Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Oven cooked Baby potatoes in Tomato gravy

Arguably, some of the best chefs in the world are men, but I know very few men who cook regularly. Among Indian men, it is practically a rarity, and even rarer are those who are actually interested in cooking. So much for all the fights for parity, the daily cooking grind is most often borne by women. I don't want to turn this post into one with shades of feminism, but instead acknowledge a friend, who is among the few men who enjoy not just cooking and eating, but also discerning and discussing all about it. He has several superb recipes, and now I have his permission to blog a few of them which are among my favorites. You are in for a treat. Here's to men who cook!

From my own experience, this is a great dish to make for large gathering for several reasons. First of all, it scales up very easily. The dish can be put together slightly ahead of time, and the cooking can be finished in the last one hour. By finishing the cooking of the potatoes in the oven, one gains space on the stove top, which is very useful when cooking several things together. If not, that time could be used to clear up the counter or do something else. To top it all, it looks gorgeous, tastes delicious, and is a perfect accompaniment to almost any type of meal.

In this recipe I used the list of ingredients from the base recipe, but modified the technique a couple of ways and even made it more elaborate. Usually people simplify recipes, but here, I added steps. I blanch and peel the tomatoes before pureeing, whereas the original recipe just calls for blending the onion, ginger, garlic, and tomatoes all together. Feel free to do that, but I like the texture of the gravy to be smooth and silky, so I don't mind the extra effort.

Baby potatoes in tomato gravy

Oven cooked baby potatoes in tomato gravy

about 15 baby potatoes (see notes)
2-3 cloves garlic
1 inch piece ginger
1 medium onion
2-3 ripe medium tomatoes (I like lots of gravy in this, so I use 3)
1-2 tablespoons oil
3-4 cloves
1 stick cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2-3/4 teaspoon chili powder
pinch of sugar (optional)
pinch of garam masala powder(optional)
chopped cilantro for garnish

To make tomato puree

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Drop the tomatoes into the water, each for about a minute, and take them out using a slotted spoon. When cool, peel the tomatoes and puree them.

Other prep work

Wash and scrub the potatoes.

Process ginger and garlic to a paste, and chop the onion very fine. You can do that in a mini-processor or chopper.

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.

The first part on the stove top

Heat the oil in a large saute pan, and add the cloves and cinnamon. As soon as they become fragrant, or as the bark starts to uncurl, add the onion, ginger, garlic, and sauté it together until it starts to change color to golden. Add the tomato puree, salt, sugar, turmeric and chili powder, and saute until the tomatoes start to soften.

Add the potatoes, mix thoroughly, and put everything into a baking dish. Add about 1/2 cup or more of water into the pan to get bits of gravy out, and pour it into the dish.

Finishing the cooking in the oven

Cover the dish with an oven proof lid or a piece of foil with a few slits, and place it in the oven and cook for 40 minutes. Uncover the dish and pierce one of the potatoes with a fork to check if it is tender. If not, let it cook for another 10 minutes or until done.

Sprinkle garam masala and chopped cilantro.


* I like to use the most teeny tiny new potatoes I can find; usually not more than 1-1/2 inches in diameter. I have used regular as well as red new potatoes and they are both equally good.

* I like to use true cinnamon in this recipe, not cassia bark, which is commonly used in many Indian recipes

* You can add 1 tsp of cumin seeds along with the cloves and cinnamon if you like

* It has never taken me more than 40-45 minutes for the potatoes to cook in the oven, but potatoes and ovens could differ, so please check to see if they are done.

* I don't always add garam masala, and it tastes just as good without it.

This dish is naturally vegan and goes to Suganya's Vegan Ventures.


Suganya said...

I so agree with you on more space on stove top. Particularly when you are juggling few other things. I think this can be made ahead pureed, assembled, refrigerated and baked the next day, just before serving.
Thanks for such a neat and tasty recipe, ET.

musical said...

This is such a simple and delicious recipe. Baking must have added a special flavor to it, and plus its kinda' easy when there are so many things to cook. Lovely dish, dear!

Rajitha said...

i am happy about the tatoes getting baked..that is a good calorie sometimes boiled ones get too soft on u..the dish looks yum!

Laavanya said...

OMG.. that looks extremely good! I love the idea of baking it.. especially now that it's so cold. Makes the kitchen so much cosier :)
Thanks for this lovely recipe.

TheCooker said...

Real cinnamon v/s cassia bark....enlightenment needed on this, please.
What does one look for on the label?

Manisha said...

Is this the same as the alur dom recipe? I've made that with parboiled potatoes and it is very delicious! Quick, too. Once I made it with mustard oil and it was even better! Haven't tried your method ie oven baked.

Rachna said...

hey nice baked potatoes... looks yummy

bindiya said...

Baking is such a great time saving option, this looks yummy!

Erin said...

This looks really wonderful. I agree, for all of the professional male chefs out there, I know very few great male home cooks. I wish I knew more.

evolvingtastes said...

Suganya, I have never made it so much ahead that it needs to be refrigerated and baked the next day, but it might work. Look forward to your vegan roundup.

musical, yes, its relatively easy when there are other things to cook. Besides, potatoes are always a crowdpleaser, so I have atleast one potato dish when entertaining.

Rajitha, yup, hardly any fat calories in this one, and yet they stay whole and get tender.

Laavanya, thanks! Indeed, winter and baking go hand in hand.

TheCooker, you of all people need enlightment on this? Actually, no, the labels don't say it, but what one finds as cinnamon in American stores is cinnamon, and what we get in India is usually cassia. I think you just gave me an idea for a mini post. In the meanwhile, check out Gernot Katzer's Spice pages for details.

evolvingtastes said...

Manisha, this isn't the alur dom - that one has yogurt in it, no? I liked this one so much that I didn't bother with any other. The oven baking was my twist on it. There are too many alur dom variations floating around. Do you mind sending me the one you used?

Thanks Rachna!

bindiya, thanks. It definitely gives you more time since you don't have to watch it over the stove.

Hi Erin, thanks, and welcome to my blog. I am usually curious how people get here, so I would like to know that if you don't mind.

Manisha said...

No, it doesn't have yogurt. The ingredients are the same as yours except that it does not have cloves, cinnamon or garam masala. Will send you the link by email. I am pretty sure you will recognize it once you see it.

Cynthia said...

I've never thought of cooking baked potatoes in this way before. Thanks for the idea.

Manisha said...

ET, it is usually cassia in the US. Those beautifully curled thick sticks are cassia bark. If you buy "ground cinnamon" from Trader Joe's, check out the ingredients for it says cassia. I'd written an article on cinnamon for a friend in June, if you're interested.

Shantanu said...

Hmm. Interesting! While this is a dish that gets made fairly often at home, we have never thought of using the oven. Re: real cinnamon, I agree. We do this very often, and it makes a world of difference.

evolvingtastes said...

Manisha, thanks for the link - I finally got a chance to read and ponder over it. So, what I was thinking is cinnamon is really cassia and vice versa!? As for the prices - I bought 'dalchini' recently in India, and it wasn't expensive at all. About Rs. 18 (or 50 c) for a small packet, and the same amount would cost a lot more here, whether it is the reddish brown quills in regular grocery stores, or brown bark from desi stores.

evolvingtastes said...

Shantana, welcome to my blog. Arnab is Bengali, so there is a good chance that what you make is quite similar indeed.

evolvingtastes said...

Sorry about the typo, I meant Shantanu.

Manisha said...

Anita has been looking for true cinnamon in Delhi and it is not available. She can get cassia for Rs. 200/kg and 'fake' cinnamon for Rs. 20/kg. Neither of us is sure what 'fake' cinnamon is but I would hazard a guess and say it could be malabrathum (Cinnamomum tamala or Cinnamomum tejpata). I am not sure what you have. True cinnamon is about Rs. 2000/kg online.

Mithila said...

A really interesting recipe indeed! A slightly less rich cousin of dum aloo (is alur dum the same thing?). The pictures on your website are absolutely beautiful. You have used natural light incredibly well.

Mithila said...

Forgot to ask: why would you sprinkle the garam masala as a garnish of sorts instead of sauteing it with the rest of the masalas in the stove top stage?

evolvingtastes said...

Mithila, welcome to my blog. Yes, this could be considered a less rich cousin of dum aloo because there is no frying involved, and very little oil is used to saute the onion-tomato masala. I sprinkle the masala at the end only because that is what the original recipe said, but most of the times I do not even use the garam masala. I like the cinnamon and clove flavor, which gets even deeper after baking.

Thanks for your very kind words about the pictures on my blog, but I think I have much room for improvement. btw, do you have a blog too? Your blogger profile is not available, so I could not tell.

evolvingtastes said...

Manisha, I am now on the trail of real cinnamon too. I have also called upon our friends (with names like adrak and jungli phool) to help me identify some of the stuff I already have. Its getting complicated! Will let you know what I find out.

Mithila said...

I don't have a blog anymore (don't even remember the URL of something I had a couple years ago). Looking at all these foodie blogs - I am tempted to start one myself! I will let you know, if I ever end up starting one. For the time being, I'll continue to be a blogeur / silent lurker. :)

Btw, I came upon your blog while searching for tips and tricks on Shreekhand.

evolvingtastes said...

Mithila, that is cool. Either way, don't be silent. :-)

Anjali said...

ET I just tried this for dinner and it is lip smacking I must say. Thank God I have leftovers for my lunch box 2morow :). Thanks for sharing.

evolvingtastes said...

Anjali, I am thrilled to hear that! You know, responses like these are immensely gratifying.

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