I love Indian food so I was excited to find Indian Home Cooking on the shelf in the recipe section of the library. A friend of mine chose this recipe for me to make, but I should have read it more carefully as it turned out to be a little more complex than I was mentally prepared for. The recipe calls for 3 medium red onions, 2 onions to puree and 1 to slice, but if I make this again I wouldn’t add the sliced onion. Also, we baked the potatoes instead of frying them. The potatoes did have a good flavor, so if you’ve got the time for a recipe that is a little more complex, this might be a good one to try.
Potatoes Braised in a Fragrant Yogurt Sauce from Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Savan and Stephanie Lyness
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
8 whole cloves
8 green cardamom pods
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 medium red onions
a 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut crosswise into 4 pieces
3 garlic cloves
2 pounds very small (1 to 2 inch wide) red boiling potatoes, peeled; or larger potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup canola oil, plus extra for deep-frying
a 1/2 inch piece cinnamon stick
4 green cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1 cup water
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
For the spice powder, combine the ingredients in a small frying pan and toast over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the cumin is a nice golden color, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool and then grind into a fine powder in a spice grinder. Set aside.
Thinly slice one of the onions and set aside. Coarsely chop the other two onions and put them in a blender or food processor along with the ginger and garlic. Process to a puree, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons water as needed. Set aside.
Put the potatoes in a bowl and add cold water to cover. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons salt; the water should taste lightly salted. Soak the potatoes in this salty water for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels, then arrange on a wide plate.
Heat 1 to 1 1/2 inches of oil in a medium kadai or large saucepan over medium heat to about 350 degrees. Turn the heat down to medium-low and carefully slide about half of the potatoes into the oil. Cook, stirring every now and then, until golden brown all over, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat to cook and drain the remaining potatoes. Then use a fork to poke the potatoes all over with holes (this will help them to absorb the sauce).
While the potatoes are frying, heat the 1/2 cup of oil, the cinnamon stick, cardamom, and bay leaves in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the cinnamon stick unfurls, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the reserved pureed onion mixture, the sliced onion, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until the onion is dry and golden brown and the oil begins to separate out of the mixture, about 30 minutes. The onion will bubble and splatter as it begins to cook, so stand back from the pan. Keep a cup of water next to the stove. As the onion begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, sprinkle a little of the water, about 1 teaspoon at a time, over the onion and scrape the pan with the spoon to pull up the browned bits and keep the onion from burning.
Add the reserved spice powder, the turmeric, and cayenne and cook, stirring, for another minute or two. Continue to add water as necessary, about a teaspoon at a time, to keep the spices from sticking. Turn the heat down to low.
Whisk the yogurt in a small bowl until smooth. Spoon a few tablespoons of the sauce into the yogurt to temper it and whisk to combine. Now whisk the yogurt into the sauce, 1/2 cup at a time, to make a thick sauce. Add 3/4 teaspoon of salt, the potatoes, and the water and mix well. Cover and simmer very gently until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. give the potatoes a stir about 5 minutes into the cooking but then keep the pot closed, and just shake it every 5 to 10 minutes to keep the potatoes from sticking. Taste for salt. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the cilantro. Serve hot.