Aloo matar at home

My wife can sometimes surprises me with her special dishes, which cause me to momentarily regress to childhood, a la Anton Ego in Ratatouille being presented the special dish.

The last time she did it was with her own rendition of aloo matar (a dish primarily made of diced potato and whole chick peas). The surprise she sprang was so endearing that it caused me to spring to my feet, run to her, hug her and try to convey her in every non-verbal way how much I had like it.

So, when she told me she would cook this same dish again, I sprang at the opportunity to chronicle her efforts and results.

She started by dicing three potatoes into cubes and boiling them with salt till they are half soft. The rest of the softening will take place during the cooking process. Half an onion was also diced:

Peas from around 10 average pods, or around 100 gm in total, were extracted, washed and boiled.

The pan’s surface was coated with oil that was then heated to the point where it almost had the viscosity of water. That’s when the wife threw in the onions, a few mustard seeds and a little whole cumin. The whole spices ended up giving the food a whole new dimension.

Then, in went the half-boiled potatoes.

A little while later, a dash of fresh turmeric….

…ends up changing the entire complexion of the dish! BTW, turmeric happens to be good for our complexion too! Look it up.

Soon, a few more spices found their way into the pan: garam masla and cumin powder. Salt was added according to taste. The peas had been added at this point.

A little water was needed to help the spices release their juices and the veggies to soak them up. Two broken green chillies were added to the mix, more for flavour than for heat. Their taste will only be felt if one bites into one of them.

The pan was then covered and the aloo matar simmered in medium flame till most of the water evaporated. And voila! The dish is ready! Add a dash of fresh chopped coriander/cilantro for a little extra kick.

Now comes the flatbread. We are having Kerala Parotta. Available half-cooked in a lot of shops around Bangalore, which is now called Bengaluru.

The flat pan is coated with ghee, aka clarified butter.

The parotta is allowed to soak up the ghee, one surface at a time,…

… till both surfaces start showing that crunchy golden brown colour.

And the food is ready!


Now comes the eating part, and this I add for my friends from outside India who love Indian food.

When you order a dish, it is never the main food. It is always meant to be eaten with some form of bread or rice. TOGETHER or MIXED. Not like having one spoon of this and then another bite of that.

So here’s my wife helping you out.

Always use your right hand to tear the bread. Use your index finger to hold down one part of it, and pull a nearby part with your thumb and middle finger. Like so:

Then, use this bread as a shovel/taco/spoon/what-have-you to pick up a little bit of the dish that you have ordered:

This is how a pairing of any Indian bread and dish is supposed to be eaten. And I dare say, it adds a whole new dimension to the taste!

Bon appetit!

Arkadev Ghoshal


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