My maternal grandfather worked for the Indian Civil services and spent most of his career in North India with short stints in places like Korea.
I often wonder how Ammamma, who was an out-n-out traditional Andhra, managed in places like Jabalpur with four young children in the 1930s. All I ever heard from her was the adventures retold with a generous dose of wry humor.
However, one of the many good things that seems to have come out of these travels was that Ammamma developed an amazing culinary repertoire. For as long as I can remember, Ammamma excelled at making things like Chole, Rajma, Apple Pie, Homemade Ice-Cream (Bucket Ice-Cream as we called it!) and more… 🙂
This recipe is my Ammamma’s version of a bhaji that she learnt during her long stay in North India. I often make Alu Rasdar as it is so simple and gets done in a jiffy. It tastes great with rotis or puris.
- Potatoes – 3 medium-sized
- Onion – 1 medium-sized
- Red Chillies – 2 or 3
- Chaaru Podi – 1/2 tsp
- Turmeric – 2 Pinches
- Besan/Gram Flour – 1 tsp
- Curry Leaves – 5 or 6
- Mustard Seeds – 1/2 tsp
- Oil – 1 tbsp
- Salt to taste
- Cut the potatoes into quarters.
- Cut each quarter into 1/4″ wedges.
- Cut the onion in half.
- Slice each half lengthwise.
- In a heavy-bottomed vessel, heat the oil.
- Add the mustard seeds and wait till they splutter.
- Add the split red chillies and curry leaves.
- Saute for about 5 seconds.
- Add the sliced onions.
- Saute for 2-3 mins.
- Add the potato wedges and saute for 5 mins.
- Add enough water to cover the potatoes.
- Cover the vessel and cook over medium heat till the potatoes are cooked.
- Stir occasionally and add more water, if required.
- When the potatoes are cooked, add the chaaru podi, curry leaves, salt, and turmeric.
- Mix well.
- Turn the heat to low.
- In a bowl, mix the besan with about 4 tbsp of water to form a smooth and thin batter. There should be no lumps.
- Add this besan batter to the cooked potatoes and mix well.
- Add extra water, if needed, to form a gravy that is thick but flowy.
- Cook over medium heat while stirring occasionally till the first boil.
- Serve hot with rotis or puris.
- Ensure that the besan batter has no lumps, otherwise the bhaji will be ruined.
- If the gravy is too watery:
- DO NOT add more besan. If you do, the bhaji will taste of besan.
- Cook the bhaji over medium heat till the extra water evaporates.
- The gravy tends to thicken as the bhaji cools. Just add water, mix well, and reheat.