Take a seed potato (we got a Yukon Gold) and cut it into eight pieces. Put it in soil in a cardboard box. Seed potatoes are sold by the pound in nurseries.
DO NOT use seed potatoes for cooking. They have been dusted with nitrogen to grow better. You can also use a regular potato. Keep it in a dark place until it sprouts some ‘eyes’. Then cut it into a few pieces, with one or two ‘eyes’ per piece, and proceed.
Water from time to time. After 10-12 weeks, check if you have potatoes big enough for your liking. If you want baby ones, they’re probably ready. If you want bigger ones, you have to wait some more, until the leaves start wilting.
We put all eight pieces in one box. We should have put them in atleast six boxes.
It was crowded and hindred their growth. One potato got us nearly 3 pounds. Putting them in several boxes would have probably yielded many more. They multiply quickly and need space and water to grow.
Why a cardboard box? ‘Cos then you don’t have to dig the potatoes out of the soil. Put the box in your veggie patch, cut open the sides, and as the soil falls in a heap, you can remove the potatoes easily.
Some people use rubber car tyres. Put soil and seed potato in one tyre. As it grows, keep adding soil and tyre upon tyre. When the potatoes are ready, remove the tyres one by one and let the soil spread around. Then remove the potatoes.
URAD DAL PURIS WITH POTATO BHAJI
I have had some fantastic (watery) potato bhaji at Balarshah railway station in Maharashtra (India) once – while traveling from Delhi to Chennai. This was an attempt to recreate that. Our “Donnai” is made with a leaf from our Brussel Sprout plant and a couple of toothpicks. The leaf has a waxy exterior and was easy to wash and clean. A Donnai is traditionally made from knit dried leaves in the form of a cup. Usually rice based dishes, pongal, kesari etc are seved in Donnais. They are pretty leak-proof as the leaves are shaped and dried in place, sometimes with small sticks. Our potato bhaji was not too watery. It worked out well even with a fresh leaf that was held together with toothpicks.
4 Cups boiled, peeled and mashed Potatoes (we used Yukon Gold)
4-5 Green chillies
½ tsp Red chilli powder
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp Mustard seeds
6-8 curry leaves
1/8 tsp Asafoetida
Coriander leaves for garnish
1. Boil potatoes, peel and coarsely mash to yield 4 cups (piece to mashed ratio roughly 3:1)
2. Heat the oil in a medium-sized pan and add the mustard. When the mustard begins to crackle reduce the flame to low and add the chopped green chillies, curry leaves (whole or cut to small pieces with scissors directly into the pan), asafoetida, turmeric, chilli powder and salt. Cook for a minute.
3. Add the mashed potatoes to the above mixture and cook on medium flame for few minutes with some water to blend in the tastes. The end result should be wet, but not runny.
4. Garnish with coriander leaves
Now that we’ve ventured into the depths of deep-frying Hades, why not throw some more stuff into that vile vat of oil?
Dal puris and dal rotis are common in Bihar, Bengal, and parts of the Carribean and Mauritius, where they were introduced to the local cuisine by Bihari immigrants. A dal puri is something between a puri and a kachori, ‘cos it is a tad harder and crisper than a regular puri/poori. It’s basically wheat dough stuffed with a cooked lentil mixture – usually made of chana (split Bengal gram) dal. In central and northern India (Madhya Pradesh and parts of Uttar Pradesh), dal puris are made with urad dal (split black lentils).
Urad dal is white though it is called ‘black lentil”. That’s because the version used in this recipe is skinned. (See skinned urad HERE)
Usually, the dough is kneaded separately, the dal and spices are soaked, ground and cooked until dry. A ball of the dough mixture is placed within a pocket of dough, rolled out and deep-fried. (See this recipe.)
We used a quicker method where we soaked and ground the urad dal and mixed the flour directly into it to form puris. It is usually served with Dahiwale Aloo (Potatoes in a Yogurt-based Sauce)
In our opinion, it’s way tastier than a plain puri. It’s also our attempt to lend our unabashed carbfest some dignity (aka protein).
Soak 1/2 cup skinned urad dal for atleast 2 hours with 2 dry red chillies (or add chilli powder later). Drain the water and save it.
Put the dal and chillies into a food processor and grind it to a very smooth paste with as little of the soaking liquid as possible. We used about 1/3 cup. Add enough whole wheat flour (both atta and American-style whole wheat flour work fine) – we ended up using about 2 cups -, salt, 1/4 tsp asafoetida, 1 tsp kalonji (nigella seeds). (Optional additions: green chillies/cumin).
Knead to make a firm dough. It will be a tad stickier than regular puri dough. Cover well and let it rest for half an hour. Keeping it in the refrigerator helps firm it up. Roll into thinnish disks and deep-fry in hot oil (around 360 F) for a few seconds on each side until golden (if they brown, they will turn too hard). The temperature of the oil is absolutely key to puffy puris. Drain on paper towels and serve.
If you want to eat it as a teatime snack (like mathri), roll it into thick tiny discs (use a cookie cutter), prick it with a fork, and fry or bake until brown and crisp, like crackers.
Or just make regular rotis with little or no oil.
Urad Dal Puris with Potato Bhaji for Anita’s party.
We’re also sending this over to Andrea @ Andrea’s Recipes, who has a great event celebrating summer’s bounty called Grow Your Own.