Friday, September 21, 2012

Potato Stew

After spending almost 2 months in India, I think I may have fallen (again) for the way of Indian Cooking. Fresh , Seasonal Ingredients, amazing varieties of spices available all throughout the year, lack of too many artificial ingredients, and the smaller protein serving sizes....all add to the simplistic allure that has kept me hooked , no matter where I go, which cuisine I sample. One gem of an example of this kind of simplicity that forms a complex web of delicious layers when coupled with another simple dish has to be the humble "Stew".
 Stews from South India are usually eaten with crusty bread or wheat flat breads and has a coconut milk base. To the ones who never sampled a stew from Kerala, these can be compared to chowders, though these are much lighter and comprise of simple healthier ingredients. As kids, we ate the stew with plain, white bread often, on a hot summer evening. The carbs would keep digestion simple, without weighing you down and the coconut milk and onions would cool down the body, making sure we got some good shut-eye in the hot, humid hours to come.
This one's super simple and as I told, one of my very favorites. Hope you will find it easy and yummy too!

4 potatoes cut into long strips (abt the length and width of your finger)
2 large Onions sliced into similar sized strips
8 green chillies (the thin green Thai chillies are best) slit into long halves
1 large sprig curry leaves
4-5 whole cloves
1 1-inch piece of cinnamon
3 or 4 red dry chiles
1 tspn mustard seeds
1 can coconut milk/ coconut cream
a dash of white pepper powder


In a Dutch Oven, fry cloves and cinnamon in a little oil. Saute the onions  and add a tspn of salt. Add the potatoes and enough water to barely cover the pieces. Add green chiles and bring to a rolling boil. Lower heat, cover the dutch oven and let it cook. Test with a fork if the potatoes are cooked and make sure they dont get mashed. They should still hold the shape well.

Add the coconut milk, stir well until mixed. Once it starts showing signs of boiling, immediately remove from heat. If it boils, coconut milk may curdle.

Now in a smaller pan, heat a tspn of oil and add the mustard seeds. The mustard seeds will soon burst and explode all around so keep ready with a lid and lower the heat to min.if it needs to be covered. Add curry leaves and dry red chiles and fry them until they are blistered slightly. Switch off the stove and pour the hot tempering straight into the stew. Give it one quick stir. Cover and keep it aside for 5 minutes. Mix gently, adjust salt, stir in the white pepper and enjoy.

Goes excellently with Chapathis, Puttu (South-Indian breakfast of Steamed rice-flour cakes) and Idiappam (Steamed Rice flour noodles).

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