The celebration was quite incomplete yesterday. A party without food?!
Today I share with you my recipe for poori-bhaji. I am going to go ahead and declare this a national favourite, with every family having their own take on the batata bhaji that must accompany crispy pooris. In Uttar Pradesh though, poories are sometimes served with pumpkin bhaji that is redolent with ginger; and a fantastic combination that is too.
TH’s family version combined poories with a dry potato subzi. But that was before he got married!
I had worked on my aloo ki subzi for a while by then, and I and my sisters agreed that we had hit the jackpot. It is mightily inspired by the subzi served with poories at all railway stations in India. Affectionately, we also refer to it as station-bhaji. The poori-stall chap keeps a ready stack of boiled potatoes that are transformed quickly into fresh bhaji as sales start to peak around lunch and dinner times.
The bhaji is simplicity itself (I know, I say that all the time around here! What can I say – I like simple. 😀 ). No onions, garlic, ginger, or tomatoes. It uses the most common spice – coriander powder, which is also amongst the cheapest, and is seasoned with just salt and green chillies. The watery gravy gradually thickens as you mash the bigger potato chunks into it as you go about consuming it. I use loads of green chillies and give them a squeeze as I eat; it releases its wonderful flavour into the gravy. The green coriander leaves are more than a garnish here; they are another layer of flavour. Use lots.
It may not look as glamorous as the dry subzi but do try it once, if only in the memory of your train journeys across this wonderful land of ours. You’ll be surprised.
Aloo ki Subzi aka Station-bhaji
Potatoes in a thin gravy
6 medium size potatoes, boiled and peeled
1/4 t hing (optional)
1 t cumin seeds
1 T coriander powder
1 t turmeric
a handful of medium-hot green chillies, broken into two
3/4 C coriander leaves (cilantro)
2 t peanut oil
2-3 C water
Crumble the potatoes by hand such that you have small as well as big chunks and some mashed bits. Heat oil in a karahi or pan. Add cumin seeds and let them sizzle for a few seconds. Add the hing followed by the coriander powder and the turmeric. Give a quick stir and add the water. Do not let the the coriander brown. Add potatoes and salt. When everything starts to boil drop in the broken green chillies, as many as you like. Let boil gently (covered) for 10-15 min. Check if you need more water or if you need to smoosh the potatoes a bit to thicken the gravy. Stir in the coriander leaves and serve.
3 C atta (Indian roti flour)
2-3 t oil
1/3 t salt water to knead
oil for frying
Use water, as needed, to make a medium-stiff dough (stiffer than for roti), the idea being that you should be able to roll the poories without needed to dust with flour (which would come off in the oil, burn, and cover all the poories with specks of black – you don’t want that). Let rest for 10-15 min. Knead for a couple of minutes till smooth.
Heat oil in a karahi. Don’t fill too much; around a cup and a half should be enough.
Pinch off walnut-size balls of dough and roll them between the palms of your hands to almost perfect spheres. Flatten and touch with a little oil before placing on the rolling surface. Roll into a 3 inch circle (just slightly thicker than tortillas), following the roll-lift-turn-roll rhythm.
Lift the poori and gently slide it into the hot oil. I find sliding it into the oil along the edge of the karahi prevents splashing. The oil needs to be hot or the poories won’t puff. If it browns in less than 50-60 seconds then the oil is too hot (you can check by pinching off a tiny ball of dough, flattening it, and dropping it into the oil – it should sizzle and rise to the top but not darken).
The poori will rise to the top. Gently press down with a slotted spoon, or use it to splash (gently) the surface of the poori with hot oil. The poori will puff up. Flip it once it is a golden to medium brown. As you wait for it to brown on the other side (this is the thicker side) roll the next poori. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Serve with aloo ki subzi, and Punjabi Pachranga-style mango or mixed vegetable pickle.
Some other versions of the popular poori-bhaji:
Mallugirl’s puri-bhaji (Malabar Spices)
Poori-bhaji at Nupur’s (One Hot Stove)
- Methi ki poori: chop methi (fenugreek) leaves very fine in a food processor and mix into the flour before kneading. Makes absolutely amazing poories fragrant with the aroma of methi.
- Palak ki poori: puree cooked spinach and use to knead the dough for the poories. Delectable green poories.
- Mix a tablespoon of the masala from a Punjab-style mango pickle into the aloo ki subzi! 😉
Avoid using the same oil repeatedly for frying. Use oil leftover from the frying in your regular daily cooking: to fry paranthas, or in a subzi.
And before we conclude the festivities, there are a couple of awards to be celebrated as well! Meeta (What’s For Lunch Honey), whose pictures are as amazing as her blog is inspiring, has sent two awards my way, and her timing is impeccable – AMTP’s birthday week! Thank you, Meeta, for the honour! Just a year ago I gingerly tested the waters, and what a wonderful trip it has been. I have made new friends along the way and (virtually) met many interesting people. It feels very good to be part of this happy community.
Also try bedmi poori and khatta meetha kaddu pairing.
Thanks for keeping the Party rocking!