Feb 2, 2010

Potatoes with tomatoes (Bazar jaisey aloo)

The unassuming name hides a simple but delicious combination of potatoes cooked with tomatoes and ginger. A recipe similar to the north Indian aloo ka jhol (potatoes cooked in a watery gravy), this one is from Madhur Jaffery’s book, Climbing the Mango Trees, our book club pick for the month of January.
If you have ever wondered what the true definition of a ‘Foodie’ is, read Madhur Jaffrey’s Climbing the Mango Trees. A childhood memoir of growing up in a privileged, upper middle class family surrounded by uncles and aunts and numerous cousins, not to mention a retinue of servants who cooked for the extended joint family, tended trees and vegetable gardens surrounding the house and in general fetched and ran errands.
However, Jaffrey’s memoir narrates more than anecdotes of a privileged life spent eating meals that consisted of pheasants shot down by her hunt-loving family and seekh kababs from Delhi’s famous Chandani Chowk. The book also gives an insight to her lifelong love for Indian food and makes you appreciate her relentless passion for introducing and promoting the Indian cuisine to the world through her countless cookbooks and TV appearances with the likes of Juila Child and Ming Tsai.
When every sad, happy, angry or joyful memory is associated with food, a foodie of the first order is formed. And there in a nutshell is Jaffrey’s ‘Climbing the Mango Trees’.
Is it then sacrilegious to admit that till now, I had never cooked from any of her cookbooks, or to say that I found most of her recipes, especially the meat ones, a bit complex to prepare? Or was it that I was just too lazy to make boondi (which my mom made on a regular basis) from scratch when it was readily available in the store? Whatever the reason, I steered clear of Jaffrey till our book club choose ‘Climbing the Mango Trees’.
I added turmeric out of force of habit and ended up with a yellow curry instead of red!

Reading the book was like eating through a culinary feast of simple Indian greens and hearty meat curries cooked to perfection and served with phulkas, “chapati’s more refined, upper class cousin.” Some 32 odd recipes at the end of the book, from kheema samosas, to green chutney and fenugreek greens with carrots cover maybe 10% of the feast served in the book.
The recipes are to keep, especially if you are a vegetarian looking to make non-vegetarian dishes or vice-versa. I decided to stick to my mostly vegetarian meal and made Potatoes with Tomatoes (Bazar Jaisay Aloo), the go-to-meal for Jaffery family’s picnics and Sunday breakfast. The meal cooks in a jiffy if the potatoes are boiled and ready. I served them with ‘Phulka’s’ for a change instead of its ‘coarse, lower-class cousin’ and our standard bread, Chapati.

Potatoes with Tomatoes
Serves 4-6

6 medium sized potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of asafetida
1 ½ tsps whole cumin seeds
1/2 tsp whole fennel seeds (I used a tsp and crushed it coarse)
1/4 tsp whole fenugreek seeds
3 whole dried red chilies
3 medium tomatoes, grated on the largest hole of the grater
1 ½ tsp finely grated fresh ginger
Salt to taste

Boil the potatoes in their jackets until tender and allow them to cool. Peel.
Pour the oil into a wide, medium sized pan, and set it over medium-high heat. When it is hot, put in first the asafetida, then the cumin, and finally the fennel, fenugreek and chilies.
Two seconds later, add the grated tomatoes and ginger. Stir-fry until the tomatoes turn a deep red and the oil begins to show, turning down the heat as the cooking progresses so nothing burns. Add 1 ½ cups of water.
Now, break the potatoes by hand into pieces that are, very roughly, ½ inch cubes. They will be different shapes, but that is the charm of the dish. Add the potato cubes to the pan together with salt, then stir and bring to a boil.
Cover the pan, turn the heat to low, and cook gently for 12-15 minutes, stirring now and again.

Other members of our book club reviewed and were inspired to make:
Simran made Phirni
Curry Leaf made  Roz Ki Gobi
Sheba made Cauliflower with cheese
Janaki made Palak Gosht
Aqua made Tahiri


  1. I have never read/cooked from her books and your post tempts me to do both!!All looks so delish.It is lunch time here and I am literally drooling..

  2. Lovely subji!!!! this subji and puri.....wow gr8 combo:)

  3. hey...no sacrilege there - I certainly hope so, even I have steered clear of her books, though a friend who was devoted to her recipes had passed a few of them.
    Potatoes look really yum.

    As always, I am going to be the last I think to post my review - what to do, aadat se majboor I think!

  4. This subzi and puri is a hit combination in my household:) absolutely delicious:)

  5. Love the post Jaya.I too sort of avoided her books till now.The book and the recipes are keeper as you have said.
    BTW, I too cook the cauliflower together with the spices,this way of cooking is new to me and hence I tried it.But I added the spices as per my taste rather than mentioned in her recipe.

  6. Quantity of spices I mean.She mentioned just 1/4 tsp for about 7 cups of gobhi,too bland it would have been then.
    Will surely mail after posting for 'Tuscan Sun'.I avoid it due to laziness.

  7. on the upside, the good thing about posting last is you just go over to one who posted before you and copy paste all the links on your post! Thanks :)

  8. Thank you PJ. I felt the same about your tofu strawberry smoothie. :)

    Thank you Sowmya S and Rachna.

    You are right Curry. I too thought some of the quantities she mentioned were too less, but I think those particular recipes are geared more towards non-Indians. 1/4 tsp for 7 cups of gobi does seem too less.

    Aqua, your comments are like drinking a glass of cold water (get the bad pun:) on a hot day. Thank you.

  9. This is actually a tempting combination for me..good one!

  10. Great review, and fabulously good looking aloo :)

  11. The dish looks delicious even if it is yellow! I have a Madhur Jaffrey book too, but I think I bought it more to drool over the pictures. Somehow, I feel her books are for those who are not really familiar with Indian cooking.

  12. It looks good DSM, whether it is red or yellow, all that attracts me is it has Aloo :)

    I haven't read the book yet, but I have seen a couple of posts about the same.
    We have switched over from Idli sambar to the poor cousin phukla(as it wont have that much of oil/ghee)..But honestly I like the Phulkas better than Chappati.

  13. Potatoes with tomatoes look great, Jaya! and a nice review of the book.. it was on my reading todo list for a long while; after reading recent reviews of it, I am sure inspired to pick up a copy now. Is this a blogger book club?

  14. We make this too, with red chilli powder. And desi oil :)

  15. I love potato curry, and this looks very tempting!

  16. this one is my fav.. i love aaloo..:)

  17. First time here. Love the curry. Love your other posts. Following you.

  18. Jaya I am back again here to say that I prepared this yesterday for dinner with chapathi and it was super yumm and everyone at home loved it!!!I even had it this morning with dosa :)!Thanks for posting this lovely recipe.If all the recipes in her book are so delicious ,it is makes me want to read her book as well and try out other dishes.

  19. I really love the idea of bazaar jaise aaloo...truly divine. Gotta make them soon. Love your book club. Got here from Simran's!


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