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Thursday, 26 July 2012

Jeera aloo and its fight for supremacy in dieter's fortress

In my house right now - the clothes are not drying, the shoes are stinking and there is a stench from the garbage dump half a kilometre away that even sealed windows cannot keep out. Classical monsoon smells and I am not complaining.
My problem is mammoth.  I am protesting against the aroma from the kitchen of the “Deadly Deep Frying Diva” – my new neighbour to be precise, who appears to be the invincible queen of grease. The heady smell of her deep fried cuisine and her “ghee ka tadkas” ride the humid still air around her flat and have given the word “temptation” a new meaning in my life.
Fortunately our fifth floor abode is a virtual fortress and does not allow the smells inside the hallowed interiors of our blessed aspiring dieter’s paradise – but it has become a torture to open the front door and step out.
Seven ‘o clock is the chosen hour at which we step out after our staid breakfasts of dalia and fruits – and that is the time she decides to fry her “pyaz ke parathe” in ghee . I am almost swooning as I attempt to lock my door and I would give anything to eat that paratha with a huge dollop of butter.
 Thankfully however - as I inhale a lung full of the mouth watering aroma – just the excess air in my body stretches the stitches on my clothes and reminds me that this is an expensive wardrobe that I just cannot afford to outgrow, and so I scoot towards the lift (promising myself that I will take the stairs from tomorrow).
Deep fried diva does not give up so easily though. In the evening as three growling stomachs belonging to Baba Bear, Mamma Bear and Baby Bear - step out of the lift – she strategically drops a puri into the oil and stirs the intoxicating aloo ki sabji on her gas stove.
That’s it – my defences are down!
 I fling caution to the winds!
 If not puriAloo ki sabji is definitely on today’s menu!!!!
No I didn’t ring her bell (though I was tempted to) I made my own!
This is a life saving recipe and has saved my gasping meals from drowning several times. When I attempted it the first time, my Bengali (and therefore connoisseur by birth) Dad rubbished my attempt because the potatoes were not adequately salty at their core. Thereafter I devised this trick of cutting the potatoes small and adding a good amount of water to the final sabji and then allowing it to evaporate. The end result is not the dry jeera aloo that you can order in restaurants but a dish with adherent gravy. If you like the sour taste to predominate – you could add 2 tablespoons of curd instead of water. I love this! I just didn’t have curd on hand that day.
Jeera Aloo
1.     Boil 3 large potatoes. They need to be cooked to their centres but should not disintegrate. I generally do three whistles in the pressure cooker and then allow the cooker to cool on its own.
2.     Cut up the boiled potatoes into small cubes
3.     Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a karahi and add 1 tsp of jeera to it
4.     Follow the jeera with a pinch of haldi powder and salt (to taste)
5.     Add the cubed boiled potatoes to the oil and mix well to coat them with the masala
6.     Now add about 4 tablespoons of water to the karahi
7.     Allow the water to boil and evaporate
8.     Serve hot – on indulgent days.


  1. The beautiful, sensuous prologue forms a prominent part of the piece and I just loved it.