Before Srivalli completely gives up on me, here I am with my experiments with the mystery powder I received through our very own Arusuvai Friendship chain last month. For all my professed past-life claims, the podi Srivalli sent me had me at a complete loss. I have already admitted I am not good at de-constructing spice blends; I totally relied on Manisha’s intuition for kanda-lassun masala.
After staring at the yellow-orange-powder sitting in a packet on my kitchen counter for two days, I gingerly wrote to Srivalli about my predicament… The yellow powder was going to test my self-professed Southie-ness. I could taste turmeric… dhaniya… and… the rest was a mystery. Now, I have made a few South Indian podis: kootu podi, bisibele hulianna podi, milagai podi; this was definitely not one of those. Well, that left only one other podi I knew: sambar masala! So, I prayed and sent an apologetic note to Srivalli asking if that was Sambar podi I had in my possession. It amused her that I was so unsure… but of course, it was! Whew! I heaved a sigh of relief. My reputation (rather, claim) was intact; at least, for now.
So, my friends, I correctly identified the mystery powder as sambar powder. Now, all of you out there know how to make sambar. There is little point it talking about that (though, I make no promises that I never will). Surely there were other uses for this wonderful magical spice blend?
My own sambar powder is ground a bit coarse and I sometimes use it to make spicy eggplant stir fry. I used Srivalli’s in a mixed veggie stir fry which turned out very good. But I was too rushed to take pictures.
Then last week, I left planning lunch till it was too late. I decided to make quick rava dosa but was in no mood for the whole nine-yards of sambar (not even this one-pot sambar), chutney, and masala (spicy potatoes for stuffing the dosa with). Then, in a flash of brilliance (ahem), I decided to combine the three! And when you make my masala potatoes, you will agree.
Potatoes prepared for stuffing into dosa are usually not spicy at all. I modified my usual recipe just a tad, and had a completely different animal on my hands. How we loved it with the crispy rava dosas; no one missed the sambar or the chutney. These masala potatoes were the star of this lunch. They remind me quite a bit of Ashwini’s potato song, a perfect note to start off the New Year – with my favourite vegetable!
5 medium potatoes
1 medium onion, chopped (about 3/4-1 C)
2 juicy desi (heirloom) tomatoes, chopped fine
2 curry leaves, leaflets separated from the stalk
1 green chilli, chopped
1 T oil
1 t mustard seeds
1/4 t hing
2-3 t sambar powder*
1 t byadgi (or medium hot) chilli powder*
Scrub potatoes. Pressure cook with 2 cups of water for 10 min. Leave in the cooker till the pressure subsides. Cool, peel, and smash potatoes.
Heat oil in a karahi or heavy bottomed pan. Add mustard seeds to the hot oil and cover till the spluttering stops. Add hing, followed by green chillies, curry leaves, and onions. Stir till onions turn transparent. Now add the sambar powder and chilli powder and stir for half a minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes till they soften. Indian desi tomatoes are juicy, tart and full of flavour; they also soften quickly. Mix in the smashed potatoes and salt. Cover and let cook for 5 min. Give a good stir and serve with dosa, roti, or stuff between slices of bread and grill.
* Adjust amount of chilli powder depending on how hot you want the final dish to be, and depending on how much fire there is in the sambar powder to begin with. When I use Udupi sambar powder, I use 3 t sambar powder and no chilli powder.
Thank you, Srivalli for making me part of the Arusuvai Chain, which was started at the Yum Blog by Latha. And I am sending a mystery ingredient to two other very talented Delhi bloggers: Reeta of Delhi Foodies’ Zone, and Deepshikha, a foodie and an artist. Watch out for your ‘surprise’ ingredients in the mail!