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Aloo Bhaji or Bombay Aloo

Aloo Bhaji
Aloo Bhaji

Aloo Bhaji (or Bombay Aloo as it is still sometimes called in Indian restaurants) is one of my favourite side dishes. Not only is it really yummy with a nice curry but it is excellent for mashing up and making stuffed parathas for supper. You can also use it to make vegetable samosas.

There are absolutely loads of variations on this, every restaurant and recipe book does this dish differently; this is my version (with a few optional extras) but you really can play about with this to get something which suits you.

Incidently I can find no connection with this dish to Bombay, or indeed any other specific area.

Basic Ingredients

3 Medium sized Potatoes.
Green Chillies.
1 tablespoon desiccated coconut.
Squeeze of Lemon Juice.
½inch (1cm) root ginger.
Oil for frying.

½ teaspoon black Mustard seeds.
¼ teaspoon asafetida.
¼ teaspoon salt.
¼ teaspoon turmeric.
½ teaspoon Garam Masala

Optional Extras

Green or red bell peppers.
Chilli Powder.
Coriander seeds.
Cumin seeds

Notes on Ingredients

Potatoes. The slightly waxy potatoes are best, these cook to soft without disintegrating.

Onions and Garlic. Actually these are optional as well; people of the Jain religion and strict Hindu pandits would leave these out as they do not eat root vegetable, asafoetida gives an onionlike taste and is also a very good digestive. I always use 1 small to medium onion and a couple of cloves of garlic, you may adjust to your own taste.

Tomatoes. Again you will see recipes for aloo bhaji both with and without tomatoes. I like to use two large tinned tomatoes with the skin and core removed. You can also use fresh Roma tomatoes; dip in near boilling water for a few seconds, remove the skin and chop up.

Green chillies. To your own taste, probably 1 or 2 medium strength chillies in this, less if you go for stronger chillies. Optionally you can use chilli powder if you don't have fresh chillies.

Root Ginger. Optional but really nice. Peeled and mashed or cut into very small dice.

Oil. Ghee or mustard oil are best. Rapeseed or sunflower oil are ok.

Spices. The ½ teaspoon of garam masala is optional.

Optional extras.

These are some things I have thrown in occasionally for variation. Not big quantities, just enough to add a different taste. Some might argue that this makes the dish something other than aloo bhaji. Oh well.

Basic Method

Peel and halve the onion lengthwise, then slice.
Peel and crush the garlic.
Finely chop the chillies.
Chop the ginger into very small cubes.
Peel potatoes and cut into ¾inch cubes.
Chop up whatever tomatoes you are using.

Heat the oil in a frying pan.
Throw in the mustard seed and asafetida and fry till the mustard seeds start to pop and splutter.
Put in the onions and garlic and fry till soft.
Add the turmeric, garam masala and chillies or chilli powder.
Continue to fry for a couple of minutes.
Add the potatoes and fry, stirring them about for a minute or so.
Add the tomatoes and mix in.
Add some water to give a good base to cook the potatoes. Turn down the heat, cover and cook for about ½ hour until the potatoes are soft. You may need to add more water occasionally if it gets too dry.
About 10 minutes from the end, add the coconut and any extras like peas, chopped bell peppers or cumin seeds.

Notes on Method

If you are using mustard oil then heat it till it just starts to smoke before cooking; other oils should not smoke but be hot.

You can parboil the potatoes in a steamer or microwave if you wish. This will cut down the cooking time considerably.

If I throw in a handful of peas then I generally use frozen peas which cook quickly. If you use fresh peas then you should add these with the potatoes.

If you are making this as a side dish then about one medium potato per person, the rest of the quantities here are based on 3 medium potatoes.

I usually eat aloo bhaji as a side dish with a meat curry and a flatbread of some kind. I also usually make too much so that I can make stuffed parathas later.

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