28 March 2007

Potato in Tamil Brahmin Cuisine

Potato wedges - a global favourite | Recipe coming up soon

Regulars on Saffron Trail would have realised that I have been unfair to the global favourite - the potato by never having openly expressed my love for this humble vegetable. To clear a few things, I too like all others, love this vegetable dearly. My all time favourite home food is Urulaikizhangu Curry and Vengaaya saambaar with rice, which is potato roast and onion sambhar. This is my soul food. If I could choose my last supper, this would be it.

Potatoes are made in several ways in our Tamil brahmin household and none of them that I know use garlic as a spice. I am happy to share with you some simple authentic Tambram potato recipes.

The recipe source is my mom (Amma), who cooks mostly traditional food with the exception of a pav bhaji or pulao etc. to meet my sister's demands.

Recipe 1
Urulaikizhangu Roast - This is had with a traditional Sambhar, rice, salad and fried appalam & vettal (rice flour crackers) whichforms the menu of a typical Sunday lunch in most of our households.

Amma says "Boil the potatoes. Peel, cube and dry marinate them for 10 minutes in turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt and rice flour (for crispiness). Splutter mustard seeds in oil, and then roast the marinated potato cubes until roasted and crisp. A variation of this recipe is one in which sliced onions are stir fried in the oil before the potato cubes go in.

Among all traditional recipes, most tambrams would rate this as numero uno, including yours truly. By using a little more oil, this can be roasted to a golden brown perfection, but while making on a regular basis, not more than a tbsp of oil would be used for two servings.

Recipe 2
Urulaikizhangu Podimaas - This is the other end of the spectrum of potato dishes. Neither crispy nor very spicy, this is a very flavourful recipe that used crumbled potatoes.


Amma says, "Boil the potatoes. Peel, crumble and salt them. Heat oil and pop some mustard seeds. Put chopped green chillies, ginger pieces, curry leaves, chana dal and udad dal into the oil and fry until the lentils are golden brown. Add the crumbled potatoes to the above, bring it all together by stirring well and in the end garnish with freshly grated coconut. "

No turmeric used in this dish, neither red chilli powder - the potatoes have their pale yellow colour and the aromatics turn this dish in another simple marvel. The fried lentils go ka-tak, ka-tak in your mouth like firecrackers and it is fun. May not be so much fun if they get stuck inside one of your cavities :) This dish goes well with yogurt based curries like Mor Kozhambu and rice.

Recipe 3
Smashed potatoes in gravy as in Puri-Kizhangu - This is usually made as a tiffin ( a 4 o' clock meal) item. However, being a fried dish and quite heavy, my granny used to make this just 5-6 times a year. And needless to say, I have NEVER made puris in my life. Not because of the fried bit, but because I have never learnt the technique. Here, the potatoes are in a spiced gravy base thickened by chick pea flour and this is what the crispy Indian fried breads (puris) are dipped into. The flavour is mellow and the gravy is creamy.

Amma says - "Boil, peel and roughly crumble the potatoes into medium pieces. In oil, splutter mustard seeds, and then fry chopped ginger, green chillies, curry leaves, chana dal, udad dal with a pinch of asafoetida and some sliced onions. Once onions are done, add the crumbled potatoes, with enough water to make a gravy. When this comes to a boil, add the salt, turmeric powder and some chick pea flour dissolved in water to thicken the gravy slightly. Garnish with chopped coriander."

As I am talking to my mom, getting the exact method for this dish, my dad is asking me when I am going to make this for him. I am trying to evade this by saying ' It's only for my blog readers that I'm noting all this down' and he's trying to threaten me that he'll complain about this in the comments section :P, to which my answer is comment moderation

Recipe 4
Potato slices roast with skins
- My mom usually makes this for dinner, when she is not in a mood to pressure cook and boil potatoes, or if she has forgotten to boil them in the morning pressure cooking session, along with rice and dal.

Amma says "Scrub and wash the potatoes. Halve them and slice into semicircles. Splutter some cumin seeds in hot oil, and then put in the sliced potatoes with some salt, turmeric and chilli powder. Srit everything together and sprinkle water to aid fast cooking. Cover the wok with a lid and stir the slices occasionally with a sprinkle of water and remove when done.

This one tastes best with rasam saadam (rasam-rice) dotted with some home-made ghee and a roasted appalam (papad). I'd call this perfect food while recuperating from an illness.

Some common tips while cooking with potato:
  • Asafoetida (perungaayam) or hing is used in most potato dishes in our cuisine. Potato is known to cause bloating and hing is the best gas-buster there is. There are two ways to add hing to the recipe. Hing powder is either added to oil along with the tadka keeping a low flame so as not to burn this powder. Alternatively, a small piece of asafoetida is broken off the block and dissolved in some hot water and a few drops of this infused water in sprinkled in the dish while cooking.
  • Most of our recipes call for boiled potatoes except for some like No.4 and potatoes are usually pressure cooked with their peels on, which are peeled off after the potatoes cool. Medium sized potatoes cook to perfection when pressure cooked for 3 whistles and then flame kept on sim for another 5 minutes. If you don't have a pressure cooker, you could boil them with their peels on for 10 minutes or so, a tester poked through them suggests that they are done.

That's a record for me, four recipes in one post. Finally this post was to be all about this fantastic, finger licking potato wedges I made today. But my love for our traditional cuisine and the guilt of not writing enough about it, completely overtook my mind and fingers and what you see is this. The potato wedges recipe will come by soon, now that my guilt pangs have been appeased.

Some interesting reads

I am glad that I have managed a worthwhile post for Lakshmi's event on Regional Cuisine of India, which starts with Tamil Cuisine this April.


skeeedamnbee said...

scidambi's personal favorite -

hot and fresh urulai kizhangu roast with old and cold curd rice that we keep in the fridge to soak in its own marinade overnight !!!

nandita, pasikarathu ;-) hahahahaha


the wifey said...

Heehhheee , panna pochu this weekend :)

Sharmi said...

Oh MY Gosh Today I am finding so many great recipes close to my heart around the blogsphere. Being a brahmin, born in TN, I have had this from my grandmom so many times, but never tried making them even once!! You brought back my sweet memories. Thanks for the recipe and Btw you have alovely looking blog. very dashing template.
will soon come back for more recipes.

Anita said...

You show that picture and then NO RECIPE!! It's my favourite vegetable!!

I think I almost make the Urulaikizhangu Podimaas, I add turmeric which keeps it from being traditional Tambram. Next time I'll go for the authenticity.

These all look good. I want to try the first one with the rice flour first.

And you cannot make pooris?? Will you make them if I tell you how? :-)

Nandita said...

Sharmi - Actually we keep ourself busy trying different cuisine of India and ofcourse world cuisine and forget about our own traditional ways of cooking food. This post is just an ode to traditions. Glad you liked it and thanks for the compliments.

Anita- the recipe for those sesame dotted spicy potato wedges is coming up next...no potatoes for a year and then only potatoes on Saffron Trail hahaha

Yeah you tell me and I shall make them, don't want my dad to be taking a shot at my reputation here LOLLLLL

Sig said...

Girlie, aren't you a month too late for potatoes? :D

Love the look of those potato wedges, are those sesame seeds?

Nandita said...

Aw come on...life shouldn't be entirely dictated by food events in the blog world should it??
Those are sesame seeds and the recipe comes up soon, it was DELICIOUS:)
Need some help from you on the blogrolling!

Jyothsna said...

Growing up a neighbourhood full of tambrams, I just know what all that would taste like! :)

Caught up with the Shakira post only now, and I'm feeling terrible I missed her in Dubai (just before she went to Mumbai)!!

Sia's corner said...

this is a wonerful post nanditha. u have reminded me of wonderful simple, traditional food cooked by amma which i have been neglecting so far.
by the way hope u did cook something for ur dad;)

Nandita said...

Anita has almost promised to teach me to make poori and dad's demand is the No.3 Potato recipe listed here ;)

Jeena said...

Great recipes, I like your blog Tamil cuisine looks lovely :)

visit jeena's kitchen healthy recipe blog

Anita said...

Yup, pooris, coming soon....

Anonymous said...

First time here. Potato subzi + pearl onion sambar used to be sunday lunch at my home too for a long time. Now that I'm all into maintaining my figure and curves, I've given up potatoes and have it only when it is mom-made.
I never wore a madisaar for my wedding, but did wear one for my sister's wedding. With a cycling shorts inside, I was surprisingly comfortable in a madisaar than a regular sari. I could even do high jump and I realized the madisaar actually is pretty sexy :-)

Dr. Soumya Bhat said...

Hey now this is a real poatato treat.hmm lovely presentation and dont talk about the phtotogarphy..simply superb..

Anil P said...

Is there a way you can include the fragrance of those recipes in here? :)

Paddukoti said...

woh!!nandita, lovely potatoes with sesame seeds top!!
very nice!!

bee said...

so when are we going to see nandita in the madisar? the next time you update your picture, i hope. J is iyer, and my SIL says she didn't get it right once (though it looked right), and she just couldn't sit down. she had to stand the whole time.

Reena said...

Potato podimas is my MIL's trademark dish:):). So it irritates me sometimes when my husband asks for podimas though I love it myself;)

Nandita, I am a fan of your blog since my non blogging days. Finally I too decided to take the plunge to show the world my culinary skills:)):)).

Sushma said...

A wonderful post with a lovely presentation...I always love to read your posts they are very informative...


Nandita said...

Thanks to all of you for such a warm response to a traditional cooking post...you are egging me to share some more...

Nandita said...

Madisar and pic, no way! You think I wanna drive away my faithful readers by subjecting them to scary pics?? :)

Shilpa. said...

Hi Nandita, thanks for leaving me a comment on my blog! :) Another Blooywood Fugly fan! :) Err, and I'm undergoing a potato phase right now, so these are very helpful additions to my recipe book! Thanks for sharing!

DesiGirl said...

oooh urulai podimaas is my absolute fave! ur blog is awesome. i was thinking of cooking up a similar one with a slant on the iyengar fundas.
i shall HAVE to bookmark u and keep dropping in now!!

nandita said...

A potato phase, LOL, i like that! Cya around...

Thanks for your warm and encouraging words, makes blogging worthwhile...thanks for the bookmark too and I shall see you around. My best!

DesiGirl said...

hey Nandita,
thanks for visiting my blog and the blogroll. i am honoured!!
i just noted that u have a column in chennaionline - small world. i worked for them many moons back, when i lived in chennai.

kamla bhatt said...

here is another spin to the tambram allu with a kannadiga twist. instead of sambhar powder you can use vangi bath powder...the allu tastes a tad different.

try it out.


Anonymous said...

Hi Nandita,

I accidentally bumped unto your blog while looking for recipes for eggless banana breads.
Intrigued by the title of your potato post, I clicked :o)

I am Tamil too but of Sri Lankan origin, and some of these recipes I have never come across.

What do you mean by "traditional tambaram"? And why don't you use garlic with your potatoes?
Rather curious, since I always found that garlic goes rather well with potatoes. my mother makes this delicious extremely garlicky potato salad :o)

and I think one of the recipes mentioned that turmeric isn't found in "traditional tambaram" either. Is this because of set religious rules that you follow?

But thank you for the great recipes :o)


Narayan Bharadwaj said...

Truly! Your recipe gets me the "Jollu" for this food. Top this with an "appalam". Nice blog

Anonymous said...

I'm a Tamil Iyer and my husband is a north indian. In our home I cook both traditional tambram foods as well as Northy menus. Most of our weekends will have either potato roast or podimas with poricha kuzhambu or sambar as both my daughter and husband likes potato a lot. Now that reminds me, this week I'll make podimas....

karthik said...

super. nice recipe and the posts about iyer weddings was also good.

hAAthi said...


Iv been following you for a few months now. Delurking to tell you that I tried out the Urulaikizhangu Roast, with halved baby potatoes, and it was excellent. The rice flour adds a fantastic touch of crispiness.

Thanks for sharing this!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...