baTATyAchi bhAji ANI pUri
Last year, I was in Delhi for several days under some trying circumstances. Since the reason for being there was grim and important, meals were the least of our priorities, and we ate as and when there was time.
The only constant in the day used to be the breakfast in the hotel. The spread was average fare like cereals, toast, fruit, and hah, poori and potato bhaji, or sabji. When I saw that on the first day, I was shocked. Poori bhaji for breakfast? I ate cereal and some toast with orange marmalade. The next day it was alu paratha, and that is only half as bad, but it looked too good to resist, so I ate one. The following day, the poori bhaji appeared again, and we soon found out that these two things alternated there recurrently. I made peace with the alu paratha, but never really got used to the idea of having poori bhaji for breakfast.
For me, poori bhaji has associations of being as part of a meal, usually a festive one, when the dessert is most likely to be shreekhand, or basundi, or aamras in mango season.
This type of bhaji is made very commonly as part of an everyday meal, and would be outright comfort food with some varan bhaat, but when accompanied by pooris it becomes something special.
I like to use Yukon gold potatoes for this. Just because this is a traditional recipe and precious to me, I wouldn't use red skinned or other fancy potatoes in this one, but I don't see why that wouldn't work either. Sometimes the garlic is omitted, especially if following some religious restrictions, and at other times some chopped onion is added to the bhaji as well.
For 2-3 side servings
4-5 medium sized potatoes
4 cloves of garlic
an inch long piece of garlic
4-5 small green chilies (adjust depending on size of chili or preferred degree of heat)
3-4 Tablespoons oil
1/2 to 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
good pinch of asafoetida
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
10-15 curry leaves
salt to taste, about 1-1/2 teaspoons
3/4 teaspoon sugar
2-5 Tablespoons of fresh grated coconut (about a handful)
4 Tablespoons of chopped cilantro leaves
Boil the potatoes. This can be done in a pressure cooker too. Peel and chop them into medium sized chunks. Grind the ginger, garlic and green chilies together without to form a rough paste.
Heat the oil, and add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add the asafoetida, turmeric, curry leaves, potatoes, the paste, salt, and sugar. Stir everything together, lowering the heat if required. Since the potatoes are already fully cooked, stir it just enough to coat it with the spices and heat through. Sprinkle the coconut and cilantro on top.
Poori bhaji served with varan, bhaat and tuup, along with a cool and crunchy gajarachi koshimbir (carrot and peanut salad), apple and figs chutney, and fried poha papad. Rest assured that in the Indian style of eating this is only the first serving, and depending on what one likes, there are seconds, and thirds even.
With this version from our part of the country, I join the Mad Tea Party's Poori Bhaji fest, which already has a good recipe for the pooris too.