“Money is the root of all evil, and yet it is such a useful root that we cannot get on without it any more than we can without potatoes.” Louisa May Alcott, novelist (1832-1888)
The humble Potato has been the root to many of our gastronomical pleasures for hundreds of years and yet we share a love hate relationship with this ancient tuber. The advocates of balanced diet and healthy eating habits have always looked down upon it and our mothers who are determined to inculcate in us the habit of eating all vegetables consider consumption of potatoes as an escape from having enough greens on the plate!!
Each regional cuisine has adapted potatoes to suit its culinary needs and traditions. In dry and arid state of Gujarat the popularity of potatoes has evolved due to its affordability and longer shelf life. Onions and potatoes are the two vegetables to be found even in the remote corners of the state, making it an ideal option to be had with the variety of flat breads and khichdi. Adding potatoes to the expensive green vegetables so as to increase the quantity of the veggie is also a norm in most of the households. No Gujarati thali meal is complete without curry or potato dry subzi prepared using only potatoes!! Potatoes in thin soup like gravies, sweet and sour vegetable dish, as stir-fried side dish, the katri – potato chips dried for yearlong storage are very popular preparations made from potatoes and the Gujjus love them in any avatar!!
Hadn’t it been for the way it is loved ‘as french fires’ or chips or loaded with cheese, potato wouldn’t have earned such a bad name. Any fried version laden with oil and fats is bound to have unhealthy side effects, but consider cooking them in a healthier manner like boiling, baking or steaming and as it was done by our grand-mums, with the skin on and you have a healthy food that is rich in Vitamin C, vitamin B6 and a good source of potassium, copper, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, dietary fibre. In fact, the choravalu bataka nu shaak with puri remains the most preferred potato curry at most luncheons or community dinners.
The recipe I share with you today is one of the countless ways potato is enjoyed and celebrated in Gujarati cuisine. In Gujarati, Shaak is a generic name given to any vegetable preparation that is made to be eaten with roti or rice. It can either be a dry preparation or have a slight curry to it.
The Dahivalu Bataka Nu Shaak is a dry side dish that make ideal accompaniment to any dal-rice-roti-subzi meal. The cooking time is less but you will need some time on hand as it calls for marinating the potatoes for at least an hour. It is a mild dish and you may balance the spice to suit your palate.
The recipe has been adapted from a very 1996 edition of ‘Gujarat Nu Jaman’ by Devaki Bubbar. The book is a must have for anyone who loves to cook Gujarati foods as it has extensive collection of recipes made in regular Gujarati households!!!
Dahivalu Bataka Nu Shaak
Serves – 4
- 500 grams baby potatoes (approximately 18 baby potatoes)
- 1 cup thick yogurt
- 1” piece ginger
- 3 green chillies
- 1-2 garlic cloves
- ¾ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- Salt to taste
- Chopped coriander for garnish
- Select equal sized potatoes and give them a proper wash.
- In a pressure cooker, partially cook the potatoes. 1-2 whistles.
- Skin and cut the potatoes into halves.
- Grind the ginger, garlic and green chili to a paste.
- To prepare the marinade for the potatoes, put the yogurt in a large bowl and whisk it well.
- Add the chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt and mix well.
- Now add the cooked and halved potatoes to the yogurt mixture.
- Allow the potatoes to marinade for at least an hour.
- Warm the oil and ghee in a shallow pan and on a low flame fry the potatoes until golden brown.
- Add a teaspoon of oil if needed. Access oil can be removed after the potatoes are cooked.
- Serve hot with puri, rotli or flat bread of your choice….