgam achar. And it tastes heavenly with the potatoes.

Raaga said...

@Mallika: Gravy of mango pickle should also taste fine. Will try that soon.

Raaga said...

@Jeena: Really, who doesn't? :-)

@Chitra: Will hunt for something and send across.

@SeeC: it is a very simple, but yummy curry :-)

Raaga said...

@Bhags: Any north indian pickle without much oil. I must try the gobi version too.

@Coffee: The cookers make me quicker :-)

Anonymous said...

Cookers make a lot of difference to speed. Btw how do you store five cookers?

My kitchen is a pigeon hole - two people cant stand inside together, so I dont think more than one cooker would fit in any way (as it is the single one I have is always on the stove or next to it!!). Thankfully the place is rented :)

You travel 75 minutes everyday - dont tell me you do the Gurgaon-Delhi commute!!!

Shubha Ravikoti said...

Hey raaga.... loved ur recipe... i have been searching for it for a long long time....can i use lime pickle here... i have some masala fennel seeds lime pickle...can i use it here.... in stead of mango pickle??.... i had it once in a restuarant in detroit and have been searching for a recipe from that time... thanx to u... i gotit today...:)

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