Friday nights, I often plan my dinners around finishing stuff from the fridge, getting ready for Saturday (market-day). Last night, a quick peek in the fridge revealed 3 boiled potatoes (left over from a few days ago), some left-over crushed tomatoes, half an onion. Plus some ready-made rotis (Indian flat-breads). One easy recipe jumped to my mind: Potato "song", a Konkani (a coastal region of India) potato curry with a wonderful sweet-spicy-tangy medley of tastes. I have no idea why the curry is called "song"; it is a recipe my Konkani grandmom had taught Anji (our cook) to make, so it would be on the menu often.
This curry uses the simple trio of red chillies-cumin-coriander for its spice base, jaggery (unrefined/brown sugar) for the hint of sweetness, both tamarind and tomato for the tang and cilantro for the fresh note. The result is delicious. I am experimenting with a different way of writing this recipe, breaking it down, so to speak, so maybe it will be easier for readers unfamiliar with Indian cooking to see how a curry comes together. It might make a long list of ingredients seem less daunting. Let me know if it helps or not.
Almost all curries have these 5 components: a main ingredient, a tempering, spices, curry base and garnishes. The different permutations and combinations of ingredients and spices is what makes each curry unique.
3-4 boiled potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 small onion, minced
5-6 fresh curry leaves (optional)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
salt to taste
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
1/2 tbsp tamarind paste
1/2 tbsp jaggery (brown sugar)
2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
1. Mix all the ingredients for the curry base and set aside.
2. Start with the tempering. Heat the oil in a saucepan, and then add all the tempering ingredients. Stir them around so that they flavor the oil, keeping the heat medium.
3. Add all the spices and saute for a few seconds so they toast and release their flavors.
4. Add the potato cubes and saute for a minute.
5. Add curry base, stir around, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
6. Taste and adjust the balace of salt-spice-sweetness-sourness if necessary.
7. Garnish with fresh cilantro.
This curry tastes better if you let the flavors blend for 15-20 minutes after cooking. Enjoy with flatbreads/rotis or steamed rice, with a dollop of pickle and some yogurt.
There: a simple dinner and some good use of left-over bits of food!