Mum, even though a true blue Bengali hails from a little town called Chapra in Bihar. As a child I remember taking a train from Sealdah Station in Kolkata to Patna and from there take a bus to reach Chapra to my maternal grandparents’ place.
Though mostly plagued with long hours of power cuts, we town kids from Asansol found solace in playing hide and seek with cousins in that ancient bungalow and portico.
But it was the meal time that was the much sought after; since we were served some of the best and most delicious vegetables, fish and meat on huge brass plates that were washed with the coal and wood ashes from the earthen oven.
As a ritual, the kids were fed first (considering what a bunch of mischief makers we were), so while Dida (granny for mum’s mum), fanned us (no fan in the portico and long power cuts, remember?) we sat crossed legged and ate.
This humble dish had the power to satiate the hunger pangs of growing children and provide the much needed warmth for an afternoon siesta.
Apologies for not being able to post the final picture as I was way too excited with the outcome and ate it up! 😀
But before you begin, let me tell you that this dish is ideally made with baby potatoes with the skin intact. Unfortunately these days our veggies are loaded with pesticides, let alone dirt. So it is best to soak washed baby potatoes overnight in a large bowl filled with salt water.
Rinse them thoroughly several times under running tap water until the surface looks clean.
It requires a little extra mustard oil as that’s what gives this dish the colour, crispiness and the flavour. With the skin intact you’re can eat it guilt free as a breakfast dish with puris or paranthas or for lunch with khichdi or a dal/rice combination.
So here goes, the humble Aalu Bhujia –
- Baby potatoes – 250 gms thinly sliced with skin
- Garlic – 2 whole pods finely chopped
- Onion seeds (kalonji) – 1 and ½ tsp
- Salt – to taste
- Mustard oil – (please don’t look surprised) at least 10 – 12 tbps
- Heat mustard oil in an iron wok/ kadhai until smoking point.
- Add the chopped garlic and onion seeds.
- As soon as it splatters and browns a little, tilt in all the finely sliced baby potatoes and coat it well with the oil, garlic and onion seeds.
- You need to keep the flame between medium to high and fry until the potato slices look crisp and golden brown.
- Add salt to taste, mix well.
- As soon as the potatoes are cooked, serve piping hot with your choice of meal.
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