The two things that this Aloo subzi reminds me off every time I make it is – Mathura and Sai Baba.
I feel blessed to have been able to live in the Delhi NCR area for a short few years. If you know India, then no two regions are the same. You begin to appreciate the diversity and culture of different parts of India only when you move out of home (read comfort zone). That said, South India and North India are like South and North pole. You will notice the diverse culture, languages, food, people etc. and truly wonder at how a land can be as eclectic and yet so beautifully different! I have had the good fortune of visiting Mathura a couple of times. Of course, Mathura not only stands for Sree Krishna and all the wonderful folklore and stories, Mathura also stands for its unique cuisine. If you have been to Mathura and missed the Kachori and Aloo Sabzi then you have not truly seen Mathura the way it should have been. Yummy hot kachoris dunked in a thin Potato gravy served in handmade little bowls, served on the streets of Mathura or even in the Mathura Railway station is something to die for!
The next part of my story is a personal story I would like to share. Back in those days, every Thursday was “Fasting” day for me in an effort to please Sai Baba, whom I ardently admire and believe in for his simplicity and teachings. Of course, Sai Baba never asks his devotees to fast. But to me fasting or “Vrat” in Hindi, is more of a self control technique helping the “faster”/person to achieve a level of self control and abstinence from the most notorious of our senses which is “Taste”. So going back to my story, I would fast diligently every Thursday through the day with surviving on water and in the evening would stop by our local Sai Mandir on my way home. After the evening Aarti and prayers, i would stand in this long line to receive “Prasad”. And look forward to that prasad every thursday, since that was my only meal of the day and a way to break my fast. And every thursday, Sai Baba offered me 2 Puris with a generous helping of vrat waali “Aloo ki Sabzi” much like the Mathura waali Aloo ki sabzi. Trust me, after a long day, these two puris and the delicious aloo ki sabzi felt divine and worth the long wait through the day and in the line.
So what is this special “Aloo ki sabzi all about”. This is special because it is mostly made in North India surely around Navratri since it does not contain Onion or Garlic which are considered Rajasic foods according to Ayurveda causing an imbalance in your body.
Even though i have modified and updated my recipe over the years a little to suit our needs, the original recipe comes from a neighbor friend of mine who is originally from Mathura. She freely shared recipes and was very kind to send us samples as well 🙂
You will need:
4 to 5 Medium sized Potatoes
1 small handful of chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Red Chilli Powder (I use a mix of red chilli and dhaniya powder)
1/2 tsp Dhaniya/Coriander Powder
Salt to taste
Hing or Asafoetida
1 tbsp Oil
1 tbsp Ghee
a few bay leaves
For the dry Garam Masala:
2 tsp Coriander seeds/Dhaniya seeds
1/4 tsp Kala Namak / Black Salt
1/4 tsp Amchur or Dry Mango Powder
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds or Jeera
1/4 tsp Black pepper
3 to 4 Cardamom (Green cardamom)
2 Badi Elaichi (Black cardamom) – not shown here because i ran out
1/2 tsp Cloves
2 big pieces Cinnamom
a few strands dagad phool/ black stone flower(optional)
Combine all of the above and dry grind into a coarse powder in a mixer or food processor.
Method for Aloo Sabzi:
1. Wash and chop the Potatoes into halves. Pressure cook with enough water for about 2 whistles. Cool, peel and mash roughly.
2. The specialty of this dish is that it is typically made in a huge iron wok or kadai and cooked in low heat to perfection. The iron lends its a taste and flavor that is typical to this dish. Here I have used my cast iron pan, that i treasure and keep well seasoned. Heat oil in this iron pan. Season with hing and cumin seeds/jeera.
5. Allow to cook in low to medium flame in an open pan for about 10 minutes. Add more water if needed. The consistency of this curry is thin to semi thick. You may add water to bring it to the consistency you prefer.
7. Meanwhile, in a small pan, heat the ghee for seasoning(tadka/chounk). When the ghee is hot, add the cumin seeds, one dry red chilli and 1 to 1.5 tsp of the Red chilli and dhaniya powder. Mix well and pour on top of the boiling curry.
9. This is best served with Urad Kachoris or Khasta Kachoris. The Kachoris call for a post on their own 🙂
Here I have served this delicious Aloo ki sabzi with Nachni and Juwar ki Puris – Puris made with a mix of Nachni/ Ragi (Finger millet) and Juwar (Jowar/ Sorghum) Flours.
Vrat waala food for Navratri is ready!!
Hope you enjoyed my stories and post. Thank you for stopping by!!