What is it about snacks, street food, starters, tiffin that makes them so moreish? Probably that an awful lot of them are fried and deep fried at that!
So I try to be good, and don’t make this kind of food VERY often, or I try to find a way of not deep-frying them, maybe baking. But every now and then the thought of a spicy snack wins through.
I’ve meant to make these for a while, and have finally got round to it. The Kitchen Garden reminded me of fried mashed potatoes the other day, she had them for breakfast. And so she should getting up on the farmy at the crack of dawn, tending to her flock and taking wonderous photos for us.
And I’ve started to think about potatoes as I need to get my order in for this year’s seed potatoes. I’m behind on this job, normally I’ve ordered them in December, take delivery in January and start chitting in February. But life takes different turns and we’re in the Alps, so potatoes will have to wait for a while longer.
These potato cakes have the spices and flavours so redolent of South India, with mustard seeds, coriander, and curry leaves. They are a great starter, bite sized finger food, perfect alongside some mango chutney or a maybe a garlic or lime pickle. But I’ve decided to play around with them and make them as part of a main course served with wilted spinach and a poached egg on top. Oh, and if you want to read a good description of wilting spinach pop over to Misk, she was doing this and wondering how best to wilt spinach. And I’ve just remembered a trick I sometimes use, I pop them in the microwave. I think it’s simpler.
First of all I’ll write the recipe up as it is and then show you my variations. I’ve based these on a Das Sreedharan recipe, I chose this one (I normally just make them, without paying any attention to how much of this or that I’ve added, or how long x needs cooking for) as it is authentic, and besides I like Das’ cooking. The one thing I did notice, which I really liked was that the green chillies are added at the end, in fact they are barely cooked. which gives the potato cakes a nice rawish chilli hit. If you don’t like too much heat, de-seed the chillies.
Aloo Bonda or Indian Spiced Potato Cakes
~ Das Sreedharan from Easy Everyday Indian
- 500g of floury potatoes peeled and cubed
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 20 curry leaves, I like to roughly chop them
- 2.5cm (1 inch) ginger, peeled and grated or finely chopped
- 2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 green chillies, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 2 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
- 125g chick pea flour
- Salt to taste
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Cook the potatoes in boiling water for approx. 15 minutes until they are tender, drain and mash them (don’t add any milk or butter) then set aside.
- Heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a large frying pan or wok, when hot add the mustard seeds, when they start to po[p add the curry leaves, ginger and onions and cook until the onion is softened, approx. 5 minutes.
- Add the chillies and turmeric stir in and cook for a few minutes.
- Now add the mashed potatoes and coriander and mix them in well with the rest of the ingredients. Remove the pan from the heat.
- In a large bowl, put the chick pea flour, a pinch of salt, a pinch of turmeric powder and gradually add 250ml of water. I tend to use a little less as I like the batter thick. Whisk the flour and water together until the batter is smooth. Set aside for 5 minutes.
- Divide the potato mixture into small balls, Das recommends golf ball size.
- Heat the oil for frying in a large pan, I also use the Wok for this. When hot dip a potato ball in the batter and then straight into the oil. Cook them in small batches. If deep-frying this takes about 3-4 minutes, but I tend to use less oil and so it takes longer more like 6-8 minutes. They should be a golden colour on the outside, remove them from the oil and drain on some kitchen paper.
- Serve them with a chutney or pickle of your choice.
Now for the variations ~
You can play with the spices, many versions have a tablespoon of Urid Dal in the mixture (it adds crunch and protein), but I can’t get them in France. I sometimes add a teaspoon of fennel seeds. Don’t have chick pea flour? I’ve made them without the batter and I just fry or bake them as they are, you will need to keep turning them over, very gently, if you don’t use the batter.
For our meal tonight the mixture was divided into 4, then the potato mix was rounded into balls and then flattened to make patties. They were shallow fried until they were a golden brown colour. I still cook them in batches and when cooked put them on a baking sheet in a low oven to keep warm. When ready to serve put the potato cakes on a plate, heap some wilted spinach on top and then a poached (or if extra naughty a fried) egg.
And the photos? I have no idea what connection there could be with kids ski helmets and aloo bonda, but they are both nice and colourful!
Right, back to that seed potato order…..
EDITED to add some photos. I’m sorry but they are not great photos, but hopefully they will give you an idea of what they look like. I should have opened one up and photographed it, but I rushed it and forgot. Basically I ate them 🙂